Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Week in Paradise

Saturday afternoon I returned from a week at Girl Scout camp where I volunteered to be a counselor to a group of 11-13 y.o. girls. I really enjoy this age--especially when I'm not related to them! They're in the process of discovering who they are, so they are "trying on" different personalities and interests. As "not-the-mom," I enjoy it. I'm not invested in their grades or how well they're doing in soccer or swimming or dance. I can appreciate them for who they are and who they are becoming.

Of course, there's drama. Of course, they are irresponsible and I often feel that I must repeat each instruction individually to each girl. On the other hand, most of these girls have been away from home before and most of them have been to this particular camp. So they are familiar with the lack of amenities and the idea that they have camp wide chores to do--like "hopping." ("Hoppers" set the tables, get the food and drinks for the table, get seconds when needed, bus the tables after the meal, wipe off the table, and sweep the dining hall floor. And they also chose which Grace the camp will sing.) They also have to clean the shared bathroom and at least once during the week, clean up their tents.

They were surprised when I announced tent clean-up and sleeping bag airing, especially when I said, "I know that your duffel bags have exploded everywhere. I want you to find all your underwear and all your socks now." One camper asked me, "How did you know?"

Because I'm a mom of four and an experienced counselor.

This year I was really fortunate to work with five amazing women. We complemented each other well and we all had a rather wicked sense of humor. This was especially amazing since three of us, including me, caught the "camp crud" that was going around and were laid low for several days. (I still have a pretty nasty cough.) I was looking forward to kayaking in the slough, but decided to conserve my strength for the drive back to camp.

But I did get my "dirt" fix. And my beach fix. And my campfire and s'more fix. I didn't get to sing much because of the crud, but I enjoyed the music and the skits and the dancing and the general craziness that goes on at camp. My biggest triumph: I made one very solemn girl smile. It took me all week to do it and it was a small smile, but I'm counting it!

DD#2 opted not to come to camp with me but work at our local GS Day Camp instead. She's a "junior counselor" this year, assigned to work with an adult counselor with whom both DD#1 and I have worked. Tomorrow is the Family Dinner & Campfire--I can't wait to get the report on how she did! It was kind of nice going to camp on my own, although I did have some worries about how the family would manage to get everyone where they needed to be while I was gone. They managed. DS#2 has even been cleaning the living room/family room/craft area slowly but surely. He wants to have a party--great motivation!