As you might recall from Joelle last year, my reunion with her didn't quite go as I had anticipated so I was a bit more prepared this time to not get the reaction I was really wanting. When Les, Joelle and I arrived at the camp, we all walked to her cabin ready to say hello to our young camper. But when we got there, she was nowhere in sight. I thought she must be playing on the playground or something, until one of her counsellors motioned behind us and indicated that she was hiding behind one of the mattresses that several of the other campers were holding up in front of her. There were all sorts of giggles and attempts to make me believe that "Malia's not here - she's outside on the playground."
I was sad to not immediately get to see her face and her reaction to our arrival, but yet I was also happy that she seemed to be having a really good time goofing off with the new friends she had made. So we casually said "Okay, we'll just have to go wait outside for her then." Les and Joelle proceeded to take a bit of a walk, but I stayed nearby the cabin door, anxiously waiting for that first glimpse of her.
After only a moment I saw her climb down the bunkbed ladder and then she ran over to me and gave me my hug! She was all smiles as she ran towards me...until she reached me. Then her expression changed a bit and I could tell that she was trying to control her emotions.
My little angel had definitely missed her Mama.
After the initial delay in greeting us, she refused to leave our sides. Mine especially. At the closing chapel she wanted to sit in the back with us, where the other parents and family members were. We convinced her to sit with the rest of her cabin though since this was the last time she would be seeing them. She hesitantly agreed only to return to us moments later insisting that she wanted to sit with us. We told her okay, but she had to tell her counsellor so that they knew where she was. I watched her scamper off to tell one of the counsellors. And I also watched her struggle to keep her tears back as she was told she was supposed to sit with her cabin group. The expression on her face was enough to break my heart as I knew the only thing she wanted right then was to be close to her family who she had obviously missed very dearly.
But she worked really hard to put on a brave face and as the chapel began and the singing started, I watched her slowly get more and more involved and less and less visually upset.
I knew this sweet girl had experienced a wonderful time at camp. I knew she had made friends and a lot of great memories. But I also knew that this girl was going to need some extra TLC to make her feel secure.
We brought her home and she was excited at the Welcome Home banner we had made for her - that she had requested when we dropped her off two days prior. :) As we had lunch and wanted to know all about her time at camp (the girls had asked for a movie on the 45 minute drive home so we hadn't yet had much time to talk to her about her experience), I could tell she was getting very overwhelmed. I think she was just going through so many emotions - probably already missing camp, yet still processing the feelings of homesickness that she battled while there.
My little miss Malia: I am so happy for you that you got to have this experience. I'm excited for your chance that you had to ride a horse and to meet new friends. I'm proud of you for facing this new experience head-on. And I'm thankful that I was brave enough to let you go. But of course on top of all of that - I'm thankful that you are home.
Home at last.