My first significant trip away from home, away from family, was a week at church youth camp some summer in the middle of my junior high years. I remember being very nervous before we left and very nervous for the first couple days when everything was new and awkward. But by the middle of the week, I was adjusting to new stuff, even the stuff I didn't like (public bathrooms with mass showers? Ew . . . ), and having a great time. But by my last night there, I was done, ready to be home again, which is a good point to get homesick if you're going to.
My youngest had her first big trip away from us last week: a week in Washington D.C. with her class at school. They stayed at a bed and breakfast outside of the metro area and took day trips to Mount Vernon, Gettysburg, and three times into the D.C. mall area. They saw the Capitol, the National Archives, the Supreme Court building, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian's U.S. History Museum, the Crime Museum, Arlington Cemetery, and several memorials around the area. And probably more that I'm not remembering now.
But the big difference? Cell phones. And social media.
When I was at camp that week, I had NO CONTACT with my parents. None. I sent them a letter while I was there, but I think I got home before the letter did. That was hard on me, but now I'm thinking about how hard that was on my parents. To have no idea what I was doing, how I was doing, if I was enjoying myself or miserable, if I was sick or injured . . . were they stressed out? I wish I could ask.
My daughter, however, had her cell phone with her. We were able to text her at almost any time during any day and find out exactly how she was doing. She and several others from the group posted photos to Facebook every day, so we knew exactly what she was doing and where she was going and what she was seeing and how much fun she was having. Her dad was even able to send her a short video of her dog when she started missing him.
And I'm wondering, is that better than a week with no contact? I'm sure it was easier for her (and us), but was it better? Did I get something out of that week of complete separation in junior high that was good for me (and maybe my parents) and that would have been good for her (and us) to experience? Might we all have learned to worry less and trust more if we had been forced to let go of each other more completely for that week?
Maybe. But right now, I'm just grateful as all get-out for cell phones.