Not to be confused with Dancing in the Dark.
It is 10:30 on a Friday night and I have been in my bed since 8:30. I tried to read but my eyes keep closing. The week has been full. Good-full. Crazy-full. A little drama-full. Tire-some full. In between deciding if I am going to bed, I am washing laundry. Packing for camp as I leave on Monday for five days of fifth grade camp. It is one of my most favorite memories to make with my fifth graders-well, if I don’t choke them during the process. In the past seven years some of my most memorable camp “lessons” have included:
1. Don’t run to the lunch lady, your teacher will grab you by your backpack and spin you around so fast your eyes will take a full sixty seconds to catch up to you.
2. I can light fire in the rain at Survival. I refuse to tell my secret.
3. Gatorade is liquid gold. It cures tantrums. Homesickness. Meltdowns and even fist fights.
4. I am the master kite builder.
5. Sea lab guy gets creepier every year.
6. EVERYONE oohs and ahhhs at the camp fire. Even though it is like 3 feet by 2 feet and the kids are not anywhere near it.
7. Two years of being a high school cheer leader comes in handy when you lead camp songs. Who knew, “Hey Pirates” would become “Hey campers” and they can still do a surfer dude.
8. There are ghosts. Trust me.
9. It is pretty amazing to see the kids grow in change in a few short days…and to see them outside of the classroom. I love that they love me back while I am there and want me to be in every picture, tell me about their candy, counselor, falling down the hill, and ask me things like “Do I know how awesome the light house is?” (Duh, yeah, it is a lighthouse!)
10. All four of my own children have attended–two while I was there as a teacher, and so far one as a camp counselor. Once, three of us were there all the same sesson. Teacher. Camper. Counselor.
11. Putting your flashlight to your face in the dark never gets old.
12. Yes, your teacher will make you eat. Yes. I know it is fake eggs. Eat it anyway.
13. High school kids really do step up and do a great job as counselors. Unless they try to sneak out at night. Then it is on like Donkey Kong.
14. I like the “J” building to sleep in. The showers don’t honk when you turn them on.
15. Sleep is overrated.
16. Kids don’t understand currents, yet they still try to throw their wooden boats into the water and “say” they get it.
17. It is a very very very long walk from the fort to the survival camp.
18. Heat. It is never overrated.
19. A good meal on your time off is awesome. Make friends with someone who drove so you can go into town.
20. Smiling. There is a lot of smiling.
So I get my rainboots ready-because sometimes it rains (ok, all the time) and my raincoat. I packed some hand warmers, washed my sleeping bag and my camp “sheet”. I have my hiking boots and my plethora of hats because my curly hair cannot take the camp water, sky water, or constant water in the air. I don’t want to scare kids with the frizz I am trying to grow out. I prepare my body to eat camp food in a mess hall. Although, I LOVE camp oatmeal. I am not sure what it is about the sticky mess with brown sugar and raisins, but I eat it every day I am there.
Each yearI arrive, I remember how wonderful camp is. How much I love being there and not just the experience for the kids, but for me. There is something wonderful about climbing up to the Fort and standing where soldiers were and just breathing the salt air. Peaceful, yes, but also knowing it is a transition time in the school year and wrapping up with my kids. I have great memories with my teaching partners too. Freezing up at the fort and huddling for body heat as kids run around for the scavenger hunt. (I have since asked to PLEASE not be put on fort for the scavenger hunt because I seem to piss off the weather gods and bring out the wind. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) Staying up late after the kids go to bed and just talking. It makes me feel like a camper instead of a teacher. Seeing my teaching partners sing camp songs and shake their booty and make a fool of themselves in front of 500 fifth graders each session or trying to get the rockets to go in the rain–because kids need to light their rockets! Weather be damned! It is priceless.
I always pack a book and the list of treats my own kids want from the candy store in town-jawbreaker, Swedish Fish, and Sour Patch Kids. I always bring them home something from the candy store. OH and rockets this year. I even made my own. So, we shall see if it actually goes up in the air or lands in the ocean or tries to take out someone’s eye. I never read my book. I always eat the Swedish Fish before they make it home.
OH! And I have a whistle. AND I use it.
This year I am excited to go all week for both sessions. I just need to finish packing and organize my stuff before hand. Try hard to NOT forget anything. Like a towel. Because that sucks if you do.
So, no more typing in the dark. It will be a week of pretty much technology free days.
I look forward to that and the great memories about to be made.