Summer Camp Tears in the Parking Lot

On Friday night, we dropped Olivia off for a weekend of camp. Hesitant earlier in the day whether she really wanted to attend or not, we gave her the choice if she wanted to go to the camp, or if she wanted to stay home. She chose to go – as expected, despite the fact that we had previously had a really busy week and she seemed exhausted.

We packed quickly for the weekend, stashed a toothbrush and a trial size of toothpaste from the kids most recent dentist appointment, in her suitcase with insect repellent and five bucks to get a treat from the canteen, rushed out the door and stopped to grab her some dinner on the way to drop her off.

Arriving, she was excited, but it changed when we walked to the parking lot near the bus. The group of kids may have been rowdier, she may have been more tired, but this self-assured and rambunctious kid that we are so used to changed intently into a quiet, unsure, kid who broke into tears a few moments later.

I looked at Jamie, he looked at me. I motioned for him to bring her back to the car so she wasn’t in tears in front of all of these kids, because that’s brutal when you’re seven, let’s face it. So that’s what we did, went back to the car where we told her the plans for the weekend and let her know that we would love for her to stay and enjoy the weekend with us, comforting her through her tears. She didn’t want to miss camp, then she looked like she was going to stay, but she was concerned about her things already packed for camp. Reassuring her that we could go grab it and be on her way, she told us she didn’t know why she was crying, and quickly wiped her tears and decided to head back to the bus – amidst us still trying to figure out what the heck just happened.

Lead back to the bus by Jamie, and me following close behind, she wouldn’t even hold his hand.

When did we get here?

It was kind of a surreal experience seeing your child in a completely new light, one that you rarely get the chance to see. It made me realize that because she’s so strong usually, so self-assured, so competent, so confident, so independent – that we forget the fact that she’s only seven.

I know she wanted to go, I know in my head that she was likely overtired and a bit overstimulated with all of the children running around wild, but my heart ached at that moment for her, in her uncertainty. Uncertainty so out of character that it made me question whether something more was wrong than simply tiredness, uncertainty that riddled me guilt all night long, wondering whether she was having a good time, had found a friend, enjoyed her weekend, was getting enough sleep at camp.

Jamie chalked it up to tiredness, maybe she didn’t see the same kids she expected to the last time around. I made him follow the bus and pull up beside it at the red light so I could get one last glimpse of her on her way to camp for the weekend. Chatting away to her seat-mate, it made me feel a bit better, as we drove off with one final wave to her, and went our separate ways.

And I’m here, up late, worrying about my miniature-adult-who-we-forget-is-only-seven.



Lori is the mother of three young girls, passionate about exploring, experiencing and adventure. In between adventures, you’ll find her hanging out with her family, in the suburbs of Edmonton. Trying hard to be a winter-person, you’ll find her trying hard to get outside during the winter months, and barefoot, with the sand and grass between her toes during the summer months.