Friday, August 01, 2008

After that last post

I think that a little clarification is needed---at this camp, as with all sleepaway camps, no parent is ever allowed to speak to a child, and no child is ever allowed to speak to a parent. Camps are the only institution on the planet that are allowed to do that. For all I know, they could be abusing or beating the children and covering it up. They could be serving them crap for food and no one could stop them, because there are no regulations and no authorities to overlook.

I am also sick of the idiotic argument that there is something good or wonderful or better in terms of personal development if a child lives away from their parents. 95% of children NEVER GO TO CAMP, and they turn out perfectly awesome. In fact, many of them go on to be CEOs and lawyers and Doctors. Do you know who goes to sleepaway summer camp? Rich, white overprivileged kids and occasionally poor kids who are recipients of charity trips. In the past, perhaps middle class kids could afford the fees, but no more. This camp is typical of the price that most in Ontario charge, some are less, some are more.

It cost us $3000 to send Kaz to this fucking camp, for 3 weeks.

Yeah, you read that right.

The one last year was a shorter time period, but a higher rate per week.

There are hundreds of pictures up on their secure website of all the kids. Don't get me wrong, they are all smiling and well-scrubbed and cute. But they are all white. Not one black kid, not one asian, in fact, the only brown faces in the crowd are the white kids who forgot their sunscreen. And it's not that we didn't look for a diverse camp. The problem is that they don't exist. The reality is that in most cultures around the world, people simply don't send their kids to strangers to be raised. Family in an emergency, sure, but not strangers.

The other issue, is that my husband does not understand my stress----and frankly neither does everyone else. I am sitting here terrified my child is in danger, and honestly, I need you all to think about something---one of my kids almost died two months ago, and I have lost three others. I need everyone reading this to let go of their preoccupation with the word "summer camp" and their own personal desire as children to go to summer camp and just think of me as a fellow bereaved mom whose child's life is currently at risk. Can you do that, please?

Because in real life my husband doesn't worry, and neither do my friends who all went to sleepaway camp. In my mind, allowing my son to go to sleepaway camp is huge sacrifice to me. It violates every single childrearing belief I have and every value I hold dear. I did not go through all this infertility and loss just to send my kids far away and not even get to be with them. I did this for my husband, as a gift, so that he would feel like his child got to experience something he did as a child. But he doesn't think of it that way.

He views my sacrifice as nothing, totally irrelevant, and of all the things that have come of this experience, that hurts the most.


  1. Aurelia, I understand.
    I won't let my kids spend the night at their GRANDPARENTS because I am convinced they will not be as vigilant with my children as I am and I have not suffered the losses you have.
    You are justified in your worries and I understand where you are coming from. You are/were incredibly brave to let him go in the first place and I applaud you for that.
    I hope the time flies by.
    You know I always wondered why they said that having children took time OFF of your life, now I know - stress from worrying about them every moment of every day.

  2. I'm so sorry that you're not feeling supported - both IRL and in the blogworld. I can completely understand why you'd be upset and terrified that something awful is happening. I truly do.

    I wish I could give you a hug and make it all go away.

    Is there a visitor's day when you could go up and see your boy?

  3. As a child, I wasn't even permitted to attend sleepovers unless it was a very special occassion. My Dad only let up when I went off to college, so I understand. He wanted to make sure his kid was safe and well cared for.

  4. I'm sorry, Aurelia. I hope I didn't make you feel like your feelings were unjustified. I'd be stressed out, too, but for different reasons, I think.

    Sounds unfair that you wouldn't even be able to talk to Kaz even after this injury, just to have him say he's doing okay or whatever. Hoping the remainder of the time he's away goes by quickly...

  5. Anyone who doesn't know you and your history would tell you to chill and they would be so wrong. Having met you and gotten lost in conversation over coffee, the feelings you have are valid and Mr. C. needs to understand and respect them. I will admit that I am a child of summer camp and loved it (I think). My brothers, not so much. My niece and nephew adore camp each year and have made lifelong friends. As well, my brother and sister in law act as camp doctors in the last two weeks of the camp my nephew attends. They live in the US and come up to camp here in Ontario.

    Many camps have the "no contact" rule supposedly to help the kids get past the homesickness and such. I think it's a load of crap. If a child is hurt in some fashion, then it's in the camp's best interest and the child's as well, to allow them to speak to their parents. Not letting you speak to Kaz was wrong. All a camp is doing by not permitting the contact, especially if a kid is having adjustment issues, is making the whole camp experience that much more awful for the child and cementing the "I hate camp" attitude.

    Patti beat me to it, but with the camp session being 3 weeks long, is there any kind of Visitor's Day you can go up for? I know not all camps have one, but maybe that will help. Or if not, can you guys take a day trip up to the area and sign him out to take him off site for a few hours?

    Just out of curiosity, how do you and Mr. Cotta choose the camp to which you send Kaz? Do any of Kaz's friends attend a camp that you can get first hand references on if you send him somewhere next year? And does Kaz actually enjoy going? Maybe a day camp with a focus on one of Kaz's interests would be better suited for him?

    Hopefully the rest of his camp stay is less stressful all around.

    P.S. Looking forward to getting together soon. :)

  6. I am sorry Mr.Cotta doesn't see how difficult this is for you.
    My question, though, is what did/does Kaz want? Did he want to go? If he likes it, would you feel better about sending him again? If he hates it, would Mr.Cotta let go of this particular summer activity in the future?

  7. I've had a few glasses of wine and so this may make no sense, but my husband convinced my son that this was fun---and so he likes it now, but i think only this camp. Last years camp he hated. And so it was off the table.

    Mr.C would drop it if he hated it.

    I unfortunately can't because then I'll look like the asshole.

    BTW, thanks for listening to me rant. I'm a mess...I should just go on valium the entire time he is away. It might help.

    Sobriety sure as fuck doesn't.

  8. Sorry I'm late to this.
    I totally agree and Mr Cotta, like my huz, has the attitude of denial. As in he didn't die so I must be crazy. Julia's trip through the nicu broke him of that though. Mr Cotta is a bigger challenge than my man.

    Come on he must know you are right, he just doesn't want you to be.

    Sorry. S'all I got.

  9. Your the mom here, do not send him to camp and if I was you, I would go get him!

  10. I never went to sleep away camp - and I think I turned out just fabulously if I do say so myself!

  11. Also late to comment, but just wanted to say that the notification of an injury that required stitches would dredge up all sorts of PROTECT-MY-BABY! feelings, too, on top of the usual paranoia I have about something happening to the children.

    And in my case, my husband saying "chill" would drive me bat crazy. Because my husband is adorable and sweet, but doesn't have the greatest record for knowing when we have to stop the hands-off approach and up the ante in some way with the kids. (Usually this relates to bringing Little A to the hospital for treatment, but it broadly applies to other situations, too.)

    How many weeks left now, anyway? Hope it flies by quick.

  12. Yeah, the camp culture thing is a bit weird. Definitely not a necessity. I went away to Brownie Camp as a kid but it was overnight only, or two nights top, and 30 kids, and my mum knew the parents. And no-one would complain if you checked in by phone.

    I would personally feel a lot more relaxed about it if I knew they were going to notify me about stitching incidents, however minor, though.


  13. Sorry this is so tough for you. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have no contact with your child for 3 weeks.

    I nearly worked for one of those uber rich 7 week sleepaway camps one summer, but wound up not doing it.

  14. Wow. My daughter was just at sleepaway camp for 2 weeks. She had her cellphone (which was usually off, but she could call whenever she wanted = never). We got updates by email almost daily, including where the new pictures were posted on Flickr (yes, I'm serious). They're not going to be able to keep this up for long - kids will start smuggling cellphones, no?

  15. Man oh man what an ordeal [sorry I'm late to the party, been OOT] - my own separations from MY son starting @ age 2 were court-ordered, but nevertheless I can relate in probably a very tangential manner...Don't send him away next summer, stand up for YOUR rights unless Kaz is absolutely insistent!