I took one last look at my little man, balancing his pack and his gear in his arms as he ambled up the path towards the other campers. This was the first full weekend he would be away from both parents and I was nervous. What if he got scared of the dark? What if he got homesick? What if he got lonely?

I walked around the rest of the weekend feeling like I’d left my keys, wallet and phone somewhere, patting myself down mentally, feeling the absence of my sidekick acutely. I worried as moms do. I knew he was in the very best of hands, but I was still concerned. It turns out I’m a bit of a control freak (Who knew? Ok, everyone. Everyone knew.)

When the time came to finally retrieve him, it was like looking at a completely different kid. It wasn’t just that he was tanned and covered in evidence of his communion with nature. He carried himself differently. He navigated the campground with confidence. He eagerly relayed at light-speed the many new and exciting experiences he had enjoyed.

There was rock climbing, and as he told us, he invoked a little known safety rule about not rock climbing too soon after a meal, which sounded a bit like an adaptation of swimming related wisdom and like he might be covering up a fear of heights. He conquered this fear somewhat on the zip line, demonstrating his prowess saying, “Let me show you how the pros do it!”

He showed us the blisters he earned, complaining it hurt his hand a little to zip along the lines. His dad declared him “perhaps a bit sensitive” and my son wisely pointed out that it’s good to be sensitive sometimes. I couldn’t help but agree with his perspective. He’s truly an old soul.

“Did you miss us, buddy?” we asked, hopeful. He shook his head emphatically. We were a tiny bit crestfallen, but proud of his bravery and independence.

“Do you want to come back again this summer?” we asked. He nodded his head vigorously while jumping up and down. There was nothing ambiguous about his reply.

Among  all the amazing things he experienced, what stood out most was a lesson he learned and relayed to us about the zip line: don’t hold on too tightly, or you might get hurt. It seems we all learned a little about letting go that weekend at summer camp, and he took the time to show us how the pros do it.

This post originally appeared on UrbanMoms.ca.

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