Deja vu all over again

Published 9:38 am Saturday, June 15, 2013

A couple of years ago, due to poor planning a little foresight on my part, I made the boneheaded decision to schedule our family vacation to the Outer Banks for the last week in July. Not that there’s anything wrong with the beach at the end of July — or any other week in the summer for that matter. But two years ago, because of the way the calendar fell, the day we were kicked out of our rental and forced to make the trek home landed on Sunday, July 30.

My 40th birthday.

There are two things in life that few people look forward to. One is turning 40. The other is heading west on the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge when your beach week is over.. Yet I wound up doing both on the same day, and I swore I wouldn’t make a similarly stupid decision ever again.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

Fast forward to this year, when my wife and I decided that our eight year-old son was grown enough to go away to summer camp. It wasn’t the easiest decision I ever made, and I could tell she wasn’t completely thrilled, either. But we did a little research, found a great camp that came highly recommended by several of our friends, and asked Whitman if he wanted to go.

That was three months ago, and I think he started packing that night.

The thing with camp is that you not only have to tell them the week you’d like your child to attend, but also provide a couple others as backup in case your preferred week is already full. So we filled out the enrollment forms, listed the two or three weeks that would work around baseball and vacation Bible school, and sent off the paperwork and deposit.

A week or so later, a packet arrived in the mail notifying us that they had reserved a spot for our son and were looking forward to his arrival. They sent us a list of activities he’d be able to enjoy and all the things he’d need to pack. I could see the excitement in his eyes as he ran through the list of cool stuff he’d get to do; archery, swimming, campfires, and all the other things I have such terrific memories of from my own days of going away to summer camp as a child.

It was right about then that Mary and I noticed the date we’d be dropping him off at camp.

Sunday, June 16.

This year, rather than coming home from a week at the beach on my birthday, I will be dropping off my child for his first ever week at camp on Father’s Day. And I’m certain, regardless of what his sister would likely tell you, this trek home will be much harder.

So if you see us in church on Sunday morning, and our son and daughter both have a huge smile on their faces and I have a tear or two running down mine, don’t bother asking why. I’ll be too busy thanking God for my beautiful children this Father’s Day and praying for next Friday to get here as fast as it can.

TONY CLARK is the associate publisher of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at