Natalia took this picture of Katya on our way to drop her off at camp last weekend. You can certainly tell how excited she was to go!
So... Katya is at at sleep-away camp for the first time! The school trip to Greece doesn't really count since she was with all of her teachers and classmates, and we could call her every day. This time she she didn't know a soul and was going to be truly on her own until we pick up her up two weeks later. We can send letters, cards, packages, etc., but we have yet to hear from her...
I hope it's going OK... I'm sure she's bumping into some reverse culture shock in ways that she hasn't before. She's used to being around people who know she's an expat. The kids in her cabin have probably never even heard that word before. Add to this that one of this camp's strengths is its economic diversity, with a robust scholarship program for underprivileged kids, and you end up with a very good experience for Katya.
Case in point? As an icebreaker, the counselor asked the kids what they had been doing since school got out. Katya simply told the truth: "I spent three weeks in Greece at my school's лагер (lager/camp)." The other girls definitely looked at her a little odd... What kid from around here spends three weeks in Greece? And they certainly didn't know what the word "lager" meant! Katya isn't used to people not understanding some Russian terminology thrown in here and there. I bet the other kids also didn't understand why she was so tired, really in the throws of jet lag—since she had arrived in the USA less than 48 hours earlier.
Even Liesel went to camp with us... She LOVED it, and she was a pretty big hit with all the kids, too.
Natalia liked it there a lot, not wanting to leave right away. She sat with Katya's group for a while while they waited to take their swimming tests. She definitely was not ready to go away this summer, but I think she might want to join Katya next year... (Oh! I can hear the angels warming up their harp music for a possible "Ahhhh!" chorus at the mere prospect of my having a two week break to just RELAX next summer...!!!)
The other girls in Katya's cabin, and her counselors, were very nice. Katya was ready for us to leave way before we were...
My mom really loved being at camp for the first time since she was a camper and Unit Leader there... She was actually in charge of the group that Katya is now in! The girls got a real kick out of seeing pictures of their grandma in front of the lodge steps and by the waterfront!
Liesel was ready to hop into the car by the time we left...
And she then promptly fell FAST asleep, getting her nose wedged in between the seats!!!
She woke up long enough to play with our friend's dachshund, K-9, when we stopped to visit them on our way home! They're basically identical, except that Liesel is a bit bigger. Liesel has on the collar and leash in the picture.
UPDATE: Here's a picture of Katya and her group that was posted on the camp's parents' network... They have a neat website for families; they post pictures of what's going on each day and you can write you child electronic letters that they print out and distribute along with regular mail in the afternoon. She seems to be having fun!