Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

A bit on the nose after camp! September 23, 2011

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socksThe men-children returned from camp on Tuesday after five blissfully quiet days without them.  We almost didn’t know what to do at night while they were gone – there were no arguments over the dinner table, no demands about homework, no screaming to pick up stuff or begging for help at home.   Father of a Man-Child and I even enjoyed several long, uninterrupted conversations (it’s been a while), and Sister of a Man-Child was simply in heaven (as you would be being an only child for a few days with the undivided attention of your parents).

If you didn’t hear the men-children soon after they arrived home, you could definitely SMELL them!!!  Pity Father of a Man-Child who had to collect both boys (of course they didn’t arrive home together or leave together – the joys of twins) and endure them in close proximity for the short trip home.  Trust me they absolutely stank; I imagine his car will carry the odour for weeks.

By the time I saw them both at home they had showered thankfully, probably for a good 30 mins each, and fair enough too.  My only sample of the smell of boys after five days of camping was the clothing that came down for a wash, the sleeping bags that needed airing and/or washing, and the socks and boots that were so vile they had to spend the night outside because they could stink out an entire room in seconds.  It really was a very rude shock to the olfactory senses.

Man-Child I did change his jocks on occasion although he didn’t shower at all on camp.  And Man-Child II (and all other cadets apparently) simply wore their cadet uniforms for the whole five days.  So naturally, since they didn’t shower, they didn’t bother changing their jocks or socks either……..gross!!!  Perhaps I should just throw those ones out?

Both of the boys came home thoroughly exhausted, but having really enjoyed the challenges of their respective camps.  That would be with the exception of the last night, during which they both endured gale force winds and driving rain.  It was actually so bad on Cadet Camp they had to abandon the camping ground at 10pm at night and all hike back to the barracks, where they got to sleep in dorms (relative luxury), without bedding though, as that had all been left at the site.  Thankfully the school put the boys’ safety first – strong winds in a camping ground full of large trees being a recipe for disaster.   Man-Child I also endured a close encounter with a leech one night in his sleeping bag – ewww.  Nasty little suckers!

Whilst they both survived on the food (army rations and dehydrated noodle meals for the most part), they were certainly thankful for the large steak we served up to them upon their arrival home.  Nothing like a few days camping to appreciate a home cooked meal, a nice warm bed, a hot shower and a toilet that’s not a long drop. J

As for the parents who chose to let their boys stay home and not attend camp – far too soft!!!  This is the stuff that turns boys into men – the adventures that shape them and make them realise they can survive, and that they are stronger and more resilient than they might otherwise believe.  Good old-fashioned male bonding – bring it on.

PS.  Off on holidays next week – so forgive me if I don’t post a regular update.  Am seriously considering going away without a laptop and am too busy to have prepared anything in advance.  Sorry folks.

Read about pre-camp preparations here: Man-Child Free For Five Days – Woohoo!  


Mother of a Man-Child: Freezing on Cadet camp! July 8, 2011

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coldLast week Man-Child II headed off on his Cadet Bivouac, in the midst of a Melbourne winter, with only the bare essentials in his pack, in true army-camp style.  When I say bare essentials, I mean the minimum stuff he needed, compiled at the last-minute by Man-Child II, who resisted taking the recommended clothing allowance for extra warmth (as always).  He’s a man-child after all – bred tough, lacking logic, not open to parental advice – perfectly normal really.

When he arrived home my first question was “So how was it?”  The response:  “Good, but it was FREEZING!”  At this point I resisted the urge to run around the house yelling “I told you so” and simply asked (without a hint of smugness I swear) if in retrospect he thought the beanie and gloves and extra jumper would have been useful after all?  To my surprise he actually admitted that yes, it would have helped.

First up, they slept in Hutchies – quite literally under a light-weight canvas tarp that probably does nothing except reduce the amount of condensation that settles on those beneath it.  As Man-Child II indignantly pointed out to me, it didn’t keep the wind out at all!  Nope, it wouldn’t, and we had told our “seasoned” cadet what his “tent” would resemble on camp and he clearly hadn’t listened.  Otherwise he might have understood why we were encouraging the extra layers for warmth.

As it turns out, our son was not alone.  The entire cadet camp almost froze in the near zero conditions on both nights (at least it didn’t rain).  They all resorted to wearing every piece of clothing they had, including army uniform, Japara, and even wrapped towels around their heads under closed sleeping bag hoods, leaving only a slit for they eyes/nose.  And they STILL froze.   Yep, I guess that beanie and extra jumper and gloves and good Explorer socks (not useless thin sports socks) would have come in handy after all.  In retrospect I admit we actually should have given him a warmer sleeping bag.  The one he has is a good quality one, very warm, but really you need the ones that keep you warm in the snow-line when you’re out in the elements like this.  Isn’t hindsight wonderful!

Apart from the cold, he survived leeches (yuk), night-time forest challenges, rifle training and army ration food.  I asked how the food was, he said you would probably get used to powdered milk on your cereal and mushy stew for dinner – everything tastes OK when you’re hungry.  But a few days later when I offered him some tasty curry for dinner he said he’d had enough of “stews” for a little while yet.  At least he’d had access to a stove on camp (having forgotten to collect one in advance) so he hadn’t had to eat cold stew and uncooked noodles – LOL.

So the moral to the story – men-children don’t listen.  Like countless adolescents before them, including yours truly, they learn best through experience, certainly not by being told by an adult what is good for them.  That’s part of the fun of growing up I suppose, and part of the fun of being an adult and watching them work it all out for themselves. 🙂

Here’s the lead up to camp:  Camping Man-Child Style!



Mother of a Man-Child: Camping Man-Child Style! July 1, 2011

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hutchieOne of my men-children is off to school Cadet camp this week for two nights roughing it in the cold winter of Melbourne.  If he comes home with frostbite it’s not my fault!  All my best nagging and attempts to organize him failed dismally – clearly he doesn’t take after me – the most organized person my friends know!

The camp is a Bivouac – so called because it refers to a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters.  That means Man-Child II is sleeping in a Hutchie (see pic) – which is very, very basic accommodation and clearly doesn’t lend itself to warmth, and also cooking his own meals from specially prepared cadet ration packs (yum?).

Naturally the Cadets (who are officially a part of the Australian Army) are a well oiled machine – we’ve had instructions sitting at home for at least a month outlining all the details of the camp and what was required of the attending boys.  Naturally Man-Child II, aka Mr Last Minute, did absolutely nothing about the camp until the day before.  I must admit I didn’t come across the notes until the end of the weekend, and then went into a state of mild panic since he only had three days to get organized.

And so Mr Last Minute went to the “cadet store” at school the day before camp to pick up what he needed (apparently).  That of course was exactly one week after the deadline for them to pick up their equipment – he assures me the place was full of boys on the day he went – I shouldn’t be surprised.

That night, after much hyperventilation by Mother of a Man-Child, we finally went through the list and the questions started……”What’s a C-H-U-X, I need one of them” (yep, a dish-cloth, clearly far too foreign to Man-Child).  “And what about a S-C-O-U-R-E-R?”  See first point!   I felt panic coming on when he asked me if we had a Hexamine Stove!  What??!!  Oh yes, of course, let me just pull that out of the cupboard that contains all the camping equipment this non-camping family have!  He was supposed to get it from the cadet store – whoops.  Guess he’ll be enjoying uncooked two-minute noodles for lunch and cold beef & vegie stew for dinner.  Unless he can borrow someone else’s stove.  Really I could have clocked him one.

They sleep in a Hutchie on the Bivouac – yep, under a canvas tent sheet basically.  At camp they are given the hutchie, sleeping mat and cords.  It was only through us cross-checking the list we discovered he hadn’t collected the tent pegs – a vital component if the picture is accurate.   Luckily I found some tent pegs in the kids play tents that will probably do the trick.  Either that or he’ll be sleeping cloaked in a canvas sheet.

And then we came to the clothing to pack.  For good reason they don’t take much as they have to carry everything in their pack.  But they were given a list of essential clothing to take with them, including beanies and gloves because it’s going to be sub four degrees overnight – especially with these beautiful blue-sky days.  So we tried to explain the need for a beanied head to retain heat, a track suit to provide extra layers, and thick Explorer socks for your feet, even in the worlds warmest sleeping bag, because it will be DAMN cold.  But no, our very own Solo man wouldn’t take a jumper to sleep in – a t-shirt will be fine.  I guess if he’s desperate he’ll just have to sleep in his army uniform!!

I am sure Man-Child II will thoroughly enjoy the camp.  Who wouldn’t relish some time in the great outdoors, hiking, training, bonding, whilst soaking up the cool, crisp, warmish winter days.  If per chance he does freeze his arse off, I’m sure he’ll never admit it to me.  Maybe Father of a Man-Child will have to do the scouting on this one.  And let’s just hope it doesn’t end the same way as the last school camp he attended (see the post below for more about that).