A Mother’s Reflections on Sending Her Kids to Camp

By Julie McLaughlin: 

What kind of mother would send her child away from the comforts and safety of home for the summer? Surely I would never do that. So when my husband suggested that our boys should have a summer camp experience, as he had as a child, I balked. No way! He insisted. I packed the trunk, but refused to be the one to drive my 8-year-old north, drop him off, and wave good-bye. Three and a half weeks later, I couldn’t wait to pick up Alex. Upon our arrival to Birch Rock, Alex proudly showed us around camp, introduced us to the new friends he had made, then began the pitch to allow him to stay for the rest of the summer! Fast forward nine years, and my three sons had been spending their summers at BRC for a combined 18 years! In 2011, Alex was a CIT, and Patrick and Trevor were in “upper camp.”

Despite being varsity athletes, they have chosen to forgo specialty sports camps. Maybe they don’t recognize the value of the simple, clean-living, cooperative environment that Birch Rock provides in the same way that we do as adults. They certainly know that being at BRC––after a year of stressful academics, competitive athletics, and the whirlwind schedule that our family of six keeps––is renewing, refreshing, and relaxing. All things that kids these days need. Birch Rock is more than just a camp. It is a place where our values are embraced, where boys are challenged and motivated, and molded into fine young men. It is a place where modern technology and creature comforts take a back seat, in order for nature to come forth in all her glory. It is truly a special place. So I am, after all, the kind of mother that would send her child to camp for the summer.

My three sons continued to spend their summers at Birch Rock as campers, CITs, and as Counselors. Not only did that choice not harm their college applications, I’d argue that it helped. All were accepted to their college of choice, participated in their sports, and flourished. During their college years, if they weren’t able to spend the entire summer as Counselors, they figured out a way to spend at least part of it on the hillside. The strong connections that they made during their youth to the people and that magical place continue to be a part of their lives.

Alex graduated from Johns Hopkins and now lives in LA and works in finance. Patrick graduated from the US Naval Academy and is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Trevor spent two years at Loyola in New Orleans and is living in San Francisco working as a catering chef and pursuing his love of skateboarding. The boys are jealous when we tell them we are going up to camp and want us to report back to them. I know that whenever they have the chance, they’ll find a way to get back to Birch Rock. It’s just that good.

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