Friday, July 1, 2011

Three cheers for the village

I drive Joni to camp tomorrow.  For three weeks, she'll bike with other unwashed adolescents through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They'll carry clothes, sleeping bags,and food on bikes as they trek through the wilderness. She's been counting the days until she meets her friends at Common Ground, where I shall drop her off.  I predict that Joni will grow stronger and more capable in the next three weeks.  Through her biking community-- peers and counselors--she will learn things that I couldn't begin to teach at home.  I am  grateful that I don't have to try!

Next summer, Joni wants to be a counselor; this is her last year as a camper.
 Since age nine she has been involved with BYM camps (Click here to see Joni at nine with a pink cloth on her head). I dropped her off the first year, and that was that.  No backward looks toward mom, certainly no tears...She was ready.  Seven years later, Joni has strong roots in the Baltimore Yearly Meeting camp community.  Through camp she has become involved in BYM youth conferences as well. She has friends in high school, but the people who really get her--- and vice-versa---are camp friends. Those are the peers who most support and challenge my daughter.

Joni will come back from camp with an awesome attitude. She will be helpful, cheerful, confident, even glowing.  The post-camp glow will fade somewhat in time; however, the character building skills have taken root and are permanently part of my daughter.   Someone told me that they couldn't do what I do: raise children alone.   I don't think that I do.  The village is definitely doing much of the work.  Montessori school, extended friends and family, religious community, and camp all play an active role in raising my children. I couldn't do it half as well by myself.

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