Like all parents, I remember so clearly the day he was born. And like all parents I am amazed at how fast the years have flown by. My son Will turns 12 today and while I don’t remember having any clear expectations of the kind of person I wanted him to become he seems to be exceeding them all, right before my eyes. It’s not that I don’t want to kill him on occasion and it’s not that he doesn’t drive his siblings (Mollie and Graham) crazy now and again but all and all, Will is a good kid who lives life each day with a smile on his face and plenty of love in his heart.
He started middle school this year and also discovered girls. He suddenly wants to look his best and spends a good deal of time in the bathroom primping and preparing himself before he heads out the door. He goes to bed late and can no longer get up without being dragged from his bed. He’s rarely sick and while he’s not an overly terrific student he rarely misses school; the social aspect, especially the girls might have something to do with this. He’s a good athlete, not a rock star but good. He wrestles, plays baseball and soccer. Living in Maryland, I’d hoped he would take an interest in lacrosse but for whatever reason that hasn’t happened.
If I had to come up with one thing that Will really loves I would have to say camp; not camping but camp. Since he was 8 he has been fortunate enough to spend his summers in Vermont attending an all boys camp called Keewaydin. Keewaydin has been around for over 100 years and operates today much the same as it did when it first opened its tent flaps all those years ago. Here boys are allowed and encouraged to be boys. They build fires, tell stories, rough-house, go on canoe trips, sing songs, shoot arrows, swim, eat bad food, wear the same clothes day after day and learn what it takes to be away from home and to live in a community full of strangers. And best of all, no electronics of any kind are permitted. I love this part!
Last year, Will stayed at camp for the full 8 weeks and became an “Old Timer” since this was his fourth year as a camper. Some parents find it difficult to accept the idea that their child will be gone and away from home for such a long time but the way I see it, I’m preparing my son to be independent and adventurous. He’ll need these skills in our fast-paced, ever-changing world, and camp is a great place for him to gain these skills; it’s a good thing.
I started by saying that I had no real expectations of the kind of person I wanted Will to become. In fact, that’s not true. I wanted him to be like my father, his namesake. I wanted him to grow to be honest, to have integrity, to be independent and not follow the herd. To work hard at what’s important, to be a good neighbor and as they say at Keewaydin to “help the other fellow.” As I think about these things, I am lucky because this is pretty much what I got. Parenthood, what a ride. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Happy Birthday Will!
On we go….