First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript
Boxford Topsfield Middleton —
The Baird Facts
By Esther C. Baird
Regular Readers may recall that last summer we allowed our then eight-year-old daughter to attend her first overnight camp. It was only four nights, and it was run by our church. Further, one of my friends was the director and she sent me reassuring text messages and photos throughout the week – mostly of my daughter eating candy – but a candy-eating child is a happy child.
So this year, we allowed her to attend a full week of camp on Lake Winnipesaukee. This camp had hundreds of kids of all ages, acres of land, bonfires, islands, horses, motor boats, hiking, a mess hall, a camp store and . . . no good friend on staff who’d send me updates.
But I was cool with that. My daughter was ready, I was ready.
So we drove her up, made her bed, helped her organize her clothes and books and pre-addressed, pre-stamped letters, and then we took a tour. The lake waters were pristine and the views were incredible.
We knew a few other campers and, as we meandered around, my one friend whose son was back for a second year said, “See that boat house?”
She pointed to a building at one end of the beach. “That’s where the webcam streams from. You can catch glimpses of your kids when they swim.”
I smiled politely. “You mean when you stare at your computer watching your son paddle around when you should be relaxing in your parental freedom??”
(She had previously admitted to such shenanigans when her son had camped before.)
She smiled back at me, unapologetic. “Yep.”
Whatever. I had been sending my girls to grandparents and babysitters and day camps since they’d been born. I’d miss them, and I might even fret a bit, but a webcam? I’d be surprised if I remembered to glance at it, let alone figure out when our daughter was actually swimming.
She swam at 3 p.m.
I know this because, that first day back in Boxford, I managed to watch some other girl who was not my daughter swim for about 20 minutes only to finally see my own daughter and friends appear.
I texted my fellow camp-moms. “They’re on the cam!” It was like the Olympics and our children were competing . . . as kids at camp.
I grabbed my iPhone and took pictures of my laptop screen that was streaming our children and began sending the blurry photos to grandparents and my husband. “They’re swimming!”
My mother texted me back, “I can see her! Is her bathing suit new?”
My one friend grabbed a screen shot of our girls and labeled it with their names and put it up on Facebook, while my other friend replied frantically, “I’m at work!! I’m at work!! I can’t see them.”
I texted back, “Get the app!! Watch them on your iPhone!”
It was as if they’d invented cold fusion. The whole world hung in the balance while our nine-year-old daughters did what nine-year-old girls do on any given day, at any given camp, during any given summer. They swam.
Later that week we saw lights from the fireworks display and flicker of the evening bonfire. One afternoon I watched a riveting game of duck, duck, goose. Really, you should have seen how fast this one girl ran when she was the goose . . .
Ok, I get it, Modern Mommying . . . eye roll. But I loved the peeks I got of my daughter, still alive, still healthy, and clearly happy. I loved it so much that, on the pick up day, I marched down to the beach with my daughter and we watched ourselves, on my iPhone, appear in the beach cam, then I took a picture waving at . . . myself.
I guess some of you might accuse me of not relaxing, of being quasi obsessive. Let me know when your kid goes to camp with a webcam.
Until then, I’ll just smile and reply, “Yep.”