As I sit here writing this my legs are aching and my arms feel like they may fall off if I lift them above my head. My body is shouting at me just a little. It's telling me that I'm old and out of shape (it's right). It's also reminding me that I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and that is actually quite a good thing. It is also reminding me that sometimes I don't "HATE" the things that I thought I hated.
Last month Gracie came home excited, "Our class gets to go to a camp for our class trip this year! I told our teacher that you'd come!" Her little face was flushed with excitement. I smiled and acted excited, but inside I was cringing... I am not an outdoorsy girl. Growing up my family loved to be outside. They would all be outside from practically dust to dawn, and expected me too also, oh and to enjoy it. I would have rather been inside reading a book, writing a story, watching t.v., doing practically anything other than being outside. For years I wondered if I was adopted, it would have explained so much, and yet all I had to do to find the proof of my birth, was to look in the mirror. When I became an adult I could make decisions for myself. I chose not to be in nature. For me it is a treat to go to a nice hotel and live like the other people live. I would rather be shopping, be watching a good movie, be almost anywhere but outside. Inwardly I cringed at the idea of camp, but outwardly I gave my best actress performance.
Each day Gracie would come home excitedly giving me more information about our trip. "It's light's out at 10:00 Mom!" "We are all going for a polar plunge at 7:00 a.m." "Carly and Abby say the cabins aren't all that clean so we will want to bring something to cover the mattress." I am a bit of a germaphobe. I am a terrible housekeeper, and I'm o.k. with that because those are "our" germs. I literally get the heeby geebies thinking about dirty things. I mentally made a note to myself to bring a can of Lysol disinfectant spray.
The night before the big trip I made lists of what I needed to pack. We needed our clothes, jackets, sweaters, bug spray, sunscreen, magazines, snacks, the portable dvd player (for me)..... Could I do this? I mean we take the kids camping, and I enjoy that. I kept reminding myself that this would be a great experience. The next morning Grace and I loaded up the van and went to the school to pick up the other kids... it had already begun to rain.
We pulled into the camp, the kids in the back seat all excitedly making noise. We parked the car and were told which cabin was ours. I walked through the cabin doors and wanted to run back out. I knew that we would be roughing it, but I had no idea. It looked like someone's old decrepit barn. I began to make up reasons why I could go home that would seem convincing. "I will never sleep tonight!" I thought while my body convulsed with revulsion. I pulled out my can of Lysol and began to uber spray my mattress, the wall (I use the term wall loosely), the floor, my mattress again. I then repeated the process with Grace's area. My friend who just happens to be the mom of one of Grace's friends borrowed the can to do the same for her areas.
It rained the whole day. We set about our activities, rain be darned. We did team building activities, and the kids who wanted to could to the high ropes activities. When we were done we all headed back to our cabins, everyone soaking wet to the bone. I had meant to pack some games but had forgotten. Luckily this camp was pretty close to home. I told my friend that I was going home to pick up some games. I hopped in the car and headed for home. I got lost several times, but eventually made it there (have I ever shared that I have absolutely no sense of direction). I arrived home and met my surprised looking husband. "I'm here for games, oh and a shower, a glorious hot shower.... can you put my hoodie in the dryer for me?" I am not sure if a shower has ever felt so good. I literally stood there moaning in pleasure. I could feel my skin again!" I dried off, found games and kissed my husband like I was going off to war and may never see him again (the thought crossed through my head ... what it the raccoons and bats teamed up to eat me). I headed back for camp, but not before making a trip to Tim Hortons! I got myself a delicious hot coffee and picked up some for the other parents. Coffee for grown ups is like candy for kids. If you want someone to be your best friend.... bring coffee!
After dinner it was free time. We set up the games and the kids were having fun. I had brought nail polish with us. Julie (Grace's friend's Mom) and I set up a little nail salon at the dining hall. A stream of little girls made their way over giving us their nail requests. Camo nails were the most popular request. Even some of the moms and teachers came over for fancy nails, looking sheepishly, but still putting out their nails to be fancied up. After a little while one of the boys came over "Can I get just one nail done?" He looked embarrassed, and yet determined. We did one nail. Shortly after that we had a line of boys for nail polish. It was pretty funny. Still the rain continued.
After free time it was time for the camp fire. I am not sure what magic that they used in the rain to keep that fire going, but go it did. The kids all went out, not seeming to notice the rain. I stood under an overhang on the deck of the dining hall. I wasn't going down there, I was already wet! I stood there watching them, none of them seemed to notice that they were soaked to the skin. I sucked it up and put on my big girl pants, I walked out from under the overhang and down to the campfire. Some of the kid's parents had braved the rain and driven over for the campfire. I stood enjoying talking to them, I began to stop noticing that I was wet. Children ran around with Smores ingredients excitedly showing their parents their amazing creations. A smile made it's way to my water soaked lips. Some of the camp councilors made their way outside with guitars and began a sing-a-long. I forgot about the rain and allowed myself to be in the moment, to just watch my child's face and take joy in her joy.
After the campfire we all made our way to our cabins... it was dreaded bedtime. I stepped into the hydroless cabin, and the waves of repulsion came over me again... I would NEVER be able to sleep in this disgusting place. Julie and I got the kids all snug in their sleeping bags. She climbed over to my bunk and we nestled under a blanket, ate snacks and read magazines by flashlight and giggled. It was like we were 12 again, just like the girls in our cabin. It was fun. Around 11:00 we declared the cabin was now a lights out zone (all except for the battery operated night light that I had brought from home). I lay there, fearing a bat flying into my face, but none did. The little girl beside me, I'm pretty sure had sleep apnea. She would snore, stop then gasp, and then snore again... I was never going to sleep. The girl in the bunk above me kept making annoying little moany noises, no I would not sleep tonight, I would just have to be exhausted. Somewhere in between the snoring gasps and the moany sounds I drifted off. The next thing I knew it was morning... I HAD SURVIVED! I lay there warm and toasty under my covers, the outside air freezing. Shortly after Julie came in, coffee in hand. One of the blessed parents had made a Tim Horton's run early that morning and had brought back a box of coffee to share! That person instantly became my best friend. Julie handed me that glorious coffee "I love you" escaped my lips, even I was unsure if I was saying it to Julie or to the beloved coffee in her little hand. Maybe I could get through this!
At breakfast the parents all sat together and acted very much like the children that we were there to chaperone... in other words we were all having fun. We ate our breakfast and compared horror stories from the night before (the men won hands down... that is all I am saying about that). We all ate and laughed and then made our way for the days adventure that lay ahead. Through the night the lashing rain had subsided and become a mere drizzle.
Our first activity was a canoe ride. The canoe was HUGE. All 16 of us fit in perfectly. I thought that I was so smart sitting at the back, that is until we had to get out, but that story is still to come. I love to canoe, I stink at it, but I love it. The little girls in front of me couldn't quite get the hang of the rowing. I kept shoving my oar in where I could find a space. At one point the camp councilor began to shout out "stroke, stroke" which was better than the "Oh E Oh, Ohhhhh O, Oh E oh, OHHHHHHHH" that I was shouting in my head. We paddled up to an island, the kids were so excited for our adventure. We pulled up and exited the canoe, single file. There were a few times that I thought I would tip the canoe... but I didn't. We excitedly explored the island.
I think that there is a slight that chance that our nature excited camp councilor may have been smoking crack. He lead us up a rock face. I immediately began to make jokes about how exciting it would be for the kids to watch the air ambulance pick up Mrs. Lindsay. I also may have mentioned the fun ghost stories that the later campers could share about my death. I got up the cliff face with limited difficulty, coming down was a different tale. I was coming down the rock that seemed like it had been soaked in cooking oil when I lost my footing. I grabbed for the pine tree (thank God it was there). I swung not unlike a senior citizen Tarzan. The Dad in our group just stood laughing at my hysterically, and Julie was so horror stricken that all she could do was watch in horror. Eventually I let go of the pine tree, and fell. It seemed like it would be a hundred foot plunge, but the reality was more like a few inches. I survived the island!!!!!!
After the canoe ride we made our way over to the rock wall. I was looking forward to the rock wall. I am afraid of heights, but Christopher and I had done a trip to an indoor rock climbing wall a few years back for our anniversary. We loved it. I was surprised that I could do it! We approached the large looming rock wall. Grace's face changed from excitement to fear. "It will be so much fun. It's good to do things that scare you!" I told her. She decided to give it a try. I coached all the kids. "Rock climbing is about pushing with your legs, not pulling with your arms. You just use your arms to keep your balance". I sounded like a know it all expert. Grace took her turn. She was so afraid, but she did it, I was so proud of her. Then came my turn. I had acted so confident, like I knew what I was doing. Did I mention that it was raining? I suited up in the climbing gear, ready. I took one step onto the first rock, and slid. I landed on my butt. I tried a few more times and gave up. It is something that would have made my family a lot of money on America's Funniest Home Videos if only someone had thought to video tape me.
At the end of the day, it was a fun trip. It was a school trip that Gracie will remember for the rest of her life. Turns out I like nature more than I thought that I did. It also turns out that the hot shower may very well be my best friend. When we got home I left everything in the van and took a glorious one hour shower (ok maybe I'm exaggerating). I'm glad it's done, but I'm glad that I did it.