Monday, July 21, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Life Lessons I Learned at Camp

When I was a kid, I went to several different camps, both of the "day camp" and "sleep away" variety. Maybe it's a testament to how pleasant my home life was, but while most of the other children seemed to take pleasure in field trips and camp food, the time spent outdoors and lack of adult supervision, I had a different take on the whole camp thing. In fact, I hated it.

I can remember three specific camps I attended: YMCA camp, which was probably a couple of weeks in the summer (similar to what Jack just spent the past two weeks doing); Foxfield riding camp, which was a two-week sleep away camp at the barn I rode at; and, worst of all, Sunny Skies, which we fondly referred to as Scummy Skies.

There's evil lurking behind those wonky eyes...

Perhaps I was foolish to think Jack's experience at swim camp would somehow be a positive one, but after the first three days, which all went, well, swimmingly, things got ugly. Every day he clung to me in tears, begging me not to leave him alone. Part of it was the fact that the five or six different camps the YMCA has all met in a gymnasium in the morning, where they sang the aforementioned "Boom Chicka Boom" and several other classics. Unfortunately, it was incredibly loud and echo-y in the gym, and Jack sometimes has an aversion to really loud noises. Then there was the fact that the counselors were never in the same place at the same time, so I couldn't find people he trusted to leave him with. He also hated certain aspects of the swimming (basically any aspect that didn't involve flopping around at will). His favorite part of the entire two-week experience seems to be a bus ride he took on the second day. (He just admitted this morning that he wasn't actually supposed to get on the bus. Whoops!)

While I greatly enjoyed my free time every day - I spent two or three hours in the mornings eating pastries, drinking coffee, and writing, then met up with friends for lunch or shopping in the afternoons - drop offs were so painful I wasn't entirely sure it was worth it. Now that camp is over I'm starting to rethink that, however...

Still, as much as he "hated" camp, he did make some friends and maybe learned a thing or two about swimming: his report card revealed significant improvement in bubble blowing, although his floating still needs a lot of work. (His teacher also wrote, "Sometimes Jack doesn't always want to get in or participate, but when he does he is very enthusiastic." Why do I get the feeling I'll be seeing more of those types of comments in the future?).

He went from a 1 to a 4 in bubble blowing. Never has a parent been more proud.

But perhaps these kinds of experiences are important, as negative as they may be. Looking back, I can think of quite a few things I learned at camp, and I thought I'd share them with all of you. Maybe they'll bring back fond (or not so fond) memories of your own...

Life Lessons I Learned at Camp:
1) Bees sting. No matter how many times you get stung by a bee (seven), it still hurts like hell.
2) Boys are never too young to want to see naked girls.
3) Water parks are a great place to pick up stomach viruses.
4) Chlorine turns blonde hair green.
5) Getting pooped on by a flock of birds is NOT lucky.
6) Rattlesnakes will make even the toughest of boys cry like a baby.
7) Sandwiches do not make good beach food.
8) Long bus rides are better with friends.
9) Sunscreen is not optional.
10) Camp is more about Mommy's sanity than it is about you having fun.

So, to the a-hole counselor who told me to "flick it off" when I had a bee on my pants (bee sting #3), the boys who watched us change through the holes in the wooden fence by the pool, and that poor girl with the white-blonde hair which turned a fascinating shade of chartreuse, thank you for helping to shape my childhood, for better or worse.

And Mom - I finally understand why you happily shipped us off to camp every summer. Some day I may even forgive you.

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