Category Archives: Camp

Visiting Day

Isabella on Visiting Day

Isabella would be at camp for nearly four weeks when visiting day finally arrived. I had prepared for this day practically from the day that she had left for camp. I marked it in my calendar (paper for me). I started a pile of items to bring to her at camp. I pleaded with Victoria’s conservatory to allow her to leave for the weekend, so she could join use on the visit (The answer was no, unfortunately.) I informed Zachary that he would need to awaken before noon the morning of the visit. I had evidently done everything except read “the literature” thoroughly.

The day prior to the visit, which happened to be 115 with the heat index, I journeyed to Rockaway Beach with my BFF Kathleen. Upon arrival, we ate at Rockaway Taco on the boardwalk and then went in the murky water for a dip. It was surprisingly cool under our Marimeko umbrella, so Kathleen took a nap. I scanned my phone and noticed a missed call from a 570 number. Panic ensued — 570 was the area code of Isabella’s camp. I had had a nightmare that I missed visiting day! Was it happening? My head began to spin.

The message went something like this: “Laura, no emergency. You indicated on the form that you would pick up Isabella at 1 pm and she has been waiting for you.” Click. I called. I had not missed visiting day, but we had indicated on the form that we would pick up Isabella at 1 pm. That was an option? Yes, parents have been picking up their children since 10 am. What? The response went something like this: “You obviously did not read the literature.” If it were a Woody Allen movie, the unspoken would say: “Bad mommy.”

I got on the phone and found a hotel nearby. Kathleen and I quickly packed up our gear. I called my husband Stephen and asked him to call the camp to say that we would pick up Isabella at 9 pm. There was an hour wait at the Hudson River crossings to get home to pick up the rest of the family. Then, I accidentally called the camp. The conversation on the camp’s end went something like this: “I already told Isabella that I made a mistake and that you are coming tomorrow. She’s fine and looking forward to the dance tonight. Why bother if all you are going to do is check into a hotel and go to sleep!” (That was a rhetorical question.)  My response: “But I’m not okay.” The camp director: “Well, that’s your problem.” Ouch.

Next stop: a bottle of Prosecco.

The next day, we were the first family to arrive (that has never happened). We waited for Isabella. When she spotted us, she ran down the steps and cried. I cried. I think my husband may have cried, too. We were happy to see one another and had missed each other a lot. She loved camp. She assured us that she could make it another three weeks.

The four of us got in the car and drove to a nearby lake. Though we are an ocean family, we really did not care where we were. We were happy to be with Isabella — even if only for four short hours. (It felt like a generous prison visit, though I have never visited anyone in the joint.) We gave her a choice between a boat ride or dinner. As she is my child, she chose dinner. We sped 30 minutes away to Bar Louis in Milford. It was a lovely afternoon.

After dropping her off at her cabin, we met with the director. At that point, my tail was no longer between my legs. (I had avoided her on the pick-up.) We were planning to pick up Isabella on the last day of camp. I wrote in my calendar. Just in case, I inquired about the date. It was the day before the date that I had written. Um, once again my mother was right — reading the directions is very important.

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Sisters

Isabella & Victoria

Recently, we dropped off Victoria — Isabella’s big sister — at the Broadway Conservatory for a 2-week program. That means that she will not be able to accompany us to the one and only visiting day at Isabella’s 7-week camp. We haven’t mentioned this to Isabella. She will be expecting Victoria. Whenever Victoria was away for a school trip — for as little as one night — Isabella is not right.

The two share a room, which Victoria complains about on occasion. Like any other little sister, Isabella will go through Victoria’s stuff. The way I see, Victoria leaves her stuff all over the place. It’s there for the messing. Isabella does not goes through Victoria’s closet. Though they are only 2 1/2 years apart, they do not share clothes, discuss boys, or style each others hair. Victoria does that with her girlfriends. Isabella does not do that at all, except discuss boys during a social worker-facilitated girls’ group in school. That’s a bit different.

They share parents, a brother, and most of all a home. That saying  — “Home is where the heart is” — is somehow more true.

Separate Birthday for Twins

Twins' Birthday Celebration 2008

For the first time in 16 years (if you count their birth), Isabella and Zachary were not together to celebrate their mutual birthday. Isabella celebrated her 15th birthday at camp, while Zachary celebrated (just barely) at home. I offered to bring him and a few friends to Rockaway Beach or Coney Island. He said thanks, but no thanks. At the end of the day, we asked him with he wanted — a cake.

OMG. I didn’t have a cake. The morning were getting ready for Isabella’s camp, I thought about her birthday, which was three weeks in the future. My sister Carla (knowing that I would not have everything ready) came over. She immediately stepped in to help. I was concerned that Isabella would not have a proper birthday cake for camp. They’d have a cake that she wouldn’t be able to eat.  What’s the fun in that. So Carla baked a gluten-free cake for Isabella. I found cardboard discs to store the cake and put them in the car to cool on the ride to camp. We had the icing in a separate container and asked the camp director to freeze the cake layers and put it together for her birthday.

Isabella Celebrating at Camp with a Homemade GF Cake

Weeks before my twins’ birthday, I  collected gifts to send to Isabella — an American Girl magazine, a puzzle, a dress, Katy Perry stuff, a few treats. Before I left on a business trip, I instructed my husband to mail the thoughtful gifts to Isabella. Victoria went into work late the morning of Isabella’s birthday, so she could give her birthday wishes on the phone at the pre-assigned time. A lot of thought went into Isabella’s birthday.

Zachary, her twin, who was home with us for his birthday, was another story all together. I did not bake him a gluten-free cake (nor did his Auntie Carla). At 9 pm, my husband and I rode our bikes to Ben & Jerry’s for an ice cream cake. The only ones available served 25. We ran into some friends (not random, our families are close, really!) and invited them to celebrate. I left it to Zachary to invite his friends. He showed up with just a few guys following the Harry Porter movie. After everyone left, he wondered aloud if he’d be getting any presents. (He certainly observed the cake baking and gift pile for his twin.)

Zachary Celebrating his 15th Birthday at Home

OMG. Presents. We did not have a single present for Zachary. I panicked. I told a white lie, saying that his birthday gift was in the mail. “What was it?,” he justifiably wanted to know. How should I know? I hadn’t ordered anything. Yikes! Bad mommy. Luckily, I was at the High Line this morning and passed an Apple store — an iTunes gift card would do the trick.

Sleep-away camp

Ready for Horseback Riding at Camp

It was a very big deal for us (as parents) to make the decision to send Isabella to sleep-away camp. Last summer, she went for two weeks with a girlfriend from school (read: built-in safety net — that’s good for the child, but mostly the parents).When we went to pick her up to come home to attend a family function, she asked to go back for another two weeks. We obliged. This summer we wanted a camp with more academics. We found one, but the only option was 7 weeks. Yikes! Isabella’s response: “Seven weeks is a long time.” Yes, it is.

It felt like diving into water that you know will be frigid, but it’s a hot, humid day. If you want to cool off, you have to do it. If we wanted Isabella to get a more academic experience (preventing regression), while encouraging independence, we had to go for the 9-week sleep-away camp. It has been three weeks and today is Isabella’s 15th birthday. It’s certainly not were I expected her to be at 15 when she was born or even when she was 5. Here she is nevertheless — loving it, learning, and getting those wings that she (just like every child) needs.

Roots & wings

It has been awhile…hasn’t it? Way too long. A lot has happened in my life (you can check www.essentialmusings.wordpress.com/ for that update if you’re so inclined) and in Isabella’s, too. She’s doing something that I never imagined that I’d allow. She’s at camp…overnight…as in sleep-away. Growing up in Brooklyn, we always knew kids who went to camp — some for the entire summer. I went went to Girl Scout camp once when I was 10, so my BBF Joanne and I could be with the Dilworth sisters who had just moved from Brooklyn to Connecticut. That was an abberation in our lives (Joanne’s too), but I do remember having good time.

The director of Isabella’s school had been mentioning camp for Isabella for the last several years. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. My response was always, “We’re not a camp family” and “We don’t even send our other kids to camp.” Well, those statements are true. Suddenly, things changed or morphed or evoled. Or maybe, I let go. Here’sthe sequence of events. Isabella’s older sister was leaving for 4 weeks and I was worried about Isabella being without her. (Obviously, I know that’s going to happen someday…soon, in fact.) At the same time, we realized that Isabella was not as independent with basic ADLs (aka: activities of daily living) as she needed to be. We were holding her back. She certainly had roots…probably a bit too deep in the ground. Isabella definitely knows about her connection to her family. Wings…not so much. There wasn’t much flying going on. That was for sure. Victoria most definitely has the roots & wings thing happening and so does Isabella’s twin brother Zachary.

The time had come…for me to let go. We had heard about a program at Frost Valley, a YMCA camp in upstate NY, that has a program called MAC, which stands for Mainstreaming at Camp. Two of Isabella’s classmates had attended for several years. And we kept hearing abaout Frost Valley. Some of Victoria’s classmates had attended the non-MAC resisdential portion of the camp. Could I finally send my twins to a place together, but separately? (Sorta like going to different high schools together. Remember that?) This was sounding more and more appealing.

We did it! Or rather, she did it. Isabella is right now, at this very moment, at sleep-away camp and so his her twin brother Zachary. And we have zero communication with them. So, I sent Isabella to camp for 2 weeks and I cannot be in touch with her the entire time. I’d say that I’ve grown up…