Springhouse meadow in Timber Canyon
We slept all night, not a cow in sight. Yessss! Shouts of “Good morning!” came at 5:00 a.m. Nooooo! The students were told to pack their gear “Santa Claus style”—like a gathered sack—and take it to the truck quickly. Parents’ bedding gear was bundled and tossed in the other truck. We were all gathered into a circle in the meadow and had a farewell ceremony in which each of us was given a turn to tell what Family Camp had meant. Like the other parents, Abe and I were near tears as we tried to put voice to the hope we had been given in the transformation of our son. Ben had grown so much that it would take time to adjust to this quietly confident young man. This circle was a difficult moment, as you might guess, because all of us knew that our time together was coming to a close.
Timber Canyon flowers
Although the parents had been warned, we didn’t realize how soon that would be. The moment the circle broke, the field supervisor told the students to give the parents hugs and head to the trucks. As the sun was beginning to rise over the hills, we were saying goodbye with smiles and tears. The parents stood in the field, watching the kids being hustled away. We were silent and at a loss at what to do now. There was so much to process, so many questions to which we would not have answers for a long time.
Springhouse trees in Timber Canyon
The parents were taken to base, where our clothing and luggage awaited us. A breakfast of bagels, English muffins, and juice was offered. (They used to serve eggs, bacon, etc., until they realized that it upset most people’s systems after having such a low-fat high-fiber diet for so long. They recommended we take it easy assimilating back into our regular diets.)
Commissary and showers
The glory of taking a shower took away the pangs of farewell for a moment. Parents took turns in the locker rooms and gathered in our “city” clothes for the last meeting. We bagged our clothing and gear into giant white potato sacks. Instructors told us the airport was quite used to seeing these in their luggage bins.
The parents were sorted into trucks according to their destinations: airport, hotel, etc. Tight hugs all around were accompanied by heartfelt whispers of encouragement and hope. We were on the next step of this journey where each family had its own path, but none of us was alone. All of us were grateful for the shared support.
Abe and I spent the afternoon of quiet downtime in our hotel room. We had dinner in downtown Boise, talking about the week and Ben. We didn’t talk yet about the future, which was coming soon enough. We stayed “in the moment,” as we had learned to do at Family Camp.
In the time we had remaining in Idaho, Abe and I shared long moments of silence, broken by expressions of thoughts that were racing through our heads. We didn’t have to preface our thoughts since we were both on the same wavelength. (It didn’t occur to me until later how much more that is happening, now that we are intentionally talking over things every day. In a relationship as long as ours, it gets too easy to let that go by. Inertia breeds silence unless you break it with intention.)
Boise town square
We began to process the experience, comparing our hopes and expectations with the reality. We were afraid to hope too much; it seemed so vastly different than the life we were living only a few weeks earlier. But there it was: Ben was changed. Would it last? Would it be enough? He would have to resist so many old patterns that would be pulling at him at home. Abe and I would have to wait and pray that this was the beginning of a happier and more successful life for Ben.
What changes would we see by the time he graduated from camp? It would be two short weeks until we knew.