And I thought that I was a crazy camp mom....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I just read an article from The Wall Street Journal titled Parents Scrutinize Online Camp Photos to Check on Kids .  The article talks about crazy sleep-away camp mothers and their obsession with the photos that the camps post online.

This is an actual shot of my child! 

This is my sixth summer as a Sleep-away camp mom.  My oldest son started at age 10.  His camp does posts photos of the kids doing various activities. They have no schedule or method for posting. Some days they post hundreds of photos. Other days none. There is no set time for posting them.  Even when they post a lot of photos, there may be none of your kids.  Luckily, they do not post videos.

The photos are one of those things in life that are either great or horrible.  

The good:
-When your child writes you on the first day of camp, yet never again writes to you, you know he is alive

- Some of the shots are priceless. This week I spotted my son in a kayak race and at an amusement park. Last week the photog caught my cranky teenager cracking up.  They  looked amazing.

- When they get home, they have shots of their summer friends as they were way to busy having fun to stop and take any photos during camp.

- When you miss them and spot a photo of them, it is a nice feeling. During my eldest son's first year, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night after perusing the camp photos to show me the first perfect shot of him.

- My youngest son broke his arm during his first few days of camp during his first year. Seeing photos a few days later of him horseback riding and being pulled behind a boat on a tube made me realize that he was totally fine, even with the waterproof cast.

The bad:

- Days go by and you don't spot a photo of your child. You think about calling the camp to make sure he has not run away. One of my crazy friend has called  camp on more than one occasion in the past to demand a "proof of life" shot.

- During the first few years of camp, you must analyze every photo. "Is my child in the middle of the group photos or on the ends?"  "Is that smile fake?" "Why is he wearing the same t-shirt in every single photo for an entire week?"

The Ugly

- You spot your child in a sweatshirt in the daytime in July and everyone else is in a t-shirt. You cannot help yourself from writing him to figure out why he is being so weird.

- You spot your child with an ace bandage on his ankle. You have to speculate as to what happened until the camp office is open the next day (just a sprain)

- You wonder why they are not in photos with girls. You wonder why they are in too many photos with girls.

- One of my son's friends is at camp for his first year and looks miserable in every single photo. I truly think he is messing with his mother! 

Luckily, I am not as crazy as the parents in the WSJ article. One summer, one of my son's bunkmates seemed to be in every photo.  Turns out, his parents offered him a buck for every shot he got in. He probably bought himself a mercedes when he got home with the winnings!

I also don't tell my kids to do a thumbs up or other sign and I definitely don't pay for photo sightings.   I ask them to try to get in a photo with their brother and/or cousins at least once per summer. So far, nothing. Part of the camp experience is to become more independent.  Another part is to get away from your nagging mother.  Luckily for everyone, the campers will come home this weekend and I will get to see them in person.  


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