How NOT to drop your 6-year-old off at sleep-away camp

I thought I had the camp thing down, but we ran in to a snag on the way to dropping Eric off at Camp Namanu. It’s raining, and Brian says, “You grabbed his raincoat, right?” I’m all, “No! You asked me where it was and I said I didn’t know. I thought you were finding it!”
We figured we could make a quick stop at Fred Meyer and still make it there on time.
Unfortunately, FM doesn’t have any outerwear to speak of, it being July and all. After racing through every apparel section looking for anything that could work, I finally found a $2 plastic poncho in the camping section. Why didn’t I think of that 10 minutes ago?
By the time we got up to Camp Namanu, we were towards the end of the 30-minute drop-off window of time. “Whew!” We said, “We made it on time, still!”
But the problem was, all the other campers were already settled in to the lodge, so Eric was the only kid being dropped off.
Here he is, pre-melt-down:

He seemed fine until the moment when he had to walk down the path with the strangers, aka camp counselors.
He started walking down the path, then turned around with big watery eyes to ask for one more hug.
I should’ve just waved, and said “you’ll be great, have fun!” and then walked away.
but I didn’t. He’s my baby and I ran back to give him another hug and it was all over.
Walking back to the car.
Physically resisting any attempt to get him to go with the counselors.
No amount of cajoling or reasoning could convince him that he was going to have a good time.

I walked partway down the path with him, then moved away while the counselors talked to him.
He finally went down the path with one of the male counselors, but he may have thought I had already left because I was hiding up the path behind a tree. I feel like I’ve betrayed him.
I hate that he has this experience of me leaving him with strangers when he said he didn’t want to stay. Even if he has the best time ever, he’ll remember that I left him against his will.
I’m sure people deal with this with preschool and school drop offs, but I’ve never had to deal with this before.
I keep remembering a situation with Anna at Disney’s California Adventure. She did NOT want to go on the Mickey Fun Wheel, and we made her go anyway, saying, “Trust us, you will have a BLAST!” She did NOT. Instead, she screamed bloody murder the whole time.
Hopefully, we were right, and Eric will have a wonderful time. And hopefully, he won’t remember that I walked away from him as he was crying and struggling against the people holding him on that path! I need to remember him walking peacefully down the path and hope he forgives me!

So here’s how to avoid making the same mistakes I made:
1. If it’s raining, make sure you have the raincoat.
2. Get there early so the little one is surrounded by other little ones.
3. If they start to cry, run away before it turns in to a full-on melt-down.



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