I’ve officially proved that I can pass for a fifteen-year old. Two separate groups of kids told me they thought I was a camper, not a leader. Mwa ha ha ha!
It went pretty well. I must say, it’s just as awesome to be there as a leader as it is to be there as a camper. Maybe even better since as a leader I didn’t need to wait for anyone else to take me to the flush toilets. (We had a latrine.)
Camping in tents was new for me; when I was a camper, we always had cabins. I always longed to do it “for real” in tents; now having done both I heartily support cabins! They make set-up much easier for one thing and for another, they make bad weather much more bearable. I like tents just fine; it’s just that I think they’re better for a family outing than for housing 50+ people. Let me tell you, I have an all-new respect for the pioneers who did pretty much the same thing but on the move and for months at a time, not just five days.
We camped at a conservation area near Guelph, Ontario. It had everything! Beautiful trees, a river that ran right smack behind our campsite and a beach! The only swimming I had at camp was this old, scummy man-made pond; by the second year at that site the leaders didn’t even bother with swimming time. Here we had canoing and paddle-boating too. There were islands all over the place, little caves, cliffs and inlets to explore. It was paradise — until the last day, when they closed the beach due to unsafe bacterial levels in the water. They didn’t make a big deal of it or herd people out of the water so it can’t be too bad but still, it’s not very confidence inspiring.
They didn’t do hikes the way I’m used to. Instead of each year going on separate hikes of different durations, everyone went at once and it only lasted a couple of hours. On the one hand, this is much easier on everyone and that was something of a relief. On the other hand, less rigorous seems less character-building or something.
Because of bad weather or delays (herding teenage girls is about as useful as herding ferrets) we had to cut out some games but on Friday we did this awesome Adventure game and I got to play too. I successfully faked my way into a half-hitch knot at the first task. That was very cool.
The only fly in the ointment was the “night hike.” I can remember one being planned one year I was at camp myself and the leaders scotched it. I was very disappointed; I thought the idea of hiking at night was awesome. Now I understand why they killed it.
They started off by having one of the priesthood leaders tell a scary story about his first “snipe hunt.” He claimed that it had really happened to him; I thought his acting was far from convincing but some of the other leaders said later — among each other, with no kids around — that he’d frightened them.
Then they had the girls leave their flashlights, gather in groups of three and took them off. I joined up with two of the girls, one of whom was very scared. I’ll call her “J.” They did the usual shtick of having other girls hiding in the underbrush making scary noises and jumping out. Once that was over, the Assistant Director gathered everyone around her. She asked if anyone was scared. J — who had a death grip not only on her friend’s hand but on mine as well — raised her hand. The Assistant Director then proceeded to tell another scary story using J’s name for the protagonist.
I don’t have anything against scary stories at camp. They’re as traditional as marshmallows. I’m not personally into horror but I realize that some people enjoy the scare. However, I really don’t like how this was handled. The night hike was mandatory; they didn’t let any girls stay behind. Then, when they were a captive audience, this creepy story was told. Go ahead and tell scary stories but it’s not fair to force others to listen. If you enjoy them knock yourself out but not everyone can turn their brains off afterward. I feel that, as leaders, it’s our job to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen and I’m upset that I was made a part of it.
I told them my feelings on the subject later so hopefully this won’t happen again.
As for the baking contest I mentioned earlier: we won second place! Woot! Yes, Applesauce Gingerbread rocked the judges socks. We lost to Pineapple Upside-down Cake.
July 9, 2007