Monday, January 18, 2010

The post about summer camp which should have been called a bunch of random thoughts

Random thoughts come to me at the strangest times. If I don't write them down or act upon them immediately, they will be gone. This is my husband's fault. It's usually his brain that acts as a human pinball machine, bouncing from here to there. It must be contagious because now I'm doing the same thing.

Jack and I were driving to church on Saturday in silence.

I love it that Jack and Jordan and I can all just be quiet. We can sit quietly, deep in thought, for hours at a time; neither one saying anything unnecessary. We just think and think and think. Quietly.

Suddenly I had the thought.... "my kids have never been to summer camp."

I asked Jack, "you've never been to summer camp, right buddy?"


And I panicked.

How are you supposed to have a "normal" childhood experience without going to summer camp?

I started thinking about my own summer camp experiences. Camp... um... what was it called? Geez. I can't believe I can't remember the name of it...

OK, well that doesn't matter. I do vividly remember the summer I met the first love of my life... Tommy Mezzacapa. He had long hair. I used to think he looked like an Indian. My best friend Janet Leingang stole him from me the next summer at Camp whatever it's called. I should totally see if they're in facebook... Janet and I remained friends throughout college; Tommy and I did not. But I digress... again.

Summer camp was more than making the bead necklaces and singing Kumbayah. It was about learning to go into a situation where you knew absolutely NO ONE, and come out a week later feeling like you had the best friends you'd ever have.

It was about being miserable with 10,000 mosquito bites and sleeping in the incredible heat of a crappy cabin, but then coming home feeling like it was the best week of your life.

I remember every year Jordan would come home from "smart kid camp," and she would cry and cry and cry because it was over. We would say over and over, "Don't be sad because it's over. Be happy that it happened."

How great would that be to melt into a thousand tears simply because you had so much fun?

When I was pregnant with Jack, (like really pregnant... 7 months,) I was a camp nurse at Camp Barnabas. Because I volunteered my time, Jordan got to go to camp for free. Barnabas is a camp for kids with special medical needs and their siblings. I figured it would be a great opportunity for both of us.

You may have seen Camp Barnabas on Extreme Home Makeover a few years ago. Paul and Cindy Teas give their everything to running that camp for kids with mental and medical challenges. It is an absolutely incredible place run by incredible people.

OK, back to my story ... summer camp, August, no air conditioning, really pregnant;
I must have been out of my mind.

It was a life changing experience for me though. Getting to know the kids, actually seeing them overcome their challenges, and observing the dedication and committment of the camp staff definitely made me grow spiritually.

There was a girl there with Down's syndrome. Every single day when she would see me at breakfast passing out meds, she would shout, "Congratulations on your baby. Do you know who the father is?"

Every single day. Multiple times a day. Except it sounded more like "fada..."

Every single day ....

We still use this phrase a lot at home. And secretly, I say it in my mind to every pregnant person I meet. Because it reminds me of Camp Barnabas. And it makes me giggle.

Jordan was able to bunk in a cabin with both the special needs kids and their siblings. Let's just say that Jordan has always been ... well we liked to call it "creative" back then. It would probably fall under "creepy" today. She really got into the ghost story telling part of camp. She made up an elaborate story about a mythical creature called a "Galafagoff." As memory serves, the "Galafagoff" was a huge black creature who stole children out of their cabins at night.

I think there were probably a lot of kids who came home from camp that summer with nightmares... Sorry. I digress again.

Now my random thought has turned into a mission. I have got to find the best summer camp possible for my kids for this summer.

OK... the best summer camp for my kids that I can afford.

Of course I immediately start looking at the most expensive camps, rationalizing to myself that I don't want my kids hanging out for a week with the next generation of thugs, but then I had to think:

a) I'm not a thug and I can't afford the expensive camp


b) thugs probably don't take the time, effort and money to send their baby thugs to summer camp.

First I looked at Kanakuk... the holy grail of summer camps. Whoa. I could not afford to send one kid there, much less five. Much as I would like to go there myself, this one was marked off relatively quick.

Move on to Camp Wakonda. It sounds fun too. Low ropes, archery, nature hikes, biking, swimming, Mole Run (I don't even want to know what this is), outdoor overnight, zip line, tribe...

Third choice... Camp Lakewood. Scavenger hunts, archery, kayaking, high and low ropes, trail rides, swimming, arts and crafts, overnight adventure, zip lines, windsurfing, and way too many to list.

So what do you guys think? Does anyone else know a great summer camp?

Camp Renewal. That's it. It just came to me. That was me circa 1983? I wonder if there's a facebook reunion group for Camp Renewal 1983... I should look.

And off onto another random thought I run.



Melissa said...

Why don't you do Barnabas again? Your kids can still go for free.

♥~Gina~♥ said...

Great post! I have also often thought of Summer Camp for my kids. They've never gotten to go, nor did I as a child. I wanted that experience and I would love for them to have it as well, before it's too late. But I'm also with you in the cost department. Sheeze. I can barely afford for them to spend a weekend, much less a week or two. Ouch.

ellerbee eight said...

Because Melissa, then I'd have to go with them... ha

BoufMom9 said...

Not even sure how I just found your blog, but glad I did ;)

My boys have gone to Boy Scout Camp, but that's it. I think back on camp the same way you just did and wish I had the money to send my children. They all should be so lucky to experience it.
Hope you figure something out that will work for you!

Melissa said...

Too stinking funny Gina!!!! I couldn't agree more hahahahahaha

Jordan said...

I was pretty into Wakonda. And although it's not an overnight camping camp, there's still Summer Quest. I know that both Scape and DLA had scholarships, so Quest probably has those as well.