We are back from family camp, which is just what it sounds like. The entire family goes together, stays in a cabin, and makes tie-dyes. It was just like overnight camp when I was thirteen, except this time I didn’t have to worry about who would sit with me in the dining hall and I wasn’t trying to impress the boys with my lanyard abilities. Oh, and I had two small children with me.
The bad parts? No plumbing in the cabins, which meant we had to use communal baths. Not so bad on paper, as they were only a minute or so walk away. Except that walk was UPHILL. Because we were IN THE MOUNTAINS. Hard to scale the side of a mountain while holding a full potty that I needed to empty because my kids had used it in the night (and maybe once or twice, me too, but I ain’t talkin’.) To make matters worse, the shared bathhouse close to us had some serious plumbing issues and smelled of excrement at all times. So, usually, I used the one a four-minute walk away. Not so bad unless you are seven months pregnant.
Also, there seem to be a few things that make it hard to breathe. Asthma and pregnancy are two. Check. Add to that altitude of 7000 feet and, well, I was using my inhaler a lot. Like every time I had to walk up the side of the cliff to get to the bathroom.
And, Zachary pretty much ate white bread for a week straight. Benjamin, on the other hand, was tickled pink at the fact that there was fruit and meat available at every meal. The adults in the party? We left gasping for tofu by the end of the week.
Sleep was a challenge. The kids were so wired by their days and so freaked out by the change of sleeping quarters that they woke up in the night and had a hard time going to sleep. I spent a lot of time sleeping with my kids, the highlight being the last night where I was flanked on one side by a four-year-old and the other side by a two-year-old. The thirty-three-year-old I prefer to share the bed with had given up and moved to a bunk bed.
Finally, there was a lot more dust than I remember from camp as a child. That just may have to do with the fact that there was rain in the New England summer camps I attended, while not so much in Sequoia National Park. Our feet were dirty for a week straight. Well, mostly mine. Everyone else can actually reach their feet and was able to wear sneakers.
The good parts? The kids were in activities all day long. And, after the first day or so, they loved it. They did not want to be out of their group. So, we would drop them off at 9:15 and return to the cabin for a nap. I could have napped till noon, but inevitably I woke up needing to pee, and by the time I had hiked to the bathrooms, I was awake.
The boys got some fantastic bonding time with their grandparents, especially Zachary with his grandmother. She did arts and crafts with him every day (plus the work he did in his group), which means we left with the following booty: three plastic bottles filled with colored sand, one piggy bank, four beaded necklaces, two tie-dyes, three paintings, one picture frame, and one decorated box, not to mention the necklace I made for Zachary and the remnants of the necklace I made for Benjamin. Because the grandparents were there, the boys had a lot of really nice time with them.
The boys had fantastic bonding time with their father. Although they were in group all day, he was there for every meal, for naptimes, for bedtime, etc. Given that he is now leaving town for a week, it was well-timed. They stopped getting that desperate, starving-for-daddy look on their faces every time they saw him.
The boys had less bonding time with me, which meant I had excellent bonding time with Edith Wharton.
I got to see my husband. ‘Nuff said.
I did not do many activities, because a six-mile hike uphill seemed unreasonable in my current state of pregnancy, but I got to hear about the hikes my father-in-law did. And J took Zach on a canoe ride while I took Benjamin to the pool. And I watched the boys play by the edge of the lake. And we led the boys on a pony ride. (It was less idyllic than it sounds. We had a nice time leading Benjamin on his pony; my in-laws, three horses back, spent the entire 45 minutes listening to Zachary whine about the fact that he got a horse while his brother got the pony he wanted.)
There was spotty internet access and no cell phone access. I count that as a bonus, but the two members of our party who needed to work would probably classify it differently.
And so, we are back. We are hanging pictures and finishing unpacking and Zach is starting day camp and J is leaving town and the boys are sleeping right again and we are all a little more unwound than we were. I think most of our party had a nice time but is glad to get back to civilization.
And me? I think that, despite the fact that no one has ever confused me with that guy who went to live with the bears, I am an outdoors kinda girl. Because back here, among the more comfortable beds and the indoor plumbing and the heart-healthy food, I miss the stars and the trees. I miss the cold nights and the clear mornings. I miss sleeping with the windows open and knowing that the only thing on the other side of the screen is a large deer.
I do not, however, miss the stench from the bathhouse.