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Scout Camp 2013: drop off and pick up

If you haven't heard, my son is a Boy Scout...

Dropping him off to scout camp was a little bit out of the ordinary this year. The troop planned a 50-mile afloat goal on a river, which entails needing rides to a drop off point and rides back home from the destination. So, I signed up to haul boys and leaders to the drop off. I use the term drop off purposefully in order to call to your mind when Marlin takes Nemo to his first day of school. Marlin is panicked and over thinking things; he's pretty much making a nuisance out of himself. I used this same analogy at the time in my mind to keep me from becoming the helicopter mom I never wanted to be. Ever.

In spite of myself, I kept reminding him to apply more sunscreen, wear his hat, drink water, hydrate! hydrate! hydrate!, you don't want to get heat stroke, do you?, and I would breathe and hold my tongue in between these episodes. Oh yeah, and I'd fill in the periods of non-harping, while watching him get his gear ready for launching into the river, with, "Man, it's getting really hot outside," and "Dude, I can't believe how hot it is already and it's barely 9 a.m.," and "I am so hot."

It wasn't all weird, I promise. I also told him how proud I was of him and that I love him. I made sure to buy him a little treat and some Gatorade at the last civilized stop before handing him over to the river.

To tell you the truth, when I was standing there in sight of this large river, seeing how capable my boy had become, all I could think about is how he won't be a boy for much longer. And it took my breath away. I am not a weepy person, but the feelings were so strong that I had to fill the space with talking or I might cause a scene.

Then, the scoutmaster thanked the drivers for helping them get to their destination and let us know we were free to leave. I walked over to my son and told him to give me a hug goodbye and that I didn't care if it embarrassed him; he was leaving for a week on a river. He surprised me by saying he wasn't embarrassed and gave me a hug back.

I drove away, and within thirty minutes, I missed that boy so much that I cried.

The week went by quickly. We missed him at home, but made sure to fill our days with lots of fun things like going to the drive-in, the youngest running a sidewalk shop, preparing nice dinners together, and other good times. In all the fun, it just wasn't the same without him there though. I always felt like someone was missing--because someone was.

And today, he came home. I got the call that the scouts were hitting town while out shopping with the other children, and so we wrapped things up and hot-tailed it back to the neighborhood to pick up our river warrior.

I got there quickly. People were unloading endless amounts of gear, so much so that I couldn't see where my scout was in the whole mess. As I went to park my vehicle, one of the leaders walked up to the side and he told me how respectful and good my son had behaved while on the camp. This was music to my ears. Then, I got out of my car and my son came walking over to me so grown up. How does a boy grow up so much in six days? It is astonishing. He started putting his gear into trunk area, and then another leader came over and expressed how well my son conducted himself and how capable he handled the rowing and other physical hardships they faced out on the river. I felt so proud of him. We continued to pack the rest of his stuff in a hum drum, everyday sort of way, but then he stopped and turned to me, and grabbed me in an emotional hug. As we stood there for several minutes, I felt his tears falling onto my shoulder and his arms wrapped around me, begging for the comfort of his mother; and in those minutes, I felt all the love my mother ever had for me well up inside of me, strengthening me so I could help him know how much love I have for him; I felt more aware of my role as a mother in those moments than I ever have to this point when I told him that we missed him and love him and how proud I am of him. I did not expect for him to get emotional. Things have been so difficult with the divorce (aka the emotional taffy pull), so I thought he would be so glad to get away. Not to say that he wasn't glad to get away because we all like to mix things up, but I thought that was all there was to it. But I was wrong, so very happily wrong.

I prayed every night and morning that my son would come back stronger, and I know my prayers were answered.

Before we were able to pull out of the parking lot, can you guess what happened? Yep, the scoutmaster came up to the car, poked his head inside, and told me how responsible and capable my son was out on the river and that I should be very proud of him. I replied that I most definitely am proud of him. Talk about a "proud mom moment". It's one for the record books.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude for all the awesome leaders who have taught my son to be so capable out in nature, on a river, with no help from his parents. My heart is full.

Here is the bit of verse I wrote on Instagram to accompany the above photo, in honor of this year's scout camp:

Camelbaks and knapsacks and trashed-packed backpacks, 
that's what my little boy is made of.

Related links:

Scout Camp 2011: everlasting hopefulness

Scout Camp 2012: boy turns man 

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