On Monday I dropped Katherine off at church camp. For the week. She had been to day camp there, but never overnight. But this year she was too old for day camp and would have to spend a week if she wanted to go at all. To my surprise, she was excited about this. In fact, she couldn't wait to go!
Now some of the best moments of my youth were spent at church camp. Some of them at this very camp. But I have to admit, that leaving my 9 year old there was a whole different experience than going as a camper or a counselor. Katherine has battled all sorts of fears and anxieties in her life, and for several years I wasn't sure a week alone at camp would ever be a part of her future. She has come a long, long way but she has never spent the night with anyone other than her grandparents and even then it has sometimes been a struggle. And the last time she was handed off to strangers for more than a few hours was, well, the day she left the orphanage and was placed with us... I had to keep reminding myself that the camp counselors were well trained. And Katherine was ready. More than ready. She was thrilled with the idea of a whole week of camp. And I so want her to have the whole marvelous experience of camp. She would be just fine.
Rachel, on the other hand, was a wreck. Kate and I left her sobbing in Steve's arms Monday afternoon. She wanted to go, too and she missed Katie (who had not yet left). We tried to plan some special things for Rae - playdates, dinner out, extra stories and snuggle time. But is was clear that Rachel did not much appreciate the chance to be an only child. She asked dozens of times a day, "What is Katherine doing now?" She moped around the house. She slept poorly. She said over and over "I miss Katie. I want her to come home NOW!" She was so lonely she even had pretend fights with an imaginary Katherine. The first night she went in to brush her teeth, always a prime argument time. She hollered from the bathroom "Katherine hit me!" and then peeked around the corner, grinning. It has been a long, hard week for Rachel. Her first words this morning were "Today we get to pick up Katherine!"
We arrived at camp in time to hear the kids singing some off their favorite songs of the week. Then there was a video of all the things they had done, with Katherine's dear face in the middle of it all. When the campers were released, Kate ran right to us and threw her arms around me. That doesn't happen very often. When it was Rachel's turn for hugs, she didn't want to let go. She was so happy to have her sister back.