Surviving 5th Grade Camp

A rite of passage for fifth-graders, before they move onto the middle school in the Cinnaminson School District, is 5th Grade Overnight Camp. Each year Cinnaminson’s fifth-grade classes travel to Camp Ockanickon in Medford and rough it for three days. Students engage in various outdoor educational activities and learn what it’s like to be at summer camp. How cool is that?

They canoe, swim, run through obstacle courses, learn about nature and I think they gain some camping skills—my girls did mention something about compass study. They bunk in cabins without electricity or running water. They are on their own in a way that is new to most of them. It’s an incredible learning experience for children and parents too—even those like me who send their kids off, stay home and try not to worry.

Students share cabins with randomly selected classmates and two chaperones. They don’t find out who they are with until right before they board the buses. As you can imagine, this makes the kids a little nervous but it’s a great opportunity to make new friends and stretch their social circles.

As much as I wanted to go with my girls, I thought they would get much more out of the trip if I wasn’t there. They definitely need a little space from me, “the mom who works at their school,” and I think I’ve been on every other school trip they’ve taken. To add to that, I’m not much of a nature girl and really like sleeping in my own bed, so I had some selfish motives keeping me at home too.

There were no cell phones allowed on the trip so I couldn’t talk to them for three days. It was like a shock to our family system. They’ve been away before but I could always talk to them. This time, they were cut off from me completely. It was weird but they did fine and so did I.

My girls came home tired and ready to be home. Each day, I hear more stories about camp—how fun it was that teachers danced at the dance party, their principal did the jitterbug, the so-called scary stories told around the fire were not so scary, the food was pretty bad, there were spiders in the cabins and the bathrooms were gross but it was still fun. They won’t forget playing Ockanickon Idol, the teacher dance-off during the laser light show, or how silly their computer teacher was while deejaying the dance party.

Once they mentioned the dance party, I had to ask, “Were there slow songs at the dance party?”

“No, Mom!” they answered in unison.

Thank goodness. I don’t think I’m ready to survive that yet!

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