Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Because Life Goes On...

I spent this past weekend under the Redwoods, not far from the Coast (but far enough so the fog burned off quickly), with 50 women and 9 men who are giving up at least 10 days of vacation time to be Girl Scout camp counselors.

Yes, we are crazy. And I have the memories to prove it. There might even be pictures floating around. Somewhere.

Last year, DD#2 saw this program listed in the Camp brochure. Unfortunately, the sessions overlapped our visit with the Japanese Scouts, so she opted to go to a different camp. This year, she found the program again and asked if she could go. Although I was a bit quicker on the ball as far as getting her registration in (Camp registration is always due around the same time as school registration, it seems), the session was filled with one exception: there was room for staff kids.

"DD#2 can go only if I go," I explained to Hubs.

"Can't she go somewhere else and do this next year?"

"Next year she'll be too old. Besides, she'll be in Japan."

Hubs thought a moment. "Okay, you can go. But you can't have fun!"

I laughed. This from the man who went to Boy Scout camp for a week with the troop, even though the son in the troop is at camp on staff! And he's taking another week off to be the support vehicle for the troop's 50-miler.

"Okay, I'll try not to!"

This last weekend was intensive training. I made a list of the stuff I need to bring that's not on the packing list. I discovered that my unit is sleeping in tents--at the top of the hill. I met the women I'll be working with and the ones who will be taking care of my daughter. We tried to juggle how we were going to fit all the program we're supposed to do in a 24-hour day, plus schedule downtime for the girls, breaks for ourselves, showers, and--oh, yeah--sleep. I discovered that, although it's my first year at this camp, I'm a unit leader, responsible not only for the girls, but for the staff in my unit.

Some important stuff, like all the different rules, was sweetened by games. As an adult, I have two choices: I can roll my eyes or I can buy into it completely, jumping in with both feet and rediscovering my crazy inner girl.

I jumped.

And I was rewarded to find I was surrounded with kindred spirits.

At the closing, one of the younger staff shared that she was usually quite shy, but that we didn't give her a chance to be. We just sort of dragged her along with us into our madness. She was glad we did--she had more fun than she thought she would.

An acquaintance of mine told me that Eleanor Roosevelt once said that she tried to do something that challenged her every day. I can't find that exact quote, but I found something similar: "You must do the things you think you cannot do. " She also said, "We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot." So this acquaintance tries to do something that she has never done before, something that she's afraid of doing. For her it was being in a musical with the local theater group. For me, it's going back to camp as a counselor, not just during the day, but for 24-hours for ten days, something I haven't done since I was 19.

As a bonus, I get to go sea-kayaking! (And take 19 11-y.o. & 12-y.o. girls to the Boardwalk, which is probably scarier!)

But I like my staff and the core staff at the camp. I think we will work well together. DD#2 is in the other Mariner unit, so the only time we'll see each other, besides meals, is sea-kayaking and at the Boardwalk. I think she can live with that. :)

And it felt good to be under the redwoods. I didn't realize quite how much I missed the camaraderie of camp, of being with people who are just as enthusiastic and just as committed (or committable!) as I am. It's a nice change from the everyday, somewhat sober, mother and professional employee that I usually am.