I mentioned last week that Maya was going to Not Back to School Camp. We went up on Friday to drop her off, and even though I’d read the handbook and knew in advance that things were pretty rustic, I couldn’t help thinking as we stood in the open air cabin after walking past the outhouses and outdoor handwashing stations that this was very far from Maya’s idea of a comfort zone.
There was a time, not so long ago, when a ladybug in the bedroom at night was cause for an all out search and destroy mission (we gave up search and rescue at some point – my pacifist tendencies do not extend to ladybugs after midnight) lest it have the nerve to alight anywhere near her bed.
So I stood in the cabin with no small amount of trepidation. Would she sleep at all?
Then there is the lack of phone service. No cell phones. No texting, no chat. Phone cards are to be used only in case of emergency. Maya’s initial plan was to call us and her best friends every night. Instead I got a short phone call yesterday telling me that all was well and we’d speak again next Sunday the 29th when we pick her up.
Remember how we used to always say “No news is good news”? Yes, that.
I could go on. The lack of meat and caffeine was a concern. She took a couple of packs of Turkey Jerky and cut down on caffeine in the days before leaving.
Not to mention knowing no one except Brenna McBroom, one of the (amazing) staff members. And being among the younger campers. Leaving her standing there on her own and driving away was no easy task on my part, I will tell you. (Brenna very kindly sent me a message the next morning telling me that Maya seemed to be having a great time and had already made a bunch of friends. My sigh of relief might have been audible for miles.)
Here’s the thing. Maya decided over a year ago that she wanted to attend NBTSC this year and her decision never wavered. She was definitely nervous on the day but her being there was 100% her doing. She voluntarily put herself so far out of her comfort zone that you would need a long range telescope to spot it – how many adults would do as much?
I can’t say for sure that unschooling plays a role in her ability to do something like this; she’s always been very single minded in her decisions, but my suspicion is that it does, somehow; whether in the knowledge that she’d be with other unschooled kids and therefore less likely to be shut out by clique-ish behavior or simply in the knowledge that since she’s always been told she can do anything she puts her mind to, that this would be no different…
In any case, she did it. She went, and by her account and Brenna’s she is enjoying herself. I’m sure it won’t be perfect, but then again I heard another camper at drop off describe NBTSC as “the best place on earth”, so I might be wrong about that.
Bottom line? Perfect or not, it’s a great experience. By next week she may believe what we have always known; anything is possible.