Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Camping is not a good thing

Two truths. Camping is for bad people. Summer camp is not fun.

 People who like camping are nuts and I don’t get it. Why spend thousands of dollars on camping gear and tents and hibachis and bug spray just to sleep on the ground and feel sick. It is not fun. I don’t need to drive to a crowded parking lot next to a spindly forest to sit in a lawn chair.  I can sit in a lawn chair at home.

People who do not like camping:

People who like camping and think it's fun:

My brother loves camping. He's not totally evil. But kinda.

He lives for camping and the outdoors, generally. He is the only camper in our family. The rest of us just look at him with pleasant, bemused expressions, like he’s some sort of natural oddity, like an interesting mushroom, or a chicken with two heads. I guess the difference between he and I is that he had good early experiences with camping and I did not, and thus our opinions on the matter varied.

My first experience with camping, other than a sleepover in Pam Stewart’s parents’ trailer tent parked in their driveway, would have been Bible Camp in Arnes, Manitoba.  

Me, the year of Bible camp.

My family were active in the church, but were never particularly Jesus-y, so sending their daughter to a Bible camp was not their first choice. But it was the only option within driving distance, so off I went. My parents told me that if they asked me if I’d been saved, I was to just say “Yes” otherwise they’d make me stand up and say a bunch of confusing stuff and give me a new birthday.

I didn’t make friends with the other girls in my cabin – I think because I was fat and awkward. Those were the reasons. In that order. Stupid Jesus-y girls. They will burn in Hell. Me too. But for different reasons. I will totally snub them in Hell.

Anyway, I always had to be paired up with the counselor. Her name was Esther. I clung to her like a deer tick the whole week. Wherever you are, Esther, thank you!

We did crafts and archery and canoeing and (mortifying) races and a lot of skits and hymns and church services in the morning.  I was not having a lot of fun, I don’t think. But, I was stoic. I assumed it was one of those things that kids had to endure, like playing baseball or listening to your parents’ choice of music on long car trips (I still get a little car sick whenever I hear Mantovani)

My next foray in camping would have been in grade 6 when our teacher, Miss Goodman took our class camping at Hecla Island. Miss Goodman was a fresh teachers’ college grad and we tormented her. I ate too many Bugles and felt sick for hours. It was unseasonably cold. The ground was, like tundra, harder than regular ground. Campground toilets full of fish flies and broken bottles. Mosquitoes and black flies. Bland games that were suggestions from books written in the 1950’s. I think I must have had at least some fun because there were boys there that I had crushes on, though they weren’t interested in me. And there were also marshmallows. Two of my favourite things in one tedious weekend. But still. It was camping. Eww.

I think Miss Goodman was badly shaken by her experiences on that trip and left teaching soon thereafter. I’m sorry Miss Goodman. You were a nice person. You need nerves of steel to work with 11-year-old boys. What were you thinking?

My last stab at camp was two separate weeks one summer at the International Peace Gardens Camp. One week I went to Band Camp (tenor saxophone) and the other I went to speech and debate camp on a “scholarship” from the Selkirk IODE Ladies club. This camp was a bit better because we slept in actual dorms and our schedule was highly structured, so there was little time for me to display my social ineptitude.

There were actual real talented kids at this camp. I was shocked to be assigned  ‘third chair, last seat” in the tenor saxophones. I could barely read music, but faked my way through the week somehow. We had a couple private lessons included in the week. I can’t recall being particularly impressive.

One thing I did do better at this time was meeting people. I had vowed to be better than the Jesus-y girls at Camp Arnes and did my best to make friends with EVERYONE. There was one lonely looking girl and I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Her face lit up and she said “My name’s Becky Fitch”. I choked when I heard the name, but turned it into a cough. I really hope she was fooled. She latched on to me the whole week, and I remember thinking, unkindly, that I wished I could “upgrade” to a more interesting friend. Again, I will burn in hell and Becky Fitch will snub me. I am no better than the Jesus-y girls. Good thing her nick-name wasn’t Bucky. 

me and Becky Fitch

There was one really pretty girl there, (there’s always one that stands out and she knows she is the beacon and allows the rest to pay homage while she holds court like a Fairy Queen). I didn’t talk to her until the last day when we happened to be in the same spot waiting for our parents to pick us up. When we said our polite goodbyes, she gave a big smile and she had the hugest gums and smallest teeth I’d ever seen. Freakishly out of proportion. My heart leapt.

I’m so happy that I’ll never have to go to camp ever again. Even though I am somewhat more skilled socially than I was as a pre-teen, I think sleeping in the same room with 30 strangers is something to which I can say, “Done that”.  Unless I join a crazy religious sex-based cult. Or go to prison. Or hell.


  1. That's why we have summer cottages: so we can camp indoors and hide in a corner and read, if that's what we feel like doing. I don't feel too guilty -- we were just trying to give you more experiences and choices. I agree: camping is not for you and me!

  2. I blame you for everything bad that ever happened to me ever. And for my big feet.

  3. International Peace Gardens Band Camp!!!!!

  4. Ellen, If you put *bad witches* in the category of People who like camping and think it's fun:...If memory serves me correct, you should put them in the other category! lol

  5. I went to French Camp one summer. We are not French. I was too young to ask WTF... Every afternoon we had to line up and say (in French) "May I have a cookie and milk, please". If you goofed up you had to go back in the line and try again. Needless-to-say, I didn't get any cookies and milk all summer. I don't like camp.

  6. YerEverLuvvinBrudder Writes:
    My 1st camping trip was a canoe trip @ Camp Stevens. Rained for 3 days, we ate nothing but hotdogs and oranges. Whittled, learned(the hard way) to make a fire and I LOVED IT!!!Every bug-bitten, rain-drenched minute. I think you non-campers are weird. Who wouldn't want to stare down a bear coz your kids are in the tent he's standing next to. Done that. :) Great story, as usual, El. GR

  7. Haha We LOVE camping...that is, the luxury kind.
    Each summer we set off with our caravan and drive up north to Scandinavia (I live in Holland) and enjoy 2 to 4 weeks in beautiful nature.
    It's so relaxing!
    In the Netherlands, we are totally unfamiliar with summer camps. Even when I was young, I'm 4.5 years older than you Elpoo, it was a rare thing overhere.
    I remember going on camp once with the boy scouts, and yes I hated it!!!! Destryed my sleeping bag on the first night, was made to eat the most disgusting food, aaaahhhhh how glad I was to go home!
    But caravanning, that's diffirent. Not really camping I thing. Does that make me a little less evil please? Please????
    BTW great picture of you. You're more beautiful nowadays...
    Cheers Marcel

  8. Marcel, we are kindred spirits.
    DO you know that I LOVE Holland? If it wasn't for the language with words that are 50 letters long, I would want to live there. Probably my favourite European country.

  9. And Garth (my everluvvinbrudder), you were totally dropped on your head as a child. Mom told me.