Arriving at University Congregational UCC in October of 2009, I experienced months of talk about this mythical place called Seabeck — a place where everyone was always happy, always had a great time, and everyone, who was anyone, went every year.
I must admit, I was immediately suspicious of the idyllic descriptions of community, talent shows, salmon bakes, playing in the water, gorgeous sunsets, paddle boat rides, and spiritual and educational enrichment for all ages.
My suspicions were that not everyone had a good time at Seabeck, and that maybe I would find the whole experience stressful, particularly if I had to parent a toddler for a week away from home and routine. And, I found plenty of folks who backed up these suspicions with other stories of Seabeck: feeling stuck with a sick kid away from the comforts of home, or of having to cope with overly-tired toddlers at the end of a week of primarily outdoor play.
Armed with these myths and suspicions, I went to Seabeck last summer on faith. Faith that despite the high and low expectations, whatever happened, we would live through it and probably have a good time despite my fears.
It was awesome!
Here are the things no one told me about that made my experience delightful:
- Jeff Coleman stayed flexible and understanding in trying to find me just the right cabin where Benjamin would be most likely to sleep through the night and nap during the day.
- There are sinks in every room. If you don’t know why this is awesome, you haven’t lived away from home with a toddler.
- The prepared meals are served “family style” with food brought to the table not a buffet. Again, you won’t realize how awesome this is unless you’re a parent trying to get an overly tired child through a buffet line.
- Staff clears the tables for everyone…so you, as a parent, don’t have to feel guilty about leaving suddenly when your child signals their distinct lack of interest in finishing their meal and being social by pelting someone with a roll. Sorry, Jenny.
- There is cell phone coverage across the campgrounds.
- There are people who go to bed early and are willing to just call you if your child wakes up…freeing you from the 12 hour sleep schedule your toddler may require. Thanks, Mary Ellen and Nancy.
- It’s really okay to skip the afternoon or evening activities, so your child can nap and/or go to bed early. They sounded like a lot of fun. We look forward to doing them someday. In the meantime, the flexibility to give your child a four-hour nap each day was really, really helpful. Everyone was very understanding about our need to take these sacred naps, and go to bed at 7pm.
- There really is a childcare program for even the youngest children, so that all parents can participate in the morning educational program.
- Lots of folks stayed up later than Mary Ellen and Nancy, so I did have folks to socialize with after 9:30pm…which is more than I usually get at home, as a single parent, so yay.
- There is a commitment to meet all financial needs, so that anyone who wants to go can go.