Returning to civilization from a week at family camp is a delicate operation. I find myself out of sorts, wondering why I can’t finish 3 books a week, sit by the pool, and let the college kids entertain my children and feed us all.

Does it reflect well or poorly on me that the children were totally independent, free, and feral all week, barely acknowledging us except to beg for money for use at the infernal store?

The kids have had it worse. Jaden would really like to be in charge of a fort in the forest all summer, stacking logs over the rocks and standing guard. Of course, there should be Cocoa Puff cereal, chocolate milk, and hot dogs at a nearby dining tent. And a pool. But other than that he’s good in nature, and was really just a loincloth short of going full Mowgli.

So I guess I can see why after all that freedom, Cub Scout camp felt like an authoritarian nightmare. Even with archery and shooting real BB guns(!), he came home from the first day vowing he would never go back. I made him try one more, but the next night I gave in. The kind volunteer moms who run the camp couldn’t believe it. “We’ve done this for six years and have never had a kid quit,” they told me. But I guess I should just be grateful that my kid will wear pants and shoes. He’s transitioning back slowly.

Shayla, on the other hand, had a huge weepy meltdown when we got home, a good night’s sleep, and was ready to move on. This week she’s at sports camp, 6 different activities a day, boom-boom-boom. She’s doing hip-hop dance and basketball and swimming and art and volleyball and… oh something else. So many sports would have capital K Killed me as a boy. Slayed me! But she likes to know there’s a next thing, and a next, and a next. (“But what are we doing next weekend?” she’ll ask on a Monday night when she’s sure she’s got the schedule for the week in her head.) I guess I’m a bit like that too.

We also had my teenage godson Myles, here for a visit from the East Coast. At 16, he’s pretty independent too, but it’s great to see him with his peers, some of whom he met when he was 7 years old, and was camping with for the 9th summer. As my father-in-law would say, “unbelievable.” It really is.

Jay and I are reaping the benefits of a week offline. I read three books! I did yoga in the trees (under a canopy, with some great teachers, not by myself). I enjoyed cocktails with the camp neighbors. And I watched my kids go right to the edge of civilization, and then come back.