Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I’ve never been a Campfire Girl, but look at me now

Growing up, my parents had a place “at the lake” which is where I spent a good chunk of my summers. While it certainly wasn’t fancy, it had electricity and indoor plumbing and screened windows and actual beds and kitchen appliances. Which meant my idea of “roughing it” at the lake meant no television or phone. And fighting for the right to sleep in the room with the window unit a/c. The time I spent at the lake as a youth without a doubt helped form my number one rule for camping today ….. basically, don’t do it.

Technically, there are aspects of camping I think I would enjoy …. Hiking, swimming, fishing, and hey, who am I to turn down a quality s’more? But my policy in life has been: If I have to put my shoes on and carry a flashlight in order to go to the bathroom during the night? Then it’s too “rough” for me. The one time I floated the Talequah River with my friends and we drove down the night before to “camp” and everyone else slept in tents? I slept in my car with the windows rolled up and the doors locked and horded my lone roll of toilet paper. I don’t even REMEMBER where I went to the bathroom, which just goes to show you it was a traumatic experience that I’ve blocked from my memory.

Imagine my delight when I found out the 5th grade at my kids’ new school (they’ve been going there ten months …. How much longer can I call it “new”?) goes on a 3-day, “Outdoor School” adventure every fall, and this year I get to go along as a chaperone!!! Woo-hoo!! (said with sarcasm) Actually, according to legend, it’s apparently great fun for everyone involved, and Brayden has been sulking since we moved here – a month after last year’s 5th grade trip - that she missed it and didn’t get to go. Yet another way we’ve ruined her life, but that’s another post for another day. The kids hike and fish and shoot rifles and look for animal tracks and study nature. They ride in canoes and perform skits, makes movies and bonfires …. which means I’m responsible for making sure no one from my cabin drowns, shoots themselves, puts an eye out with an arrow, wanders off the trail and gets lost or eaten by a bear, falls in poison sumac, or catches their clothes on fire. Aaahhhhh, good times.

No, I’m kidding --- I *am* looking forward to it. Especially because we sleep in real beds, in cabins that have air conditioning and electricity and bathrooms. Thank goodness, still not too “rough”. Although we were warned at our Parents’ Meeting that it’s a good idea to put shoes on before going to the bathroom at night …. Which doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling at all.

Blaine wanted to go, but they already had enough male chaperones signed up, and not enough females, so here I go. I get to herd guide seven little girls through the entire adventure …. From getting them up in the mornings, to meals, to outdoor activities, back to bed each night. And our girls’ cabin is teamed with Kellen’s cabin, so I get to spend my days with him and his cabin mates as well, which was pretty much the whole point of me going. Thankfully I don’t have to do any “teaching” because what the hell do I know about astronomy or survival wilderness skills or hiking or archery?? Mainly, I’m just hoping I don’t fall down a mountain.

My brother-in-law is going as a boys’ chaperone. I’ve already told him he might have to get behind me and push on the way up.

So I’ll be gone Wednesday through Friday this week, and will probably come home and collapse Friday night. Blaine will carry on gamely in our absence, shuttling the girls to and from school and activities, overseeing homework, working at his own job, and getting the rest of this week’s radiation treatments. I went with him yesterday to his first one, and actually got to go back in the radiation room while they got him ready. I watched as he climbed on the table and they fitted his radiation mask over his head and shoulders and face, and then bolted it to the table. The purpose is to keep his head perfectly still, and then I watched as they aligned the laser lights over his face and took x-rays. All in all, it was ….. interesting. And creepy, if I’m being honest. He had *talked* about the mask, he had told me how much he hates being bolted to the table and how suffocated it makes him feel. After yesterday, I think I understand little better.

But, claustrophobia aside, the appointment went well, and I’m certain he’ll manage fine while I’m gone.

Seriously. It’s me, my uncoordinated body, and overweight ass trying to hike up those hills we need to be worried about. There is a Camp Nurse who attends, but it’s my neighbor, and it would certainly make for an awkward Block Party next year if the poor guy had to resuscitate me right there in front of all the kids. Wish me luck ... getting eaten by a bear might be less embarrassing.


Gin said...

You will have fun! I chaperoned a very similar camp with my son last year (5th grade--actually since you lived in Georgia, you may know of it....Rock Eagle). Like you, I am not a camping type of person, but it was a fun learning experience. He did come home with pneumonia, but thoroughly enjoyed himself despite the illness, LOL. Hope you guys have a great time.

Anonymous said...

See, when our 5th graders go to Outdoor Science School, there are no parent chaperones. There are four 5th grade teachers and then the kids are chaperoned by the camp counselors. I swear though, my kids have it so much better than I did...outdoor science school, trips to choir festivals in Northern CA (we live in Southern CA), 7th grade class trip up to Monterey/San Francisco, 8th grade class trip to Washington DC. This year, my sophomore son is going to New York City to sing in Carnegie Hall, for Pete's sake. I'm not chaperoning, but we are going as a tourist family to watch.

Have fun! And make sure to shake out your shoes before putting them on...you don't want to find any critters sleeping in them.

Anonymous said...

i'm not a camper either but i've been going with the elementary school since my boys were in 6th grade 4 years ago. i first went with their class in november of that year, then with the 5th grade in january and have been going every year ever since with the 5th grade (we no longer have 6th grade at this school). it is really fun but maybe because i stay in the teacher's cabins and we go for pizza and starbucks runs...

have a good time!! :O)

santa clara, ca

Anonymous said...

OK, that's on my worst nightmare list, not at the top, but on it somewhere. Our family camped because my dad liked to and my mom was a good sport and it was cheap. I hated it then and I would rather have a root canal then do it now.

Have a wonderful time. You're a good mom! A really good mom!!


Anonymous said...

How is it that you are going through so much and you crack me up and cheer me up pretty much everytime I read your blog? Looking forward to tales from the forest adventure!


Anonymous said...


I found you through Michelle Meyer's site. She and I have been friends for nearly five years now.

I have to tell you that I think in another life you and I were sisters! I have a 10 year old daughter, who .. with the windows rolled up ... and just us in the car ... is allowed to cuss. I told her your story on our way to school today ... for the rest of the afternoon ... well, I'm sure you can guess what she called any and nearly every other driver on the road!!!!

The name of your blog is what caught my attention ... and your writing style keeps me coming back. I find you hysterically funny. I often tell Michelle that we need to group our writings together and put them in a book ... I think your words should be there too.

Karen said...

They do that here too. The 5th graders go to Sky Ranch Camp every year. I had the pleasure of going with my twin daughters last year. There is about 4 parents to each cabin with 20 kids . The teachers get a kid free cabin so its like they are on vacation and they love it. I was counting down the minutes until it was time to head home.
I am sure you will have fun. Let us know how it goes.

Tracy said...

All I can say is better you than me-even the cabin thing sounds like roughing it to me. :)
Campfire Girls-wow that takes me back to days gone by-and yes some of those days are probably the reason why I prefer to stay away from the great outdoors at least for sleeping.
Really I do hope all goes well-you are a brave woman.

The Running Girl said...

Wow! That's a big trip for the whole 5th grade class to take, but it sounds like fun. Hope you have a great time.

Wishing Blaine success as well. Radiation and having your face bolted to the table by a mask does NOT sound like fun.

Tammy said...

Kristi, you are soo crazy! Can't wait to hear all about your adventure, give those bears a kiss for me, he he he! No wonder why Blaine wanted to go, face bolted to table, I feel for you, really. Hugs from Fort Worth.

Lane said...

Be careful. I went to Camp Classen in Oklahoma during my 5th grade trip, only it was the whole week - not just 3 days. One night I woke up to go potty and walked in the bathroom only to find a HUGE scorpion in the sink. No worries though, I'm sure you'll be just fine! :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck, girl - soooo glad it's you and not me (my idea of camping is a Motel 6 instead of the Embassy Suites!). Could be a lot worse, though - could've been tents instead of cabins. As a veteran camper (thanks to my parents and ex-husband) let me offer just one piece of advice - check the INSIDES of your shoes before you put them on - every time! Bugs like warm, dark, moist places that smell like humans....and please tell Blaine that he's still in my prayers....

Alisa said...

Good luck brave woman! I made my husband go on the Brig Pilgrim trip with my daughter. They had to stay up all night and "run" a tall ship. Luckily, it was only overnight. They had a blast, but it's been way too long since I pulled an all nighter.

Anonymous said...

We did that too, at the end of 5th grade and again to a different camp in the fall of 8th grade. So many fun memories! Of course back then I wasn't terrified of spiders, and snakes, and bugs in general like I am now....

Anonymous said...

hmm...face bolted to the table or camping with a bunch of 5th graders. I do think that the campers have it!

Don't forget bug spray! The mosquitos are still out!

Have fun!!

Natalie said...

Holy cow--I didn't know there were bears and mountains in OK! You might as well be in CO! I have total bear-a-phobia. It's a real condition you know. And moose. Watch out for moose. They are really mean. Not to scare you or anything. I'm sure it will be great and not at ALL like the camp in Friday the 13th. Right?

Stefunkc said...

I've heard about that camp nurse. I hear he's cute!!
I hope you have a blast and survive. I've been there, it's fun but challenging. Some of the best memories though.
If that cute nurse has to do mouth to mouth, I really don't need to hear about it!

Anonymous said...

If you want to really sleep at all during your trip, bring earplugs! Tween girls, as I'm sure you know, can talk nonstop for hours. They will be too excited to go to sleep, and there will be way too much to talk about.
They can run on adrenaline alone for days on end, just like the Energizer bunny. You and the other moms will need sleep, and caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.

Hope you have a great time!

melinda marie said...

Hi Kristie!
How are YOU? Hang in there. We're all praying for you and Blaine.
I can't wait to see your Alaska pics one of these days. I know you have a thing or two to do before then!
Sorry you have to miss your girls weekend, but I know you've got to do what you've got to do when duty calls.

Have you ever tried electonic scrapbooking? I just bought the CM software and am about to dive in. Scary.