It’s always exciting when new people arrive at camp, but there’s something particularly exciting when that person is a newborn baby. Peter and Jodi Gove welcomed their son, Jonah Paxton, in late June and he’s already become a regular face around camp and a part of the fabric of the camp community. Here’s their perspective on raising him at camp.
Though Peter’s family is in South Africa, and Jodi’s is in Minnesota, they consider themselves surrounded by family at Camp Jewell where they’ve lived for the past eight years. And they’re tapping into that camp family even more now that their own has grown from two to three people with the birth of their son, Jonah.
“We’ve always spent so much time here at camp that having a baby really hasn’t altered our lifestyle,” Peter said. “And if we do need or want to leave camp for the evening, we’re lucky we’ve had an overwhelming number of people who have offered to babysit anytime.” First in line was Kathie Reese, our office manager who’s also taken on the role of “camp grandmother” for many kids who’ve grown up at camp.
The couple had said while they were expecting Jonah that they intended to incorporate him into their already established lifestyle at camp, and that’s happened over the past three months. Jodi took the summer off to be with the baby, and Peter went home for lunch daily so he could check in with them. Now Jodi has returned to work, and the baby is with a nanny here at camp on the days when she and Peter work.
“We’re really looking forward to Jonah growing up at camp,” Peter said. “I think he’ll have a unique experience, not one many kids have. He really is going to be like a Jungle Book character,” he said with a laugh.
Together, Peter and Jodi hope that Jonah will grow up to be comfortable around different people and be flexible as a result of being raised here. “I think a lot of kids today are so sheltered, and they don’t get a lot of interaction with different people so they’re introverted,” Jodi said. “I was extremely shy as a kid and it took me a long time to get out of that, so my goal is he’ll spend a lot of time around people as he grows up and just be more comfortable.” Peter, who was also pretty shy as a kid, has a similar hope for Jonah.
Working at camp has definitely impacted their parenting style and the way they intend to raise Jonah. “I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of parents and I want to be the kind who lets my child be an individual, to try things on his own and let him fix things himself without being coddled,” Jodi said. “I don’t think I’m going to be a pushover, but he’ll know I’m in his corner and that I am here for him.”
For Peter, working at camp has taught him skills he wants to share with Jonah as he grows up, especially things he’s learned from working in maintenance. “I also want him to learn to take responsibility for both his actions and his surroundings,” he said. “I think my parents were really good role models. They gave a never-ending supply of love and discipline, let us make our own mistakes, and they encouraged us to spread our wings. I hope we are as good at parenting as they were.”
So if you come up to camp, you’re likely to find Peter or Jodi out and about with Jonah, much the same as they were before he was born. “If there’s anything that prepared us for parenting it’s working at summer camp,” Jodi said. “During the summer we’re working 15 or 16 hours, straight all-out physical work for the day. We’re used to life being all-encompassing and all-out go. Now we’re doing it with Jonah alongside us, too.”