How you choose to raise your kids is your business. And while I may not always agree with your ways, I’m not here to judge. Having been on the other side, I know the sting too well.

Case in point: When sharing the joy of seeing my kids off to summer camp for a week or two. More often, it brings a certain look from others. The ‘Oh, you’re one of those Moms’ looks. Like, are you crazy? Heartless? Don’t you not like your kids – kind of look?

Of course, I like my kids. I love them more than anything (anything). And that’s precisely why I send them away to camp.

When I was younger, my Mother sent me to camp – an all-girls one, and to this day, I still value my time there, as well as the friends I made. It was the greatest gift she gave to me.

Camp is where friendships are made. Friendships, of the most authentic and life-lasting kinds. Where sports like swimming and kayaking are the activities of the day. Where your tuck shop account becomes your most important expense sheet to budget- ever. Where food is, what it is: Sometimes good (build your own pancakes) to sometimes not so good (meat loaf again?).

Some friends are all-year friends. But some are from afar – and they are camp friends.

Camp is where kids and young adults get to connect with nature, the water, the sound of mosquitos – and not smart phones.The other reason I’m so pro-camp is because I firmly believe as a parent, my role isn’t to play helicopter. But to let my kids figure sh’t out for themselves.

Got a case of poison ivy? Sorry kid, I’m sure there’s a nurse there to help.

Don’t want to go to swim lesson cause the lake is too cold? Well that’s a shame, but I bet your counsellor will hear nothing of it.

Walking like a zombie cause you didn’t go to sleep at proper bedtime? Ouch. Maybe, just maybe Mom is right when she says ‘go to bed now!’

It’s experiences like these that have helped shape my kids into confident, independent people.It’s not always pretty. And sometimes there are tears. But they move through these challenges the best they can, without relying on me to swoop-in.

They learn so much about themselves and others. I mean, it’s hard enough meeting new people when you’re 45, let alone 12! Talk about a training ground for real life.

For more inspiration about raising happy, healthy kids, I’ll often refer to a letter from Camp Manitou. Not long a go, they sent us parents the most powerful letter. I’ve held on to it ever since. Among my favourite passages:

It’s a myth that children should never suffer.  Hey, the reality is that being a kid can be painful.  Friends don’t always do what we want them to and teachers aren’t always fair.  Important games might be lost or we might get cut from a team that we counted on making.  Once we accept and embrace the fact that kids will have tough days, the better we are at advising and supporting them in a manner that is reassuring rather than anxiety provoking.

And another:

It’s a myth that we should manage our children’s affairs.  The reality is, we can role model, teach, mentor, and support them.  we can guide them in the right ways to act and react. We should always be there when they fall. But let them figure out their friendships: there is a lifetime of valuable experience contained in the negotiations of the playground.”  What does it tell a child if they always feel that someone is coming to the rescue? Simple! It tells them that they aren’t capable of managing their business, that somehow they can’t be trusted to make the right decision.  What your child really wants is for you to listen, be empathetic and understand what they are going through.”

With that, I say here’s to less helicopter parenting, and more to keeping it real.  Skinned knees and all. 🙂