All Day Summer Camp — Mommy Daze

I don’t know about your kids, but mine have been wreaking havoc on my nerves since the day after school let out.

My boys, 6 and almost 5, have been wrestling, arguing, screaming, and whining non-stop this summer. I decided they were due for a week-long, all-day summer camp. It was really for everyone’s sanity.

Friends of mine had raved about a completely outdoor summer camp at River’s Edge Forest School which has locations in West River, Stevensville, and Trappe Maryland. They are described as “a nature immersion program designed to nurture children through nature play”. Their summer camps are completely outdoors, which I knew my younger son Luke would adore but my older son James would be hesitant about. My younger son Luke loves to climb trees, pick up bugs, and be adventurous. James is much more cautious, cleanly, and terrified of bugs. I figured a nature immersion program would be perfect for them. . . or terrible . . .only one way to find out!

The camps run Monday through Friday, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. This would be the boys’ first time at an all-day summer camp. With Luke starting kindergarten this Fall, I figured this would be a good way to ease him into being away from me that long. So, I packed up their backpacks with a change of clothes, towel, bug spray, water bottle, lunch and snacks. They attended the “Hero’s of the Forest” camp in West River and seemed excited but nervous. I felt the same way. Even though I was excited to have so much free time during the day to get projects done and run errands, I was nervous about being away from my kids that long. But on the first day, they ran off to be with the group of kids without even looking back.

The first day of their camp was full of climbing, exploring, digging in mud, swinging, pretending, and tons of creative play. I was ecstatic to see some pictures on the camps Facebook page of all the kids enjoying their day. At four o’clock I picked up two very dirty, stinky, exhausted boys. As I had expected, Luke was bubbling over with stories of his adventures, where James immediately showed me the bee sting he had got (which I had received a call about earlier in the day from the camp counselor, so I was prepared), the blisters on his heels, and a thorough description of how ‘yucky’ the creek was with all its mud. But once he got all that off his chest, he shared some of the highlights of his day which seemed to make him very proud. That night all of us parents received an email recap of the day about what our children did and learned there, along with more pictures. My kids slept so great that night!

The next couple days of camp were similar, but with fun new activities awaiting the kids each day. Some days they would ‘rescue’ stuffed animals from the villains of the forest or create their own super power ‘potions’ from ingredients they’d find in nature. The day always included lots of free play where the children could come up with their own games, explore, and enjoy their favorite forest activities. James seemed to become more comfortable with being out of his element and even seemed open to trying new things while at home. The lead counselor shared with us her observations on how much the boys had grown through overcoming their fears and being challenged at the camp. I could definitely see that in their behavior. But I was not surprised when they told me on the last day that they were happy the camp was over. Not because they hadn’t enjoyed it, but because they were exhausted from all they had done that week! Even though it was fun, it also had pushed them to think outside the box and do things they wouldn’t normally choose to do. They’re already excited to go again next summer, which makes me happy! As much as I love playing with my kids and doing new things, I admit, this pregnant mama was perfectly content to let others spend the day with them in the woods splashing in mud and climbing trees.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the camps and programs at River’s Edge, visit their website at www.RiversEdgeForestPlay.com.

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.