Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Went To Camp Tecumseh And All I Got Was This Lousy Head Cold

Hey y'all! I survived! I spent lots of hours with lots of 7th graders--IN THE POURING RAIN--and we all lived to tell about it. It was fun, even! I had actually forgotten how much I liked junior high kids.

Many, many moons ago, when I was student teaching, I had a teaching assignment at a junior high and I loved it. I know. I'm sure this says something about my mental state. Most people claim that they would rather have their toenails pulled out with pliers and be given a foot bath in brine than deal with junior high school students, but as you might have gathered by now, I am not most people. In fact, I am probably slightly more odd than most people. Which probably explains why I like junior humans that most people are tempted to deep fry, dip in ketchup, and eat. I just love their flakiness. I like that they are still surging toward their potential. I love that they are still kid-like and silly, but you can see the adult they are going to become. Also, I like burp jokes and bathroom humor.

I really did have fun. Granted, some of it was at the expense of watching my child and her peers square dance. [Aside: What is the deal with 7th grade and square dancing? Is there some unwritten law of the universe that says you must take children at perhaps their most awkward and cruel stage and make them dance together? I remember having to square dance in my 7th grade gym class. It still gives me post traumatic flashbacks. And if my daughter complains about having had to endure an evening of square dancing, I will remind her that I had to do it several times a week for 6 weeks, while wearing a gym uniform and being graded on my performance. Also? Hey you whippersnappers, get offa my lawn!] Now, it is true that only one of the dances they did would truly qualify as a square dance. They did the Virginia Reel (which was by far my favorite to watch) and they seemed to have fun with it--given the amount of laughter happening all around the room. But they also did the Hokey Pokey, the Chicken Dance, the Bunny Hop (hilarious AND dangerous!) and the Electric Slide. Last time I checked, they weren't doing these at the local square dance club. (Okay, I never really checked. I'm not even sure that there is a local square dancing club, but I'm pretty sure if there is, they weren't doing the Electric Slide...)
It was a night that I'm awfully glad I got to see.

I enjoyed being the adult at the table during mealtimes. I sat with the same group of seven kids for each meal. They were gross. They were hilarious. They were awkward. They were beautiful. They were intelligent. They were insecure. They were rude. They were awesome. I think that pretty well sums up the entire 13 year old experience, by the way. After they got over the fact that I was old, I think they might have even enjoyed my presence too.

Wednesday was beautiful. The kind of stunningly beautiful autumn day that captures all of your senses: the air was crisp, the leaves were on fire, the light was golden. Thursday and Friday we were looking for the Ark. It rained. All. Day. Long. And not a wussy little drizzle either. The skies opened and buckets fell.

I had it easy. I could go back to the cabin and stay dry, take a nap if I wished (and I did--it was great!), read, hike. I did hike, but it wasn't too enjoyable. Between trying not to fall down on the slippery trails and trying to see past my blue rain poncho, I didn't get a lot out of it. In fact, the only wildlife I saw on the whole trip was an owl that was in the middle of the road (what the hell?) the night I drove out of camp. I nearly ran over it. Yes, Mother Nature loves me. We are like, BFFs.

The kids, on the other hand, had life a little more difficult. First off, they had to, you know, actually learn stuff. (Like, OMG!! What is the deal? Can't we just, like come to camp and like, I don't know, talk and hang out and stuff?!!? We actually have to do school? Ugh. Life is soooo unfair! No cell phones, like no texting, and all of these trees! I, like, don't deal well with nature.) Then they had to square dance. (Really, this might have been harder on the adults. That building smelled like a sweat lodge!) And once they left their cabins for breakfast, they didn't go back until 10:30 pm. If they forgot something, they had to learn to live without it. So all those hours of rain? Yeah. Those kids were out in it.

Maggie thought I was a big dork for making her pack a rain poncho, but after the first day of slogging through the rain, she didn't care any more. Fashion went by the wayside and kids were doing whatever it took to stay dry. When she came home, everything in her suitcase was damp. She dumped it all in the laundry room and took a very long, very hot shower. She was extremely glad to see her own bed. Unfortunately, she became a little better acquainted with her bed than she might have wished.

All those bodies together, all that trudging through the rain, all that in and out of overheated buildings into the cool temperatures, made a super breeding ground for nasty germs in my kid's sinuses. Sunday afternoon brought a fever, cough, and major congestion. She stayed home from school yesterday. She is feeling better and will head back to school today.

I know that she learned a lot. I'm certain that she had a good time. But all things being equal? I'm sure she'd have rather had a Camp Tecumseh tee shirt as a souvenir to bring home than the head cold she brought home instead. I, on the other hand, got to see my daughter interact with her friends in a different environment. I got to spend some alone time. I got to take blackmail pictures. It was totally worth my time and I can't wait to go back with another kid. But I am glad that I'll have a couple of years to catch up on my sleep before I have to go back. Teenagers wear me out!

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