Later today, Britches, Little Man, Little Sister, and I will be leaving out to make our way to 4th and 5th grade church camp. My children are thrilled to be going this year, because this will be a first for them. I'm really excited about all the things I know they will learn while they're there, and I'm also excited about the new kids I'll get to meet and have a chance to pour the love of Jesus into their lives! Departure time can't get here soon enough! But that hasn't always been the case.
Ever since my kids were very small, there are only a handful of people who have ever kept them - mostly grandparents. Brient and I have never been ones to drop our kids just anywhere and leave them. There are just too many crazy people in the world, and I just don't trust anybody. I have always said, "My kids will NEVER go to church camp! I don't know the people who will be working it, so I don't know what they will be taught, if they will be looked after well, or even if they will end up being mistreated." That was it. Done deal. They were never going.
At this point, you may be thinking, "Wow, she's really overprotective of her kids." My answer to you is this - YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!! God put Brient and me in charge of them, and it is our greatest responsibility to do the best job possible. And it's not like I'm just making up crazy things that could never happen. I have heard too many times of people, in the church, who have been put in prison for child molestation. Just a few short years back, the Catholic church was put under hard scrutiny, because of priests that were taking advantage of young boys. There are crazy people out there, and they can and will make their way into churches. People think everything is fine, until, one day, you hear from a friend that their child has been abducted or abused by this "good Christian man/woman" that everyone in the church really liked. Enough said.
As my children have grown a bit older, we have taught them that there are people in the world who are not good. We have taught them, on our own terms, what to do if "whatever" happens. We have TAUGHT them! We have not just thrown them out there to the wolves to be eaten alive. They have aged, they have grown in maturity, and the seasons have changed. No longer are my kids small children who are completely helpless. But now they have a voice, and they know the "rules" to keep themselves as safe as possible.
One other thing that makes a difference is the fact that I am going with them. I am not "sending" my kids to camp, but I am "taking" them. We will be there together, and I will have an eye on them at all times while they are having fun and playing with new friends. Also, I know most of the people who will be at the camp with us. We have been going to our church for a little over a year now, and we have formed some very good friendships with the people there. And I don't mean just a "Hi, how are you" kind of friendship. I mean the kind where you hang out together often, you call on the phone, you eat together, and visit at each others' house. Most of the people going with us are people that I completely trust! Which means, even if my eyes aren't on all of my kids, someone that I know and trust WILL have their eye on them!
There are different seasons in your life and in your kids lives. In the beginning, it is your job to protect them at all costs. As they get older, and as the seasons of life change, they gain more freedom and more responsibility. It's still your job to watch out for them, but in a different way. It becomes your job to "teach" them the things they need to know to look out for themselves. And when the seasons of life change, and you begin to let your kids do things you didn't once let them do, it doesn't mean you are a bad parent or going back on your word or whatever. Times change. It's OK to change your mind!
So just because I once said "My kids will never go to camp," that doesn't mean I'm bad now for letting them. Things change, circumstances change, and I changed my mind! And that's OK!
So in a few hours, we will be leaving to go to camp. And I can't wait!! This is going to be a fantastic four days! I'm glad the seasons have changed.