This weekend we packed our bags and headed out to Family Camp with the church we have been attending for the last several months. When I first mentioned this opportunity to Mr. Awesome I was joking. I thought it would be funny to tell him that I really wanted to go, knowing that he would never in a million years voluntarily go along. He has this weird thing about church camps; I think he may have watched one too many documentaries about Jonestown over the years or something.
Anyway, I told him about it and he said, “Sure … sounds like a great way to get to know more people.” Shocked and confused, I went down to the church the next day and signed us up. I didn’t expect him to go through with it, but he did. On Friday afternoon we dropped the dog off at a kennel and headed in a mostly westerly direction to join a bunch of people we didn’t know at a camp in the middle of nowhere.
And I’m so glad we did!
We spent the weekend meeting new people, hanging out with the kids and laughing. We did a lot of laughing! On Friday and Saturday night we sat around the bonfire until nearly midnight, visiting with our new pals as our children ran wild through the camp. It was amazing to see the kids make new friends and enjoy the freedom of uninhibited play in the safety of this community. It reminded me of being a kid and camping with my parents and all my cousins.
We used to play flash light tag, hide in the tall grass to scare people on their way to the bathrooms and tell spooky stories around the campfire. We had free reign of the place, we could go to the playground, head to the river to skip rocks or go frog catching behind the fish hut. We only saw our parents for meals and bedtime. It was absolute freedom, those sizzling summer days of my childhood, a freedom I never thought my kids would enjoy.
Life is different now, it has to be. There are more dangers, more threats to the safety and innocence of our children so parents have to be more present, more aware than when we were kids. We, those of us who are in our thirties now, are the last generation of the Lost Boys (and Girls), the last who will have memories of playing and riding and exploring from sun up to well past sun down free from the watchful eyes of our parents. We are the last of an aging tribe of day explorers, night runners and unabashed mischief makers.
We will have to be the memory keepers for all the kids who came before us, all the kids who shenaniganned, hijinxed and practiced all manner of prankery for generations, the kids who set the bar, made the legends and caused us to scheme and dream to lofty new heights each of our too few childhood summers. I am sad for the kids to come, that they will never know the thrill of running wild through the woods, wading knee deep in a swamp or prowling around the neighborhood after dark with their own band of adventurers, free from the prying eyes of adults.
And so, last night, as I washed the last of the grime from our weekend explorers, I said a silent prayer of thanks that my kids got at least one weekend to experience childhood in the very best sense, that they, for at least one weekend, got to be part of that fleeting tribe of Lost Boys … and Girls!
So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)