A simple family exercise this weekend has sent me to the computer to write about it. Perhaps you will be able to relate….
For years we have been procrastinating organizing a photo album of our family’s annual June trip to Upper Captiva. We have gone to this Florida barrier island the same week (always our oldest daughter’s birthday & Father’s day) since 2003. No cars, no malls, not even a grocery store, you have to pack it all, or you don’t have it for a week. That’s the charm and the reward: cool houses, few people and abundant wildlife.
We have taken our girls since they were 2 and 5, years before they were old enough for Riva-Lake. They are now 16 and 19, and their camper days are sadly behind them. Something became apparent as we progressed through the single digit years through the double digit years. There was a pure unbridled freedom, and joy in everything we discovered together: cool shells, dolphins, catching fish, elaborate sandcastles, turtles, manatees and more varieties of birds than you could imagine. Wind blown hair, sand all over our faces, streaks of ugly zinc face cream, goofy glasses and crazy sun hats, nothing mattered but getting there and getting into the abundant nature that thrives on the island. Slowly the photos started capturing the girls putting a lot more effort into how they look, glamour shots on the beach, cell phones documenting every moment - because it didn’t really happen if its not shared, right? I didn’t notice it happening incrementally while we were living it, but it is so apparent in the photos. How do you keep them young and free? How do you keep societal pressures on girls at bay? You can certainly try and hit “pause” and give them a break.
Coming full circle, it is a privilege indeed to experience one of the last bastions of carefree childhood at camp with your girls. If Camp Riva-Lake can play a small part in giving your girls the confidence they need to be a kid a little longer, then we have accomplished our mission. It is such a joy to watch our teen campers walking hand-in-hand with their 8 year old little sisters, wearing goofy Color Game costumes beaming from ear to ear, or chatting quietly watching the sun set over the lake. We can give no greater gift to our daughters.