One last hug and they were off…Hunter’s excellent summer camp adventure is underway and I am already missing his presence. Wide awake at the crack of dawn with excitement and anticipation, he came into our room for a final snuggle. Hunter was packed, fairly well-organized, and raring to go. As we wiped away the sleep from our eyes, we began a familiar routine; one that we’ve been perfecting over the last eight summers.
We’ve come a long way. In the early days, packing for camp meant hours of sorting, labeling, bagging and stuffing two oversized duffels with all the necessities for three weeks at sleep-away camp. As the summers passed I became less obsessive about the orderly packing and realized that ironing on labels took precious time that I just did not have; a sharpie worked did the job and didn’t involve taking out an ironing board.
Every summer Hunter would rush the bus with his friends only to choose a seat away from the windows that we were facing. My outstretched arms held empty farewells as my son slipped away into the throng of campers eager to make new memories with his camp family. His back turned to us as the bus rolled out of the parking lot, I didn’t so much as get a wave.
This morning was different. I got hugs (notice the plural) — before leaving the house, at the bus and just before boarding. Actually, the hugs started last night as he assured me that I wouldn’t be missed and not to expect any mail. This morning he chose a seat at the window facing the crowd of parents and well-wishers. This morning he waved and smiled — on the way to his happiest place on earth.
We’ve come a long way.
This is Hunter’s second summer being “out” as a transgender boy at camp. This is his first summer legally as Hunter. He is the first in the camp’s 110+ year history to have lived in the girls’ villages and also to now attend as a boy. This morning he was referred to as a “trailblazer.”
To say that I am grateful for his acceptance at camp would be a gross understatement. My gratitude for this camp and for what they’ve done for Hunter goes deeper than you can ever imagine. They are also acknowledging those that will come after him – both campers and counselors – who will walk in Hunter’s wake knowing that he paved the way.
It will take me a few days to settle in to having less to do – it always does. I might just have to peak into his room a few times over the next couple of days just to appreciate all that my son is and all that he has become. Then, when I feel brave enough, I will straighten up his room taking care to preserve his essence while I count down the days from 40 until I feel his arms around my neck once again.