Friday 15 June 2012

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Crazy Camp Conversations

I'm back! I've officially survived being at camp with 55 Grade 6 kids and I've returned with only a few bruises, a little less ego, and a whole new perspective on what my daughter's day to day life involves. Surprisingly, it's an improved perspective. The complete chaos that I expected from taking that many pre-teens into the wilderness was certainly there, but as a group of kids I was immensely impressed with how funny, supportive, and genuine they all were.

Most of all though, I was blown away by how inclusive they were. I'm grateful that my daughter goes to a school where socializing outside of your normal circle of friends isn't a hard thing to do, and it's a great credit to her classmates that pairing one of the cool kids with a straight A student for an activity was never a cause for any conflict or concern. Pairing my daughter with a boy on a canoe trip however, was a cause for great concern, especially when they insisted on paddling more than 20 yards from shore. I really need to get a better zoom on my camera.

Trying to stay out of Dad's camera range
Now it's all behind us though, and everybody can relax and look back. My daughter will remember the trip as a fantastic time spent with her classmates before they all move to a new, bigger campus next year. The teachers will remember the trip as a chance to say goodbye to their students, many of whom they've known since they started school there several years ago.

And me? I think the proper answer is that I'm going to remember the experience as a chance to watch my daughter interact with her peers in a natural setting. That's what I probably should say, and I'm sure it is something that I really will look back on with great fondness. Truthfully though, the moments I'm going to remember most from camp are a little bit stranger than that. It may have been wonderful to see everybody getting along so well, but I was still in charge of a cabin of Grade 6 boys. The mind works in very mysterious ways, but sometimes you have to wonder if it's working at all...

The Canoe Question:
We had a little bit of bad weather on our second day at camp, and for a little while they had to limit us to indoor activities. Inevitably, a group of boys came up to me and the conversation went like this:
"Can we use the canoes?"
"Nope. It's still raining."
"Why does that matter?"
"Well when it rains, the canoes fill up with water, and eventually they'll sink."
"If we turn them over can we use them?"
It took a lot of willpower to not send them out onto the lake on upside down canoes.

The Release Request:
We were playing a game where the kids would try and sneak across the camp in the dark without being captured in a beam of light from a flashlight that the parents were wielding. One of the boys that I captured in my light pleaded with me not to send him all the way back to the start and made an offer for his freedom:
Boy: "Will you let me go if I can name all the provinces?"
Me: "Sure, I'm a reasonable man. Go ahead and list them."
Boy: "OK, know what, never mind. You got me."

Snap, Crackle, Pop:
I'm sure this doesn't come as a secret, but in a cabin full of pre-teen boys, flatulence is the highest form of humor. One morning a particularly long emission came from one of the boys in a top bunk and before the complaints could drown it out a lone voice came forth; "Dude! That's the sound Rice Krispies make when you pour milk on them." Breakfast was ruined for a lot of us that morning.

Head-ing to the Zipline
At one point during the week I found myself as the assigned parent supervisor of the zipline. I assure you that my only qualifications for supervising this apparatus are my age and my ability to follow directions, so when child after child came up to me and asked if it was really important that they wear the helmet, I knew that the required response was "Yes". One child however, had further questions.
"Do we have to wear the helmet to use the zipline?"
"Yes, it's important."
"You're ziplining through a forest. What happens if you hit a tree?"
"I won't. What if I promise not to hit a tree with my head?"
"Oh, well if you promise, that's OK then."
Side note: Grade 6 girls have no appreciation for sarcasm, but have a remarkable ability to squirm past you once they feel permission has been given. Only my death grip on the back of her sweater kept the girl from zipping down the course sans helmet.

I Don't Want to Know
Sometimes only hearing part of the conversation, is WAY to much information. I left the cabin early one morning to beat the rush to the bathrooms. On my return, I walked into the cabin just in time to hear one boy explaining to another "I didn't mean to pee on the floor. I meant to pee on you!". I'm not sure how many years of grown-up experience you need under your belt to have the proper answer to such a comment ready to go, but I assure you I haven't reached that number yet.

This post is a part of Friday Daydreamin at R We There Yet Mom. If you didn't get here from there, you should really go check them out. There's people there who might actually know what to say when walking into the cabin half way through a conversation. I kinda doubt it though.

Written by Steve Pratt