I signed up Mia for a first sleepaway camp so I can manage work/vacation while in CZ. The January idea was 10 days, she will be one of many English speaking kids, camp is dual language so has Czech and English native counselors. Lots of trips in southern Bohemia, castles, group sports. She was excited and telling everyone she is going to a camp in Europe. I was too.
Reality check – hello corona, come and screw it all up.
Well, let’s make one thing clear – at least it was happening which is more than the US camps can say. One prologue – on Day 2 in Prague Mia had a bit of a homesick meltdown, missing daddy, “can’t make it here for a month”, I don’t understand most people, where are my brothers (this was one particularly perplexing as they fought like dogs lately given the sequestered environment!), “I am going to go to bed early and get up late so days are shorter and we go back to America”. Awesome, we flew to Europe to sleep. There was some reality in her fear as the news over US blow up of corona faces, us getting tested twice was just too much. She was worried the boys/dad will get sick and we just left them there. This all went away by Day 5 – to Brian’s dismay that she didn’t need to call him at all (some of my own doing to keep her away from phone on purpose – go mommy!) and to her getting entertained a bit more with other kids. Anyway, back to the camp – her big concern on Day 2 was how is she not going to be sick w/o me when she is so sad just w/o daddy – my thought exactly but put on a brave face “ha, there will be other English speaking kids, so much to do”. No problem, off to go.
Departure day (Day 12 of our visit) – she is fine, packed most of her own stuff in suitcase, we are driving to the Prague bus station (she has to take a 90 mins bus with the kids to the camp). We line up in queue and there is not a single word of English anywhere – all Czech or Russian. Hmm – “mom, where are all the English kids”. Good question. Holy s…t, where are they? Turns out, many of them either couldn’t come thru the corona border barriers or opted not to.
With all my “in the long term this is a good experience” thinking in mind, I put her on the bus and said “they are all probably driving, which was an option too” – Dad and I sighed as we were leaving with a bit of a worried look. I gave her a thumbs up as the bus passed and got thumbs down back thru the window – ouch, this may be tougher than I anticipated. She was off.
End of Day 1 – we are browsing thru Facebook pictures daily. Things look a bit grim on arrival – seems like lots of the kids signed up with friends or classmates. She is typically alone with not so happy face. I am worried. (see blue jacket)
Day 2-6 pictures are much happier, she is engaged, doing things, in new clothes. all good, lots of laughs, activities, pictures with roommates and other girls.
Day 7 is interesting. Mum and I are getting ready for Saturday evening Thai massage after having a girls only weekend in Prague, shopping, eating, girly stuff. A phone call on my Czech phone – “hi, this is Veronika, the main leader at the camp, has Mia had appendix taken out?” “No, why?” While I am getting the idea why, I can’t believe that the midget would keep appendix surgery for right now when noone in our family had it taken out – ever! I am picturing us driving 1.5 hour away to keep her company in small town Czech hospital, waiting for emergency surgery (we are good in that:-) While we are packing, hey drove her to the local hospital to surgery ER, she was seen in 30 mins, assessed and sent back to the camp. When I called asking if she wants to go home instead, she insisted she stays as there is fire night and disco. Alright then, we got our priorities straight. My very short-lived fear of how are we going to pay for this as – a) we are not insured in CZ (universal) 2) this was ER 3) this was a surgeon 4) this will be all cash – was why I love Europe and universal healthcare. Invoice for 800CZK or $40 is not worth reimbursing to Aetna who I am sure would tell me it wasn’t necessary. Oh, and she had to go back next morning for reassessment, only $30. OK then, well this was a fun Saturday evening.
Day 10 arrival – the camp was a success – she actually brought home all her clothes. She learned some Czech words, songs, loves soups now, apparently was very popular as she was “the only” native English speaking kid and in any competition they pushed her to speak on behalf of their team.
And there you have it – we both survived, with appendices untouched and new experiences for both of us. I was told that I shouldn’t be thinking this is now a rule – she is not going to go to French or Spanish camp now just because my experiment worked – noted, at least not next year.