“Daddy, is this the way the bus will go to camp each day?”

We have been talking about riding on the camp bus for years now. We regularly stand outside and wave at school buses that drive by the house. But getting that question was a flashback for me, so I told Brandon, “Yes, the bus will take you this way just like it took Daddy when he was little.”

I started going to summer camp when I was around Brandon’s age, and seeing just how excited he was about the idea of taking a bus without us had me grinning. He had no idea what to expect when the bus actually arrived at its destination.

He did have one question he was worried about. “Who will be home when I get off the bus? What if no one is there?” I let him know that either me or someone else would be there every day to hear about all the cool things he did. Brandon put his finger on his chin, thought about it for a second, looked at me and said, “Ok Daddy that sounds great.”

To make sure Brandon wasn’t totally overwhelmed on Day 1, we went to an open house so he could see everything camp has to offer. We parked in the same area where I used to get dropped off to start the camp day myself decades ago (wow am I dating myself). After we checked in, we met a few other kids who would be starting camp with Brandon this summer. They all sheepishly said hello (I’ve seen more affection at an eighth-grade dance from across the room), but then got more excited when they realized they could all take a golf cart ride together for our tour of the camp.

Brandon wanted us to sit on the back of the golf cart because “this way we can have a good view of everything.” So we hopped on. (I had flashbacks to my days working as a cart boy at a golf course.) As we drove around the camp, those flashbacks continued. Despite the changes and upgrades camp has gone through over the years, memories came flooding back to me. I had some of my best summers and met some friends at camp that I still have to this day. I watched Brandon’s face as we drove past each area and he saw things like archery, rock-climbing, the lake – all of the possibilities he could explore in just a short time.

As we drove past the pool where Brandon will have swim lessons and free swim each day, he turned to me and asked, “Daddy is this the pool you worked at as a lifeguard?” (I guess he does listen when I tell stories sometimes.) I nodded. “And I get to swim here now that I can swim?” he asked. “Yep.” I said. Brandon let out a big “Yesssss!” We kept driving around the camp to see a few more activities he could try. That’s when I got the real ego boost of the day. We drove past the obstacle course and zipline area. Instead of first saying how excited he was to try it out (which he did later, repeatedly), he started with, “Daddy did they have this when you went here or are you too old?” Unfortunately, too old buddy, but glad you’re excited about it.

At the end of the tour on our way out from camp, Brandon asked me to stop the car to take a picture with him in front of the camp sign. After we took our selfie, I asked him what his favorite part of the camp and tour was. He looked at me with a big smile and said, “Everything but mostly that I got to come here with you.” Believe me buddy, that was the best part for me too.

June 2022
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