EEK! -O-Week Trip for 5th-Graders

It's here! It is Eco-Week and in 2 and a half days, my baby son and the entire 5th grade at O'Dea Core Knowledge will leave for Pingree Park up in the Poudre Canyon.  They'll be gone for 2 nights and 3 days; that is 53 hours and 15 minutes without my Ezrah. My first baby is going on a 3-day camping trip WITHOUT Mom & Dad. EEK!
This trip is a 30-year tradition in the Poudre School District. The 5th-graders celebrate Eco-Week by going on a camping trip to give the kids a hands-on outdoor educational experience...without their parents. They have been preparing since school started. Because this is such a major independent thing,  the kids are sure to have a blast.  It will probably be so fun that I'm thinking this will be quite a transformative experience. I am a little beside myself as I am packing his stuff, realizing that Eco-Week is finally here and he leaves in 2 1/2 days and counting.

Will he Get Eaten by a Bear?
Pingree Park is part of Colorado State University. It is up in the Poudre Canyon and along the Pouder River. They will be camping, hiking, doing a ropes course and celebrating Eco-Week and more importantly, independence. 

Here's what the ropes course looks like...OMG...I'm just going to erase these images from my mind in hope of sanity while he's gone. But I thought I'd share because it IS kinda cool!

My heart is so full of pride as I watch my big boy growing up. On one hand, I am so excited that he is becoming a young man and on the other, I want to super glue him to me. I know, I know, the super glue is not the healthiest way to raise an independent, self-sufficient man. It was just a thought. I pray every day not to be a "helicopter" parent, but I tell ya, it is not easy. This is the longest he will be away from us. Will he miss me? Will he get car sick on the bus up all those windy roads? Will he be scared at night? Will he fall in the river? Will he & his friends sneak out at night and get eaten by a bear? God, I can't even fathom how it will be when he goes away to college.

Kids Table or Grown-Up Table?
No doubt, he is going to have a great memorable time. I just know it. Will this trip change him? I know it's going to be an experience like none other. I'm sure all the parents at O'Dea are feeling like me. Is our fifth-grader a big kid? A young man or young woman? A child? I know that battle; I remember it.
You are not a teenager yet, you are not a child. Those pre-teen years are hard, to say the least. You try everything you can to act grown-up and in my case, it was dumb choices, just to "show" my parents I was the one in control. (Note to self: Give healthy control to my kids as they grow to avoid that.) Play with toys?  Or go to the movies with your friends?  I can already feel and witness his battle in his behavior. The battle between being older and being a child.  It's kind of like not old enough to sit at the grown-up table and not young enough to sit at the kids table. Where am I? Who am I? What am I?

Pre-Teen, Tween, Pre-Adolescent, What?
How do we treat our pre-teen? I think the word, pre-teen is not good to start with. It doesn't have a definition. It's before being a teen, but not a child. I hate the word, tween. We need a better word for ages 10-12. Any suggestions?

So how does a mom treat a 10-12 year old boy/girl/young man/young woman? I believe it starts with respect. No matter what age they are, it starts with respect. How to help them with the battle of who they are? Oh jeez, I am totally rambling right now.

Have to Focus on Packing
Okay, let's focus. Pack his stuff, buy new camping socks, sleeping bag, soap, toothpaste. Oh and get him a disposable camera so that he never forgets this amazing trip and experience he is about to have. I respect him to make good choices on this trip. I know he will. And if he doesn't he'll get eaten by a bear! That'll teach him! If that happen, he may just think twice before he sneaks out his bedroom window when he's 15 to go to a party. Talk about Pavlovian conditioning! Just kidding.
I can't say if he'll miss me or not. Hopefully he will be having too much fun. I know I will be counting the days, hours, and minutes until his return. I will be there with a smile and my arms open at 2pm on Friday.

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