Day 29: Camp Dryuary

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– A. A. Milne

When my daughter was 9 years old, she decided she would go to a sleep-away camp for a week with a friend and her two cousins. This was pretty amazing to me because a) she had never, not once in her life, spent the night away from home unless it was at grandma’s house, and b) this was a fairly remote camp that you had to hike 3 miles to get to, no easy drop off and pick up.

I counseled her numerous times that if she committed to this camp, she was going to go, no matter what. I honestly didn’t care one way or the other if she went, but I was very clear with her that if she committed, there were three other people and their families all making their decisions based on her commitment, so there was no backing out. I told her many, many times that if she made the decision to go and then changed her mind, she was still going to that camp come hell or high water. “Oh no, Mom, I won’t back out. This is my decision.”

Of course, the night before she was supposed to leave she came to my bedroom in tears, saying she didn’t want to go. I reminded her of our numerous conversations and that her commitment was to other people. She cried and begged. I told her I was going to drive her to the camp bus, and if she didn’t get out of the car and get on the bus that I would carry her on the bus myself like a sack of rice.

Of course, this was not easy for me. It was really, really hard, but I knew this was one of those life lessons. Indeed, she had made her commitment to her friend and cousins, and I had made mine to her. On Sunday morning she quietly got on the bus after a kiss goodbye and they were off.

On Thursday morning I received a call from the camp that my daughter was so homesick that she was throwing up and could barely participate in any of the activities. She was even sleeping in the first aid room instead of her cabin with her friend. They asked if I wanted to come and pick her up early. I don’t know how I kept my cool, but I did. I asked if she was in any danger. They said no, so I said I would like it if she could complete the camp. They were totally fine with that and gave me kudos.

When we went to pick her up, she hiked out with the rest of the campers, gave me a hug, stowed her gear in the trunk and fell asleep in the car. We didn’t talk about camp for several days. I waited for her to bring it up. When we finally talked, I realized that she had been very sick, throwing up 24/7 with a brief interlude when they gave her some “very strong medicine” to help with nausea. (It was actually a TicTac.)

I told her I was so proud of her for sticking it out, for completing what she started, for living up to her commitment. She wailed at me, “But I DIDN’T do it! I failed!” “Au contraire my little one,” I explained, “You DID do it.” She cried that she didn’t sleep in her cabin, threw up 10 times a day, and cried the whole time. “But you DID it. You didn’t leave. It wasn’t pretty, it was hard, you were miserable, you were mad at me for not coming to get you, but you DID it. You didn’t leave. You stayed. You did it.”


That life lesson is one that has stayed with my daughter every single day of her life. She knows what a promise means, she knows she is stronger than she thinks, she knows that she can get through pretty much anything. She is one awesome dude.

So. You made a commitment to yourself, maybe to a friend or relative, but mostly to yourself. How have you been doing at Camp Dryuary?

You been crying? Is your canoe leaking? Did you miss the glass of wine on the scavenger hunt? Did you just snap, and then snap your friendship bracelet? Did you get lost on the nature hike? Did your marshmallow fall in the fire?

If so, and yet you are still here reading this, then you did it. Yes, I know my analogy isn’t perfect. But in my opinion, making the commitment to yourself to attend Camp Dryuary means a commitment to do your level best. If you committed and you are still here, still standing, then you did it. It might not have been pretty, you might have had some horrible, bad, no good sleepless nights, you might have been just the teeniest bit snippy with your loved ones, but you’re here. You might have slipped and had a couple of glasses of wine just that once (or twice), and you could have just chucked it and bailed, but you didn’t. You got up, dusted off the seat of your pants, and got back in the game.

You DID it.

That should mean something to you. I hope you’ll carry the lessons you’ve learned close to your heart for they are yours to keep and to cherish.

And I can’t wait to see you again next year at Camp Dryuary!

Post Submitted By: HorseLover, MM Member

8 thoughts on “Day 29: Camp Dryuary

  1. Horse Lover

    I guess we all are shaped by our upbringing and our memories of that time. We either embrace or reject, but still they shape us. Becoming aware of those memories and observing how we are shaped by them is a huge part of our maturation and our learning how to cope without resorting to alcohol. Good work.

  2. Raul

    Thanks for the post. I haven’t had one sip since day one, I actually started four days early. I’m going to continue into February. Is there something we can do for February?

    1. Kary May Hickey Post author

      Raul, there is always a monthly abs thread over at the MM Forum for people who are attempting 30 days of abstinence, not just in January. If you are registered at the forum, you are welcome to join in. I know there’s already several people who are joining the Febre-entry roster to give and get support for those who want to take their re-entry into moderation slow and steady. There is also talk of a thread for Dryuarians who want to continue. Here’s what’s being discussed.

      “At the beginning of January a few people who were doing Dryuary expressed an interest in following it up with a Oneuary-style month and having a similar thread to support that effort. Since then there have been a few more general discussions around the subject of re-entry plans after either Dryuary or Oneuary so it seems reasonable that we should widen the scope. We’re hoping to get together a group of folks to support each other as they transition from those efforts to their own medium- and long-term plans, whatever they may be, so I’m therefore extending an invitation to anyone looking to re-enter moderation to join this thread and share their plans. Prior participation in Dryuary or Oneuary is not a prerequisite though and we’d be delighted to be joined by anyone who’s looking for support in implementing their own moderation plan. For those who are looking to abstain, or continue to abstain, through February there has also been talk of a separate Dry February roster where the topics of discussion are likely to be more helpful to that goal but anyone is of course welcome to sign up or just post here if they don’t mind me regaling them with tales of how much I enjoyed my pint of Guinness, etc.”

  3. Rabbit

    I love the idea that although my Dryuary wasn’t quite perfect, it was still worthwhile and important and there were plenty of lessons learned. Still learning and growing….

    Thanks Horselover!

    1. Horse Lover

      I’m with you, Rabbit! I had a planned exception for Jan 26 and it was lovely. But, I’m back at it, and will finish the month. It’s what we learn and what we take with us that counts. Good for you!

  4. Rauzo

    Thank you HorseLover, we did do it. This time around at least for me sobriety has been more of a warm welcome and may continue into February. I’m not completely done at camp!

    1. Horse Lover

      My Dryuary has been really good this time as well. The times that it was easy, I gratefully accepted. The times that were hard, I gratefully gained new strength. Thanks for being here.

  5. Jerry Porter

    I clearly recall as a child wanting to go with my mother for some errand rather than stay home with my father. She did not want me to come with her. She told me that IF I went with her I could not attend the circus in a few days. I WENT WITH HER AND WAS ALLOWED TO GO TO THE CIRCUS. Honestly, that indelible lesson still affects me today. By now though, NOT my parent’s fault but an example of how life long expectations get planted deep.
    Thanks again HorseLover for your timely relatable message.

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