Monday, July 16, 2007

They tried to make me go to girls camp but I said 'no, no, no'.
It's this week. In theory, I'd go if I could; meaning, I'd go if my husband could take the week off from work to be with the kids so I could go. But in reality, two factors get in my way:



1. The stake wants my husband at girls camp more than they want me there. For the past few years, he's gone to camp to chop wood, give devotionals, whathaveyou. This year he's going to go up there (down there? It's south, but in the mountains...) two days, to teach a class on modesty, and also one night to play security guard. So even if he did have the entire week available, I still wouldn't be able to commit to going the entire week because he would be, and is, in higher demand.



2. I don't know if I really want to go. My girls camp experiences were much, much different than what the girls do here. My first year, we went to a campground on Lake Erie; one of those nights, we slept on the beach. I don't remember where we went our second year, but it had a lake and involved swimming and boating - yes, boating! - among other waterfront activities. The rest of the years were at a place affectionately referred to as Ed's Pond, which place is, in my opinion, the ideal place to hold girls camp. Plenty of land to explore; a large pond on which to canoe and in which to swim, with a zipline and a huge tower with a rope swing. A creek on the property made hikes more interesting.



Also, I certified a year ahead of the rest of the girls in my stake who were my age. I just...liked to do all the stuff, and I was good at it. I loved being in that leadership position. A few years, the rain did not stop the entire time we were there. We slept in tents and during those rainy years, everything in our tents, sleeping bags included, got soaked. The toilet facility was a wooden shack with one flushing toilet, a roll of toilet paper, and 50 flies. Sometimes I'd sleep in my tent, other times I'd sleep under the stars. One year, I just put my sleeping bag on the gravel by the picnic tables under the pavillion, and I woke up feeling so refreshed, as the tiny rocks had perfectly conformed to cradle the shape of my body. The fire was used for heat and for cooking, and nights spent sitting by the fire were comforting and relaxing.



I'm not the type to rub all this in people's faces: "Oh, YEAH?!? Well where I grew up, we didn't even HAAAAVE cabins!!!" No. That's not why I don't think I want to go to girls camp now. It's because I have a feeling that things up there are too strict. I understand having to wear long pants for protection from deer ticks and the like, but did anyone notice that it's 105 degrees up (down?) there? Yes, it's the mountains, but it's also the desert. Let 'em wear shorts! And, you don't need showers, they can just 'wash' in the lake. What? The girls aren't allowed to go in the lake? What's that all about? Safety? Again? Come on. It doesn't have to be required, but it should certainly be an option. Some of my fondest memories of my teenage years are of my friend Adam and I (yes, Adam is a boy, and he was at girls camp) teaching the girls at girls camp how to row a canoe, how to properly "fall" out of a canoe, if you have the option (I have a photo of myself demonstrating this, somewhere). We'd row them out to the middle of the pond, have them all "fall" out, and then flood the canoe and teach them how to get the water out, get back in, and get to shore. While I realize that this is not the kind of survival skill many, or any, of us would find ourselves in need of, it was fun. And, here's a hint to the rule-makers: if you want the girls to be tired, make them go swimming. Another hint: don't put the 5th year girls in charge of cabin assignments. I don't know what it's like to have such a large group of girls go to camp from one ward, but I like to think that if a goal was to help the girls bond and to get them to reach out to one another, I wouldn't leave their sleeping arrangements up to them.



Though I jest (sort of) about not wanting to go to girls camp because of the heat and the stupid, stupid rules, the fact remains that if circumstances allowed, I would be going to girls camp for the entire week. The fact also remains that at least two of my favorite women on the planet will be there this week, and I will miss them. I will be thinking of them the whole time they are gone, wishing I could be up (down?) there with them, sitting in camping chairs, sipping caffeine-free beverages, talking about how different things would be if WE ran the camp, and then watching the inevitable drama, built up from months of planning, explode all over Mia Shalom.

Have a great time, girls! I'll be thinking of you as I sit here in my refrigerated house!

14 comments:

MOM said...

Great post! The year you don't remember was at Chapman Dam-- it rained and we did mud sliding down the hill on trash bags. And we had a fire in the shelter that is usually used in the winter for cross country skiers, but we needed it to dry out sleeping bags.And where was it that you and Brittan saved one of the Vidoni girls? Our girls camp is next week, we no longer go to Ed's pond, but I have many fond memories of it. We go to Foster's land-- we camp in tents, in a forest that could easily be incorporated into the Allegany National Forest. They swim and canoe in branches of the Allegany River. They learn basic horesman ship. And we all make friends. My husband isn't as much in demand as I am. I get to be the nurse and a chaperone and one of the "stake people". Dave is going to be down on Wed. for protection or whatever-- he will get to see me as the wilderness woman I love to be. you are welcome to come!

~j. said...

Ma - Actually, I do remember Chapman's Dam, I just try not to (that was the year we swam across the lake, etc.).

You weren't there that year: did your stake return since you've been a YW leader?

kiki said...

I had to go to Girls Camp this year. I had successfully gotten out of going the previous three years, but this year, I had to go for the entire week. I. WAS. DREADING IT! Luckily for me, my friend FFF was also going to be there, and it was so much fun.

Because I'd gone to camp, I wasn't going to go to Youth Conference, BUT NO! I got shafted! I HAD to go, and it was going to be where? At a campground! And this campground was yucky because it involved mud and bugs and leaves in beds and musty cabin smells and humidity and being outside and sweating! UGH! And my partner in crime, FFF, wasn't going to be there because she had moved back to Utah (*sniff*), so I was going to feel like something was missing. It ended up being alright. THE SWEATING!!! I HATE sweating when I don't want to, which is most of the time.

MOM said...

No, we haven't been back there. Went to Camp Birds El Eddy for a couple of years, (when Rae went with me) But this will be our third year at Foster's. It is an excellent spot and it is "ours" no out siders. They use it for ward camp outs, stake activities and other things. Many Eagle Scout projects have been to improve it. I don't see us going anywhere else. Our Youth Conference was this weekend, we went to the Hill Cumorah Pageant. It was a great trip. It rained through the whole thing.
I did go to Chapman Dam one year- Georgia & I were talking about that just the other day. So, You must have been there 2 years- I know I wasn't there for the near drowning.

b. said...

I grew up going to Shalom. I loved it and have great memories there. But one year we skipped Shalom as a ward and went camping-camping up in the mountains....it was the most memorable year.

sue-donym said...

I wish you would be there too. I might actually enjoy myself. As it is, I will not be going up until Thursday this year anyway. So I miss all of the bonding and am just stuck with the rules.

Groan.

AzĂșcar said...

This brings up a point. Those of us who grew up going to Mia Shalom are now in positions where we can change the rules if we want to...

SO WHY HAVEN'T WE?

Leeches? My FOOT!

b. said...

I can't believe they STILL won't allow swimming. I never got the leeches routine. But then again, I didn't follow the rules either, I would ACCIDENTALLY fall out of the canoe and pull a few others with me then endure the lecture....whatever.

compulsive writer said...

You just summed up perfectly just about all my feelings about girls camp this year. Except one: My daughter is going for her first year and I know she will have a great time! (An even better time because my husband is going up and I'm not--but I'm good with that.)

Kristen said...

Hey Sweetie! In a couple of weeks I am going to be going up (down?) there. Only for one or two days though. I am sooo looking forward to being among the beautiful scenery, hanging out with my amazing girls and leaders/friends, and being far away from three loud toddlers (of which I adore, of course). I do, however, dread having to abide by ALL the rules you mentioned, living the rigid structure and scheduling of Shalom life, and in the meantime putting on a happy face and be a good example for the girls. Thanks for sharing some of your camp experiences! It reminds me that these few days will help these girls in some way or another....I hope! I wish we still served together. I miss you!

c jane said...

You miss me...I miss you.

ash said...

I grew up in Utah County but never went to Shalom. Our stake owns property in Heber and it's almost everything you described. Tents, lake, zip line, ticks.

I think you are right about the rules though. I went as a leader a few years ago and the stake was much more strict. And I definitely think you are right about the sleeping assignments.

P.S. Glad you are blogging everyday!

Elizabeth-W said...

Great post!!!
One of my favorite camp memories is all of us 5th, 6th, 7th year girls washing out hair in fresh snow-melt water that was about 40 stinkin' degrees. Talk about brain freeze!
I don't remember if we wore shorts or not--I know at night we were freezing so probably not. But I know we'd get in the creeks in our underwear and then get body freeze--I'm sure that was against the rules. But that was the bathtub...
One of my favorite memories was a girl had her cousin visiting from Maryland. As we were driving up the camp she saw a bull, and asked what was hanging down from that cow's belly? I told her it was an udder that just had been milked so it wasn't very full.

Melody said...

Several years ago when I was a YW leader I went to camp for a night or two as the camp nurse (could only take a short time off work.)

On one of those days I gave every girl who wanted it a foot wash/ foot massage. It happened spontaneously when one of the girls made a commented about her sore feet after a hike. It became the highlight of the week for many . . . one girl would see what I was doing, then another would ask if I would rub her feet too, and so-on and so-on. I spent well over an hour, seated near the water spigot "nursing" sore feet with fresh mountain water and Victoria's Secret body cream . . . All the while I talked to them about how beautiful and under-appreciated our feet are . . . Telling them they had lovely feet as one after another would express embarrassment or dislike about how their feet looked.

The next year, I could only attend for one day/night. I got a phone call from someone - I don't remember who - that the year before I had worn hiking sandals (these were sturdy, hefty, comfortable hiking sandals and I wore socks with them) and that the stake leaders wanted to be sure I didn't do that again. You know, rules and all that, and we don't want to set a bad example for the girls.