Scenic view of trees at camp

A First-Time Camper Mom’s Experience

by Valerie Morby

Camper being greeted by counselors

Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Michelle Tanzola, a mom who sent her daughter to Pine Cove Camp in the City for the first time last summer! Check out what the experience was like for her.

I am not a “hoverer” when it comes to parenting. At least, I don’t like to think of myself as one. Yes, my daughter is my only child and yes, I may be just slightly overprotective, but a hoverer? No, not me.

So when the prospect of sending her to overnight camp came up several years ago, I wholeheartedly embraced rejected the idea immediately. “She’s too little!” I exclaimed. “She’ll be homesick!” I lamented. “She’s not ready!” I sighed. And for a while, I was able to convince myself that all of that was true.

Fast forward to last summer, when my eight-year-old began really spreading her wings. And I, as her non-hoverer, very forward-thinking, progressive mother, went into full-on panic mode.

“I’ll compromise,” I reasoned. “I’ll send her to a day camp where she can meet some new people and try some fun new things without being away from home.” So, off to Pine Cove’s Camp in the City we went. Needless to say, I was less than prepared for what awaited me… and her.

Driving into the church parking lot that first day where the camp would take place, we were met by a gauntlet of young, energetic, happy, positive, LOUD camp counselors, who, if you could harness their energy and enthusiasm, could power a small town. My daughter and I both looked at each other with a mixture of awe and reservation, not sure what we had gotten ourselves into.

We made our way to the check-in table, where we stood in a (very short and efficiently managed) line to confirm our registration. A little boy in line next to us, probably 9 or 10 years old, asked my daughter, “Have you ever been to Camp in the City before?”

“No,” she hesitantly responded.


Stunned silence.

I immediately had two thoughts flash through in mind, in direct conflict with each other:

  1. I must grab my daughter and flee.
  2. She is going to have such a good time!

But she didn’t have a good time.

She had a GREAT time!!! It was a wonderful experience for both her and me from start to finish. From the Pine Cove app, where I got updates and photos every day of what the campers were doing, to the fantastic staff, to the counselor who stayed in touch with her even after camp was over, it was truly one of the best things I think I could have done for her.

At the end of the five days, she exclaimed, “Momma, I WANT TO GO TO PINE COVE OVERNIGHT CAMP!!!!!!!”

So that’s we did—I sent her to Winterfest in Columbus this past December. I figured a weekend away was a good way for her (and I) to try out whether or not she was ready for a week during the summer. And I’m sure by now you can guess what happened: she had a GREAT time.

Summer is quickly approaching. She is scheduled to attend her first week of overnight camp in late July. Am I nervous? Of course. Will I miss her? Terribly. But doing Camp in the City and then Winterfest has prepared both of us for this next adventure. I am 100 percent confident that she will have a fantastic time, make new friends, and develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

My daughter is my baby. I, like lots of other moms and dads I’m sure, keep trying to hang on to that probably more than I should. But getting her involved in Pine Cove and sending her off to have these new experiences has been good for her and for me.

I think it’s time to take a step back, at least for now, and try to minimize my hovering a bit. Not that I ever really did that.


Posted Apr 14, 2016

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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