It’s that time of year again – when schools arrange for the kids to head off on various camps, just ahead of the school holidays. As so little academic work really gets done in the last week of every term (let’s be honest), it makes a lot of sense to me.
So it is that the men-children have headed off on yet another camp. We have had outdoor education camps, cadet camps, rowing camps, well-being camps and summer camps amongst others. Each camp challenging, enjoyable, and contributing to the boys’ sense of independence, sense of self and maturity.
This camp is for their selected outdoor activity. With so many activities on offer, there are a large number of camps throughout the year with small groups of boys. So out of all the activities and all the camps, my two somehow end up on the same camp of just 12 boys kayaking. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic they are kayaking – it’s a challenging sport, and as rowers they seem to be very well suited to it. They love the physical challenge of the rapids and of course the camping in the bush. But how is it that out of 250 boys, the men-children again find themselves thrown together. When I discovered they were both on the camp together, I did have a chuckle, and asked if they were planning on sharing a tent? (Trust me, they would rather each endure frostbite than share a tent together).
So apart from establishing that they had organised very quickly their respective tent buddies, they were then left to sort all the gear out themselves. Being teenage boys, it took several nights of nagging to finally get them to THINK about what they needed and do some advance planning/organising. Along with several threats of “I won’t be driving around the night before you go, picking up camping gear or shopping for you” (mmm, hold that thought)!
True to form, one was pretty organised, prompting me to go shopping, equipped with his list, booking camping stoves, borrowing gear, etc. His brother was the exact opposite, having lost his list the day he was given it, and forever after blaming everyone else for “throwing it out”. My guess is he finally found it buried under the pile of shit that’s been living on his bedroom floor for the last few weeks, and which I insisted he clean up before heading away for four days (under threat that I would otherwise throw every last bit of it out) but he’s not going to admit that is he?
When it was suggested he who lets everyone else worry for him, and organise him, actually pick up the camp stoves after school the day before camp, he made a million excuses. Suddenly he was very busy with a haircut and even a detention! Simple answer to that – either you pick up the stoves or don’t bother going on the camp! Guess what – he managed to leave school early (not happy), suddenly having no detentions, and picked up the stoves. A minor victory! Short-lived, as we then endured the morning of departure with him still running around packing last minute items including cutlery and plates (generally useful when camping) and a double bed sheet. Most people would take a sleeping bag and camp mattress. No, this man-child convinced the camp leader that he could bring the double mattress from the fold-up couch to place inside the tent for him and his camping buddy – with every intention of living in relative luxury for four days. Amazing!
As for the food supplies it was the usual boy camp food. Tinned tuna, tinned chicken, bread, dehydrated pasta and rice meals, cereal and milk powder, along with snacks and a slab of Sunkist. One was literally happy to live on 2 minute noodles with virtually no protein at all, but I convinced him that wasn’t going to sustain him for long with the physical exercise he was planning during the camp.
So camping they are. Enjoying the great outdoors, doing without the luxuries of home, no shower for four days, a basic drop toilet, no electricity, no TV, internet, Facebook or mobile phones. Back to nature, bonding with mates (even one’s twin brother?), learning to kayak the wildest rapids, and having an absolute ball.
Having seen my men-children enjoy their camps so much every year, I wish they had actually attended a school that included at least a term or a year off-campus at a separate rural facility. I really believe it is good for adolescents to have some time away from home, and to learn basic life skills and self-sufficiency. Somewhere their mother can’t do everything for them, and molly-coddle them (okay, I admit it). Speaking of which, I just remembered that I didn’t remind either of them to take loo paper for the drop toilet. Oh well, they will just have to borrow some or go without! A good lesson for all of us. 🙂