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My little girl is going away to summer camp for the first time

Danielle Smith is a former award-winning television news anchor and reporter turned digital correspondent, host, spokesperson, media trainer, lover of all things video and public s

How I’m mentally preparing for my little girl to leave me for summer camp for the first time

I took a deep breath. I could smell the freshness of her shampoo as she snuggled in close... we were grabbing blankets and settling in to watch Gilmore Girls. This is the latest in our series of mother-daughter experiences.

She gets plenty of father-daughter time on the field and on the court, but I'm relegated to the sidelines (as I should be), and while I'm a stellar fan and I DO love to watch her play - those hours as a spectator don't allow us to connect as we do when we sit shoulder to shoulder....sometimes talking, sometimes silent.

How I’m mentally preparing for my little girl to leave me for summer camp for the first time

She is growing up.

This is the face that stares back at me every single day.

How I’m mentally preparing for my little girl to leave me for summer camp for the first time

And while she is often contorting it to make me or someone else laugh...

How I’m mentally preparing for my little girl to leave me for summer camp for the first time

I'm often baffled that this little girl is no longer under foot, at my knee or begging me to make her a circle-shaped peanut butter sandwich, turn on Dora the Explorer, read her a story or simply asking for a hug.

How I’m mentally preparing for my little girl to leave me for summer camp for the first time

She will still tell me she loves me, occasionally takes my hand and (thank goodness!) still talks to me about her day, but I can see her growing, her legs stretching, her feet nearing the time when they can share my shoes, her face taking the shape of the woman she will someday be and her heart beginning to understand the ways of the world.

Each month, each week, each day brings a new milestone and there is one looming in my peripheral vision....my girl is going to a Sleepaway Camp for the first time ever. Sure, she has spent the night at a friend's house. Yes, I have traveled out of town and been without the ability to tuck her in for days at a time.

But this is different.

This is her venturing out on her own.

For an entire week.

For the first time.

And she is giddy.

I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified.

She is brave. (I'm in awe!) She is excited for the adventure. (I'm excited too.) She isn't even a little bit nervous. (How is possible that my little girl has matured so much in the past year?)

She will be swimming and hiking, horseback riding and zipling, boating and sitting around a campfire. And she will be laughing and making new friends and creating priceless memories.

I, on the otherhand, will be sleeping with my cell phone....and my purple hippo, Lavender - a gift from my small girl for when I travel - so that I always have a little piece of her with me.

And when she comes home, we'll start all over... I'll pull her close, breathe her in and know she is just a little older, a little wiser and a little stronger for having experienced her time away. I'll be excited to listen and learn from the girl who is one of the greatest teachers of my life.

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