TAPinto Livingston is doing more than just rebranding and launching a new website (soon)—TAPinto Livingston is also introducing new sections of the site. To start off, we are adding a new column by local blogger Amy Selling called, “Lulu and Lattes.” Selling’s blog entries have been called refreshing, fun and current. She blogs on everything from restaurants she likes and great deals she finds—to her own funny observances and experiences, often as they relate to camp.

Last year, her June 8 entry called, “The Running of the Jews—Camp Visiting Day” went viral and brought her into the limelight. Anyone who went to sleep-away camp as a child, or whose children go there now will probably relate to this piece. Click HERE to read it.

So, with many local children going to sleep-away camp over the weekend, it is fitting to have the following piece be the first entry into her new column on Tapinto Livingston.

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The Departure of the Camp Bus

This past week has been total lunacy. Between having the kids home, last minute shopping for camp, haircuts, ortho appointments and dentist appointments, it has been crazy and chaotic. And, it didn't help that I got a brand new puppy last week that I want to kill at night. But I won't delve into that and complain because I have thrown enough pity parties for myself and you may all unsubscribe if I rant anymore.

Friday night was the toughest for me. Some people have a hard time saying goodbye at the bus, but for me it always seems to be the night before he goes that is the hardest. It usually hits me after dinner, and I can finally pull myself together by the time I go to bed.

This morning we stopped at Livingston Bagel to pick up breakfast and some kind of lunch for Zach on the bus. By 'some kind,' I mean a bagel with cream cheese. Not a fancy sandwich from an upscale deli that would be soggy by lunch or tuna that would make the entire bus smell for seven hours.

Zach asked me to PLEASE not cut his hair too short. I told him it would grow back in a week but he fought and fought. I thought about it and figured he would have to deal with playing sports with all of his hair—not me. So be it.

Speaking of hair...this year, camp pride has taken over the hair and nail salons! Taconic, Manitou and Wah-Nee were well represented (I am glad Zach didn't ask for this haircut because I would have had to call the camp to deal with the sunburn issues on his scalp. He forgot to take a hat—or I really forgot to pack one...) (See photo in photo gallery).

The nail situation was also CRAZY this year...maybe this goes on every year but being that I do not have girls, I have never really paid attention much to how the tween girls prepare before camp starts. The nail art is amazing! From camp name, to camp colors, to camp bunk—I couldn't get over it. I heard the Livingston nail salons were swamped this past week with kids but I didn't realize this was going on. I have to say—love it! Is nail painting an activity in the bunk? I wonder if they can have a redo mid- summer? What happens when it chips off? Can you send up nail polish or that is as taboo as electronics? I am telling you, I have no idea!

Look how cute! (See the pictures in the photo gallery) I had so many pics sent to me that I couldn't fit them all, but I did try to represent most of the camps that were submitted. Trails End, Blue Ridge (couldn't believe the outpouring of pics for this camp), Tyler Hill, Camp Wayne, Mataponi, B'nai B'rith Beber, Starlight, Canadensis, Chen-A-Wanda and Nock A Mixon, etc.

Although this is my second time around, I still had no idea what to send up on the seven-hour bus ride. I thought it would be easy to send candy but my son didn't want any. Not kidding—no idea why. So, I sent him music and The Mysterious Benedict Society. I can guarantee he doesn't read one page of it all summer. I will be FLOORED if he does.

I am jealous of the people who literally roll out of bed and bring their kids to the Livingston Mall, which is about one minute from my house, to the bus drop off. I have to drive over an hour at the crack of dawn, which is fine all-in-all—but this is my issue. We drive the hour, which consists of me thinking about him leaving for the summer during the whole ride. We get there. There is madness everywhere.

Every parent has to talk to the bus counselor about some issue, some medicine, some whatever that needs to be handled on or after they arrive at camp. Fine. The kids run on the bus to find and save their bus seats. After five minutes of standing around waiting for Zach to get back off the bus to say goodbye, I am praying that he will have the decency to get off and hug and kiss me. Finally it happens.

Zach gets off the bus for the final goodbyes snapshots and hugs. I am definitely more emotional than I was last year. I am still trying to figure out why, but I try and hide it and tell him I am not asking for anything but a few letters.

Okay, now Zach is on the bus. Each parent stands on the side of the bus that their kid is sitting on—waving. We are waving for 20 minutes and it is absolute torture. In my head I am thinking the kids should be allowed on the bus 10 minutes MAX before they depart. Not 20. I cannot tell you how gut wrenching it is standing there waiting and waiting for the bus to leave. Like just get on and go. Do not make the parents wait. It is so agonizing. I soon realize that the reason we are waiting so long is because the bus is waiting for a child.

Time out. We got a letter from camp that says PLEASE be at the buses no later than 8:30 a.m. Buses will depart at 9:00 a.m. sharp. It was 9:08 a.m. How is it that EVERY SINGLE FAMILY got there on time except ONE family? Definitely not traffic. Ten months to prepare for camp and you are 30 minutes late to the bus? Now I am going to be honest. This is my second year sending Zach and this is the second year in a row this has happened. People get your shit together! You are torturing all of us because you had to stop at Dunkin to get coffee. It is only 9 a.m.—go after!

At 9:10 a.m., the missing child comes roaring in, runs on the bus and FINALLY they depart. 

All of the parents are left standing in the parking lot. This is my favorite part. I hear the chatter. Where are you staying for visiting day? Did you make dinner reservations? Where are you eating? Are you renting a car? Flying? Driving? What are you going to do this summer? Trips planned? Hamptons? Europe? Colorado? Outer Banks?

I should tell you. Yes, I made a hotel reservation last year. I learned to do that before I even signed Zach up for camp. But beyond that—I got nothing. No dinner reservations, no day plans except seeing Zach on Saturday. My hope is to grab a lobster roll, a few beers and find a beach. The idea of making plans for visiting day stresses me out. I still don't know a lot of parents at Cedar because we are the "newbies" and I am not sure what the regulars do. Rumors are that they rent boats, have clam bakes and spend their time on the lake. That’s pretty much what I love about Maine.

We are not going to Europe. We still have kid #2 home. I am sending Parker, kid #2, to day camp. I am going back to school for a month. I am also hopefully going to improve my tennis game—although after seven years, it hasn't changed one bit. I am going to lose these last five lbs.—if it means I skip every BBQ in town. I am going to Margate. I am sending the puppy to a two-week boot camp so I can survive. And, I am going to start this book project I have put off for six months! I think the agent I have been in touch with has divorced me.

The ride back was quiet. Parker was silent. Greg was silent. I turned on Zach's Camp playlist I made for him this summer, and went into my own funk for the long hour drive back to Livingston. I scrolled through Facebook and was in awe with my newsfeed. My entire newsfeed from top to bottom was filled with camp bus pictures. Holy Hell. I wonder if my non-Jewish friends who do not send their kids to camp have Newsfeeds like this? I wonder if they think we are all a bunch of lunatics who send our kids away for seven weeks. They must, right?

The silence in Livingston is eerie. It is such a weird feeling to drive through town and find nobody on the road, when only a week ago it was complete and utter craziness.

Check back here soon for another “Lulu and Lattes” column.