Tara Reed Designs - Art for Licensing

A personal story of motherhood and camping

My son just spent a week as an “Outdoor School Camp Counselor”.  He came home one day (he’s in 10th grade), put a paper in front of me and said, “I’m going to do this.  I get to miss school for a week – but I make up the work, teachers have to sign off on it.  I will be a counselor to 6th graders for a week, earn 1/2 credit for high school, 2 college credits if I write an essay and 100 hours of community service.”

Well how can a mother argue with a child who is taking initiative, going above and beyond and working to help others and help his college resumé?  Certainly not this one!  I was all for it.


I just heard a new label for my style of parenting:  I’m a ‘consultative parent’. Meaning I guide and advise but let my son take responsibility for himself and suffer any potential consequences. (To a point, of course!)  I’m not the mom who double checks every homework assignment – I already completed the 10th grade.  And when I asked him if he had everything he needed for camp the week before and was met with eye-rolls and “relax!” – I decided to let the chips fall where they may on that too.

If the child can drive a car, he should be able to pack for camp, right?  Especially since there was a list to consult.

I have a feeling you know where this story is going… my dear child almost went to camp without a sleeping bag.  He didn’t have a warm enough jacket in my opinion, and no real rain gear – even though that was on the list in all CAPS and BOLD.  He did go without a towel, shampoo, flashlight and a few others things I can’t recall.  I realized he didn’t pack a towel at 11 pm the first night he was gone…

They weren’t allowed any communication during the time they were gone so I had no idea how things were going.  Like any new experience a child heads out on – it could go one of two ways.  I figured he’d come home and say it was the worst week of his life, he was cold and wet and never wanted to do it again.

Luckily I was greeted with a text that said, “It was SWEET!” (That’s good!)  He had a great time – although he did admit to being a little cold at times.  But he said something that made me so proud -

“Mom.  Don’t sweat it. I adapt.”

Well, I guess I’m a pretty good mom, because what is our job, if not to teach our children to adapt and thrive in any circumstance they find themselves in.  Sometimes I feel like a bit less than “Super Mom” because I let my son learn his own lessons more than many mothers I see.  But in the end, teaching him to be independent, happy, optimistic and adaptable is what I’m after.  And I’d say I’m doing a pretty sweet job!

– Tara Reed

0 Responses to A personal story of motherhood and camping

  • What a fantastic experience for both of you, Tara. How great that your son was able to really know that he was responsible for his own packing and the results of it, good or bad. AND how awesome that you are able to see him growing into his own, by giving him the chance to learn in such a loving environment.

    Hovering over our kids to make sure that their nests are fully feathered leaves kids at a bit of a loss when they get out on their own, how nice to be able to make the call when you still are at home and have a net to fall back on for support!

    Thanks for sharing your and your son’s story.

    peace and light

    • Thanks! It isn’t always easy (I had a hard time getting to sleep when I realized he probably forgot his towel!) but certainly makes the transition to college and beyond much easier.

  • Hi Tara,

    In my opinion, you are doing a great job with your son. This is the way I raised my son, now he’s 42, a world traveler, has a most usual occupation and is able to take care of himself where ever in the world he is.

    Thanks for reminding me that I did do the right thing for him!

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