Roughing It

2 June 2001

I'd like to take a survey. Anybody who thinks it's reasonable to send someone (like, say, the President's daughter -- but anyone, really, that's just an example) to jail as an adult for drinking underage, please e-mail me. Oof.

Hey, Karina, I know you're busy going to Clarion and all, but do you think there's any room for me up there? Socialized medicine is looking like less of a burden. I'd be very quiet, and I hardly take up any room.

In other news, I've got an essay up at Skirt! magazine. I titled it "Mom Vs. Camp Sparta." They changed the title to "Camp Sparta." This is okay, I guess, I just wish they'd told me first. If you go read it, I think you'll have a good idea of where I get some of my soapboxes.

The follow-up to my Camp Sparta story is my church camp story. In case you choose not to read the link, to recap: I hated Girl Scout camp. I really hated the camping part of it. Okay. So my friend Gina went to church camp the summer after fourth grade. She loved it. She told me it was way better than Girl Scout camp. She told me it was a million times more fun. An experience not to be missed. Etc. Way better than Girl Scout camp? I asked her. Way better, she assured me. Practically not the same thing at all.

I was moving to Kansas the summer after fifth grade, so I wanted one last cool thing with Gina. So I said, sure, let's go to church camp together. And Gina was right, it was practically not the same thing at all. In some ways it was better. Oddly enough, church camp was much less preachy than Scout camp. We had to go to devotions at night, but that mostly involved singing perky songs that were peripherally about Jesus or Moses or Joseph or somebody like that. And we all prayed together, but we all prayed together at Scout camp, too. At Scout camp we were told that bugs were God's creatures, too, and we were not to squoosh them; at church camp, it was implied if not clearly stated that God had a lot of bugs and maybe wouldn't mind getting one or two of them back. So that was all good.

But in some ways it was worse than Scout camp. We slept in tents all week. In my family, roughing it means that your hotel has an outdoor pool, and you go down to the restaurant for breakfast instead of eating it in your room. Showers are not optional. But at church camp, everything was outside, you swam in a lake with algae at least an inch thick, and your group had to schedule a shower in the daily activities. If everyone else voted not to shower between 8:00 a.m. one day and 10:30 p.m. the next, well, you stank, and that was that. It was a democracy, not like Scout camp -- but I didn't really want to be instructed to go for a midnight swim in the algae-thickened lake. I didn't care if it was my peers or my counselors who were doing the instructing.

So I went home from church camp, too. I calmly went to my counselor and told her that I wanted to go home, that my mom had said I could call, and that I was ready to do so. She started crying. I was 10. She was in college. She moaned that she was a failure. I sat in the tent with her and patted her shoulder and told her it was okay, that it wasn't her fault, and some of us just weren't cut out to be camp people. She snuffled and said, "Really?" I said, "Yeah. You're a great counselor. All of the other girls are having a fabulous time. Really, it's not you. It's just me. It'll be okay. You'll have a great rest of the week, and I'll go home and play the piano a lot and enjoy myself, too."

She blinked at me and said, "How old are you, again? Thirty?"

So that was my last Camp experience. If I'd stayed in Omaha for sixth grade, I would have been forced into Outdoor Ed, a three-day camp experience with my classmates. But such bliss was denied me. In Kansas, outdoor education took the form of a day-long ski trip in Missouri. Oh woe. Alack.

I have so much more to say in here, but I want to get some more work done, and there are some themes (not related to current close friendships, nobody worry) I want to deal with but am not sure how to deal with. So we'll see how they come out in my head, and I may post again later today. Or else I'll get around to it tomorrow. You'll figure it out.

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