Summer Camp Blues

Posted: August 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Discoveries, Firsts, Milestones, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Music, Parenting, Summer | 3 Comments »

True confession: I never went to summer camp.

Go ahead, take your pot shots. I know, I’m a freak. As if it’s not bad enough that I’ve never seen Star Wars, I also lack any nostalgia about or understanding of camp culture. I know no campfire songs. I can’t make a lanyard. I’ve never short-sheeted a bed, dipped a sleeping friend’s hand in warm water to make her pee, or snuck out of a cabin late-night to to meet a boy.

But don’t you worry. I’ll be fine.

This void in my childhood experience was great comic fodder for my college friends. I’d be standing at a bar with a new boyfriend and they’d come up to us and say, “Hey, so what say we sing some campfire songs?” Then with dramatic mock dismay they’d say, “Ooooh, yeah… That’s right. Kristen never went to camp.”

Who am I kidding? I never had an actual boyfriend in college.

Anyway, my daughter Kate is like the Patron Saint of Summer Camp. At the tender age of five, no less. She’s gone to so many different camps this summer—adventure camp, costume-making camp, famous artist camp, discovery camp, cooking camp, animation camp—and all in seven weeks’ time.

I can’t imagine what else she’d have done if we hadn’t spent most of July in Rhode Island. Car repair camp? Hair braiding camp? Drum circle camp?

Thankfully Kate’s a super duper trooper when it comes to transitions. The girl is devoid of first-day jitters. She plunges into social settings without knowing a soul, and never considers that that could be awkward.

When I picked her up from the first day of animation camp, a sea of boys poured out of the room before her.

“Wow, I said looking back at the little guys running up to their mothers. “A lot of boys in your camp, huh?”

“Yeah, I’m the only girl,” she said, un-phased. Then she took my hand and led me toward the door.

I had my mouth open to pour out a stream of neurotic questions and maternal concern, but she looked up at me all excited and said, “I used Paigey’s Plum Pudding doll to do stop motion animation today!”

So I closed my mouth, pushed the door open, and heard all about how they took “like 100 pictures of the doll” then made it into a movie.

Katie’s had a blast at all her camps this summer—gathering t-shirts, friendship bracelets, and mad lanyard skillz. But I can’t bear the thought of sticking her into another new environment again. So I’m taking next week off of work, and having some quality time with the girls before school starts.

Perky teen counselors will have nuthin’ on Camp Mama. I plan to make pancakes for breakfast, let us linger in our PJs, then have outings to the beach or the zoo, and go out for gelato. If the weather’s bad I’ll take them to that Winnie the Pooh movie I promised Paige after I traumatized her at Kung Fu Panda 2. (She’s been asking if we can go back to “that big-TV place” but see “something not scary.”)

Hell, we’ll maybe even whip up some friendship bracelets for each other. And of course, there will be LOTS of singing. Every time Kate’s been in the car this summer she’s busted out some new ditty she learned at camp. Her capacity to memorize lyrics astounds me. And she’s got Page trained on the “repeat after me songs” (a genre, I must admit, that was all new to me).

So if you see us driving around Oakland next week, don’t be surprised if the windows are down and we’re happily belting out “Percy the Pale-Faced Polar Bear” or “The Button Factory.” Yes, at age 44, I have finally, blessedly learned some campfire songs.

And I’ve gotta tell you, I love them.

Just in case you too have been denied this pleasure, I’ll share one of our faves. Best sung while eating s’mores or signing your friend’s camp t-shirt.

Well I ran around the corner and I ran around the block,
And I ran right into the donut shop.
And I picked up a donut right out of the grease,
And I handed the lady my five cent piece.

Well she looked at the nickel and she looked at me.
And she said, This nickel is no good you see.
There’s a hole in the middle in and it runs right through.
Said I, There’s a hole in the donut too!

Thanks for the donut. Bye-bye!

Have fun, campers! See you next summer.


3 Comments on “Summer Camp Blues”

  1. 1 Amy W said at 3:57 am on August 19th, 2011:

    It’s funny you should post about never having attended summer camp. I was just talking to my aunt about never having gone to a proper camp. She is only 8 yrs older than me. She had never been to a true camp either. We suffered through at week of church camp once a year, and I went to day camp at our local Y. However, it’s not too late. Apparently one of her friend’s children went to Camp Winnarainbow this summer. He had a blast. It’s far from that of a traditional camp, as upon his return to Dallas, has insisted that his family start meditating with him. :) Anyway, Winnarainbow has an adult’s camp & isn’t that far from you in Mendocino County. So if you’re really feeling like you want that camp experience, maybe this is your opportunity!
    That’s really cool that your daughter is so confident & went to so many camps. Before long she’ll be off to sleep away camp!

  2. 2 FAB said at 6:51 am on August 21st, 2011:

    Move over Hiliary…Kate as Secretary of State is becoming a strong possibiity..the only girl at camp..great odds…

  3. 3 Nancy Davis Kho said at 1:46 pm on September 9th, 2011:

    It’s never too late. Family Camp!

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