Love 'em or hate 'em, school camps are as big an event for parents as they are for kids.
If a camp features in your child's school year, you might just be familiar with some of these common thoughts.
1. How much?!
I reckon we could find cheap flights for the whole family to Bali for that price. OK, maybe not, but surely there's been a misprint on the notice. Maybe an extra zero has been added on?
Even if not Bali, that number represents a child-free weekend away with a massage and a gourmet dinner thrown in. Just how important is all the bonding and self-improvement that is claimed will come from these days away? I'd better get saving.
2. Thank #&^ I'm not a teacher.
High ropes courses, urban adventures, team-building, night hikes, talent quests, camping under the stars... Though some camp activities sound like fun, others are my idea of hell on earth and that's without being responsible for 30-odd children.
Not only are the teachers destined for sleep deprivation, but they're guaranteed to have a handful of boundary-pushers and super-anxious kids thrown in. Vote 1 for a pay rise for teachers with a large bonus for every camp they endure.
3. Will they be OK?
I hope they will be OK. Sob! Will my 'baby' sleep well in the sleeping bag we borrowed from a neighbour at the last minute? Will she eat enough 'delicious and nutritious' camp food to survive? Will my book-obsessed-hermit find that she loves the outdoors? Will my son decide that home life is boring and demand to do adventurous activities every weekend from now on?
4. Minus one
Ah, this is what it would be like if we stopped after x children (where x = one fewer than the number of children you have). For parents of an only child, woo hoo, here's a few days to remember what life was like before kids.
We may not have been able to use the camp fees to fly to Bali but, as they say, a change is as good as a holiday. With one fewer lunch to pack and a few decibels less noise in the house, this feels like a bit of a vacation anyway.
5. I hope they're ok!
I know camp is supposed to be a time of independence away from family, bonding with friends, and learning to rely on their own resources … but I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON! I can't believe there aren't any new photos on Facebook yet. It's nearly 9am and their schedule says that wake up was 6:30.
Where's my app notification about how many kids survived the night? I know they said that there wouldn't be any phone reception where they were going but I thought that was just a lie to help the kids cope without their devices.
6. I miss them
All of them, even the pesky kid who tries to tell me rude jokes every morning at school drop-off. I know it's only been two days but I miss my child. OK, not his morning grumpiness, or her complaints every day that I don't put enough junk food in her lunch. Hmm, maybe I don't miss them that much after all.
7. Pick up? Already?
Phew, it's a good thing that I set a reminder, or my kid would have been that kid who is the only one not to have a parent waiting with open-arms as they stagger off the bus. I can't believe the days have gone by already, I didn't manage to fit in any 'me time' at all. Any chance there might be a huge storm and they get bogged in for a couple of extra days?
8. How much washing?!
Seriously, I don't think we packed this much stuff. I have never seen so much smelly, dirty washing emerging from one person's bag, especially from such a short space of time away.
Any washing I was saved by having one less child in the house has just come back to bite - big time.
9. So grown up
It was only a few days but somehow, he suddenly seems older. Could she have grown in that time? Maybe the camp food wasn't so bad after all. And where did all this confidence come from?
Do we have to wait a whole year for the next camp? Hang the expense, I reckon having school camp twice a year would be just fine.