Wow! So this is Cottage School Camp, thank you!
It's taken 7 years, but finally one of my children has said it's OK for me to come on a school camp. I've always thought the way for my kids to get the best out of camp is for me not to be there. Camps are a time for kids to be responsible for themselves and their own things. To be away from their parent's watchful eye and 'interference'. It's a time for them to grow a little. So usually I'm waving off the school bus as it bounces down Queen Street on the way to another Cottage School camp. Off on unknown adventures (or well planned co-curricular learning opportunities), but this time I was going too.
I always knew this was a big undertaking from the staff. We know they're 'on' from the moment they arrive at school in the morning to when they deliver our kids back tired, dirty and exhausted, but we parents usually only see these bookends and not the actual camp in the middle.
So I didn't fully understand the commitment our staff make when they take our kids on camp. I knew it would be hard work, but the physical effort it takes to parent and teach and live with a class of kids for 3 to 5 days, 24/7 is enormous.
The meals, the social guidance, the questions, the nurturing, the tents, hats, sunscreen, the constant balancing of risk and benefit and of course the planning that goes into their schedule, but what I really loved seeing and appreciate is the way they integrate daily camp life into learning experiences for the whole child. The short one-on-one conversations...and the long ones. A question in response to a question (they usually know the answers), sometimes deciding providing no direction is the best direction. They encourage. They engage and at the same time provide them with the freedom to roam. They show interest, patience and respect. Did I mention patience?! And they always treat our kids as individuals (wow!) What excellent role models...
I left camp thinking two things, "Wow! How lucky is Louis?" and "I think I can improve my parenting". So thank you Cottage School staff for 7 years of wonderful camps.