I'm not going to lie. Visiting day at camp was hard. We knew Eitan and Jonah were going to ask to come home when we got there. They were happy to see us and cried in the first few minutes and really cried when we left. In between, they showed us their lovely rooms, each with 4 cots, a shower and toilet, and very strong air conditioning. Eitan has a best friend, Tom, from Bulgaria in his room. Jonah has 2 boys going home from his room, but his friend is moving in so he is excited about that. They loved the food packages we brought, which were grotesque in quantity for 5 more nights, but the only way we could spoil the boys besides taking them home.
The camp is a naval boarding school during the other seasons with a large waterfront on the Mediterranean Sea. Wow. It is really beautiful. It is also well run, with lovely and professional counselors and administrators. You can rest assured that the kids are in good hands in a spectacular environment having fun filled days with campy dancing, Maccabi Games, Shabbas and more.
Jonah is surfing, which he wants to continue in Tel Aviv. Eitan was surfing and liked it, but is switching to a cooking activity with Tom the Bulgarian. We know that for most of the day, the boys are engaged in active, physical, joyful, and fun activities. They have highs and lows, and of course, the lows are hard.
Elie and I reflect on our camp experiences, which included homesickness along with making lifelong friendships and great memories. We really hope Eitan and Jonah will make it to the finish line and feel the love of the last days where they hug their friends goodbye and cry because they are leaving. They also have a “prom” which sounds really fun.
We aren't sure yet if we will pick them up a few days early. It feels like such a long time. 6 more days!! Are we forcing this? When Eitan cries, “I have been here for 8 days already, isn't that enough??” He is right! Isn't that enough? Will he never want overnight camp again? What if things turn around for him and week 2 is the best week ever?
This is one of those parenting conundrums where it isn't so great to give in and bring them home early, but it also feels terrible to force it on them. It’s just camp. These are the kind of experiences that build grit and confidence, and ultimately lead to happier, healthier humans even though it comes with despair. Maybe it's because the experiences come with despair. We desperately want them, especially Eitan who is struggling more, to gain the skills to be OK with situations that push him out of his comfort zone.
To be honest, I too need to be pushed out of my comfort zone (which is oh so comfy!!) and this whole living in a new city new country seems to qualify. Both Eitan and I are in good and safe places, literally and emotionally, and we have what we need. We should push through and gain new strengths, new perspectives. Retreat is an option, but won't maximize our period of self discovery. We need to get through each day with resolve, taking the highs balanced with the lows. Maybe I will rename visiting day to confronting reality day.
Happy 9th birthday to Jonah. He told us they will make him “skip around the room” at breakfast. Thank you for sending emails. He is proud of his big stack! Keep them coming. It's a highlight for the kids to receive.