July 2024 goals

9 July 2024

We’re back from a week in Michigan with our extended family (35 people in total!), and what a delight it was. Further thoughts coming in a recap post soon! Until then, here’s what we have on tap for July. I’m also prepping a midpoint-of-the-year goals post, so stay tuned for that next!

On my calendar:
— Celebrating Annie, John, and Shep’s birthdays! July is a celebratory month for our family!
— Sending June to sleepaway camp for two weeks! (Eep!)
— Hosting the second annual Cousin Camp for my niece and nephew!

What I’m loving right now:
This interview with married summer camp directors from the Raising Boys & Girls podcast was the encouragement I needed as we gear up to send our oldest to sleepaway camp for the first time. Both the practical tips and the big-picture reminders about why we’re doing this in the first place were welcome.
— The “Fresh Additions Fully Cooked Chicken Bites” from Costco have been a staple in John’s lunches since we discovered them a few months ago. The 2 oz packs come in a set of 8. I throw them in the freezer and he pulls them out one-by-one to add to his salads!
This essay! In addition to being a tender look into the heart of a mom of a grown-up daughter, allowing me to imagine the day I’ll be in those shoes, it also changed my approach to communication with my own mom right now. Grateful!

As a reminder, you can find allll the things I’ve loved over the last few years neatly organized right here!

What you’re loving right now:

This is where I highlight a few items here that have been popular in the last month with fellow readers, based on my analytics. Here’s hoping this will help you find something you’ll love!

Ocean BINGO, a game our 2-, 5-, and 8-year-old all love to play
— This slightly-dressed-up raspberry boatneck tank for hot days
— The brain dump journal from Cultivate, a delightfully flexible tool to organize all the things
— The Shibumi shade, an NC beach staple that’s SO easy to tote and set up
— The wooden card holder that makes games so much easier with little ones

Last month on The Connected Family:
Favorite board games to play with kids | There are two kinds of people in the world…
The boredom list | A screen-free list of 50+ activities kids can actually do on their own
On curating kids’ reading | Yes? No? How much, and in what way?
June’s favorite books, part 2 | 10 more series for kinder, first, second, or third graders

What I read in June:
How to Know a Person | While part of me wishes this book didn’t have to exist (shouldn’t we all just know how to engage with each other?!), I’m so glad it does. And actually, this book reminded me that while good “people skills” often seem effortless, they’re a learned skill — and one that we as a society used to spend more time teaching. I’m grateful for David Brooks stepping into the void, and have already added several of his insights to my relationship toolkit.
The Mystery Guest | Just as good as the first one!
Tom Lake | I really liked this book. (I thought it was even better than The Dutch House, which I also liked!) It was the perfect tagalong for our Michigan trip, since it’s set in the cherry fields of Traverse City, and the weaving of the two narratives was seamless. Plus, what a joy to read about a happy marriage! My only minor complaint is that I sometimes felt a bit off balance as a reader, like I was on the outside of an inside joke, asking myself whether I should already know something that didn’t feel clear. On the other hand, I think this masterfully brought to life the dynamic of a close-knit family, one that leans on years of accumulated memory and conversational shorthand. In that way, the author definitely succeeded :)

My reading list for 2024! I’m 9 / 24 so far.

Revisiting my June goals:
Complete at least 30 hours of deep work (Just 20 this month!)
Film June in June
Read chapters 12 and 13 of Outlive (12 completed)
Host our neighborhood’s kindergarten breakfast (Yes! It was the sweetest! Would a post about it be helpful?)
Host our church’s Father’s Day celebration
End the school year and begin summer well (Some of what we do here!)
Plan for Annie’s July birthday
Finish the 2015-2019 photo album (No movement here – on to July)
Buy a new laptop (Yes! Guys, it has a 20-hour charge!!)

July goals:
— Complete 40 hours of deep work
— Edit June in June
— Successfully send June to sleepaway camp
— Book our Acadia accommodations for next summer
— Write one module of the TCF course
— Read chapters 13 and 14 of Outlive
— Finish the 2015-2019 photo album

As a reminder, many of these are drawn from my 2024 goals!

Since it’s on my mind, let’s talk about sleepaway camp! Did you attend? For how long at a time, and how many years? Does it loom large in your psyche or is it just a small footnote? I’ll go first: while June and I are similar in so many ways, sleepaway camp seems to be a place where we diverge: she’s enthusiastic and mostly fearless, while I was notorious for signing up… then refusing to get on the bus to go. I did successfully complete two one-week stays in middle school, but that’s it!

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Sarah
July 9, 2024 8:14 am

I never went to sleep away camp as a camper (I did attend a traditional camp that was a day camp though, and LOVED IT), but I worked at a sleepaway camp as a counselor. Camp is such an amazing experience and one I feel very strongly about providing to my children. It gives them confidence like no other childhood experience really can, and emphasizes inclusion and friendship. It’s one of my top reasons why we’ve prioritized public vs private school (which may seem a little nuts… but it’s THAT important to me!). It’s so important to me that we are able to financially provide this experience and I want them to be able to opt in to a full month or even the full summer when they are older, if they so chose. My oldest is younger than June so we’re not there yet, but I look forward to hearing your experience!

Brooke
July 9, 2024 8:24 am

Love the updates, Emily! I went to sleepaway camp (on Lake Gaston!) for one week in middle school, and I remember being so homesick the first day or two…but I adapted quickly, and by the end, I didn’t want to leave and was sad when it was over! I have a lot of memories from that week and was jealous of acquaintances at school who went to sleepaway camp every summer. I hope June has a wonderful time! : )

Sara
July 9, 2024 8:54 am

I went to some form of a sleepaway camp/was a camp counselor for 9 years and 1 year respectively, and I loved it! It gave me confidence, instilled in me a love of nature, and taught me how to be adaptable. I was like you, where I would work myself into SUCH a tizzy the day we left, but then once I actually got to camp, it was the best! I also started when I was going into third grade, and from both a counselor and a camper perspective, I think it was the best time.
Also, the essay you linked had me tearing up this morning. This was one of the things I thought about most when my daughter was 0-2 months, that I will always love my daughter infinitely more than she loves me, and that’s okay, and the realization that I will never be able to love my mom as much as she loves me. It’s something I try to keep in mind when I feel “too busy” to return a phone call or hear a repeated story.

Carly
July 9, 2024 8:59 am

I did go to sleepaway camp! I was a Girl Scout, and I went for three separate years for 1-2 weeks at a time. I loved it, but it was *very* rustic (as in latrines…eek!). As a result of that experience, when I felt what it would be like to live in an unairconditioned dorm at college orientation, my exact words were, “I’ve already been a Girl Scout…I’m out.” HA! I blissfully commuted to college, lived in air conditioning at home, and saved $10K/year. I hope June has a blast! I totally understand not wanting to board that bus!
On another note, my parents and I went to Acadia last summer, and we LOVED it! We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which we wouldn’t typically do, but my mom’s best friend recommended it because of its location and beautiful views. She was right! The highlight was having popovers and tea at Jordan Pond House and hiking the Jordan Pond Path with my mom. I think you guys would love both too!

Michelle
July 9, 2024 9:00 am

Loved this post! As always, I appreciate your guilt free and realistic approach to your goals.

I attended camp from the summer after second grade through the summer before high school, and adored it. I went to the same camp each year and it was a big part of my childhood. I only ever went a week at a time, though! My husband had it similar experience. He actually did a camp for children with his particular chronic illness, and I think it was a place he could go and feel completely himself and completely accepted. He attended through high school and then worked there as a counselor in the summers until after he graduated college.

We are just dipping our toes into the camp experience as parents— our oldest attended day camp for the first time this summer—but it’s something we both value and want to prioritize as a family! Overnight camp feels daunting, so I’m eagerly anticipating all your tips and tricks.

Jewel
July 9, 2024 10:22 am

I never attended sleepaway camp, but did plenty of overnight trips as a Girl Scout (and now troop leader). And as another commenter said: Girl Scout camp is VERY rustic….. Why they insist on platform tents and latrines, I will never understand. Maybe if I’d gone to a camp with nicer sleeping/bathroom conditions then I might have jumped at the chance to do a longer sleepaway situation.

Julie
July 9, 2024 10:24 am

I’ve only ever been to church camp and usually my mom went as a counselor I think usually because of my childhood health challenges. Church camp was typically 5 days. I’ll be honest, my memories are pretty neutral regarding summer camp. I was not an outdoorsy or sporty kid, so camp was not really my style. Thankfully at church camp there was a balance between calm activities and crazy games/sports. However, I can see my daughter (who so far has a complete opposite personality to me) absolutely loving all of it when she’s old enough!

Emily
July 9, 2024 10:34 am

How exciting that June will have her first sleepaway camp experience! I hope that you will share how it goes for her. I can relate to your nerves about actually going after signing up. It’s a normal feeling! Looking back, I attended week long sleep away camps from ages 6-8/9. The camps were all either Methodist or Presbyterian, based in NC, and varied from coastal to the foothills. I loved these camps but would argue that the experience was a little on the rustic side. From ages 9-14, I attended a YMCA camp for two weeks located just over the NC/SC border and LOVED it. This camp offered such a wide variety of land and water activities. It fostered my love for making pottery, horseback riding, and swimming. The independence it offered while under the care and guidance of great counselors helped me maintain some sense of confidence during the tricky middle school years. It also helped me see my own place in the world outside of just my family. One of my laments is that I never served as a junior counselor or went on to fully staff. However, the memories are a treasure. My little one had heard his fair share of taps sung over the past few years before lights out at bedtime. :) Best wishes to June (and to you) as she goes off on this adventure!

Also, as an aside, thank you for sharing the essay about mother/daughter relationships. I have entered a new season with my Mom that has us both unmoored. This essay provided insight that my mother is not able to express. Thank you!

Anna
July 10, 2024 5:47 am

I went on summer camps as a child, in the UK these are usually only a week and are nowhere near the scale or excitement of camps I have read about in the USA! But I have to ask – how did your parents handle your camp refusal? I would assume your parents encouraged you generally to do things you had committed to – and how would you handle if June did the same? I don’t have kids and can’t yet fathom how I would handle a last minute ‘no thank you I’m not going’, ha!

Emma
July 10, 2024 12:59 pm

Beating the drum for a “How to organize a family reunion/vacation once everyone is married and has kids!” post! I am so daunted by trying to organize a group of 20-30 and want to know the secrets!

Kelly Strawberry
July 11, 2024 3:52 pm

Cam has his first sleep away camp week in August! I laugh in my head whenever I think about it because it’s literally 15 minutes away off Falls of Neuse road LOL! It feels like its the perfect balance of “letting go” but also knowing he is close by :) I anticipate this will be much harder for me than for him.

Sydni
July 14, 2024 6:07 pm

I grew up going to Camp Willow Run on Lake Gaston. Sleeping in boxcars was the most epic experience as a kid, and that’s where I really learned to love the Lord. My brother always went with a friend or cousin but I went in solo and had to make friends… i kinda hated that but it really taught me to branch out of my comfort zone.

Abby
July 17, 2024 8:36 pm

As always, I love reading your goals and monthly recaps! How exciting that your daughter is going away to her first overnight camp! I went to a Christian sleep-away camp one week each summer for at least 5 to 6 years spanning elementary and middle school. I always went with my older sister, though she was in a different bunkroom than myself. I had such an incredible experience and it was definitely very formative. Now I’m looking forward to sending my seven-year-old son away to a local Christian week-long day camp this summer!

Kelley
July 18, 2024 10:26 am

I attended sleepaway camp in the Texas Hill Country for 9 years as a camper for three weeks, then 6 (!!) years as a counselor (depending on the summer, 2, 3, or 5 weeks). Summer camp is definitely a core part of my childhood! And going to college and going through sorority rush at the University of Texas, having attended one of the “elite” summer camps in state made a big difference with already knowing people. That said, my summer camp experience was filled with comparison and cliques, as the average income level of campers is very high, and many people attend with friend groups from home. I feel passionately that my kids should go to sleepaway camp because of the independence it teaches and the interpersonal skills you develop sharing a cabin with 8-12 other kids for an extended period of time. But I’m not positive I will send them to the same camp I attended!