Top 10 Things I Hate About Sleep Away Camp With My Kids

This isn't camping. It's just camp. I'm not sleeping in a tent or anything crazy like that.  (Can you imagine me in a tent??)  I'm staying at something that would like to bill itself as more of a “retreat center” than a KOA.  Ha. If this is a retreat center then I guess I could never stay anywhere really camp-like. Here's something for the suggestion box: If you're going to call yourself a retreat center you better have kickass WiFi everywhere. Also, you should have some place for me to sit when I check my email on your kickass WiFi - not my bunkbed.

Already I'm having withdrawal symptoms and last night when I figured out that the lodge I'm staying in has no WiFi, I about had a panic attack and threatened to pack up the car and go home.  I took a deep breath and asked around.  I soon figured out that I just need to go to a different lodge to get online, so I calmed down and spent the night.

I tucked my children into bed and they dreamily said to me, "I'm so happy we're here.  I love it, Mama."  

"Mmm...hmmm," I replied and then I settled down in my impossibly uncomfortable bed and tossed and turned thinking about how much I don't love it here and how un-happy I was.  So, of course, I got up and made a list:

Top 10 Things I Hate About Sleep Away Camp With My Kids

1.  The beds. Bunkbeds really lose their appeal after about age 10. I'm sleeping on the bottom bunk, so I feel claustrophobic and it's so narrow I'm sure I'm going to roll out. The top bunks are so high that I'm not letting my kids sleep in them. Remember, this is the place where Gomer hit his head so hard last year that I had to take him to the ER and Adolpha has just come out of a cast, so I'm not taking any chances. They're sleeping on mattresses on the floor and they're not very thrilled. They're smart not to whine though, they know what I'll make good on my threats to pack up.

2.  The food. True, I don't have to make any meals this week. Instead, I just have to guess what I'm eating. I think that might be eggs, but I've never seen eggs with that consistency.  Fuck it, I didn't have to cook. Thank goodness there is always a salad bar to graze if dinner isn't appealing. Besides the mystery meat, I always have to keep an eye out for errant bugs. Last year the cook left granola out for breakfast and when I put a bowl of it in front of Gomer, he took a bite and said, "Hmm...that's weird, my granola is moving." Yeah, there were bugs in it.  Protein!

3.  The noise. The first year I came Adolpha was 2 and I was the lady with the screaming baby at night. This year I realized I have little or no patience for that anymore. That is horrible of me to say because people were very kind to me (at least they were to my face) when Adolpha would keep the entire lodge up with her ear splitting refusals to go to bed. I should be kinder, but last night I was at my wit's end. Lucky for me, my mother is here and she offered to put my kids to bed and she sent me on a quiet walk. (She really doesn't want me to pack up and leave.)

4.  The lack of privacy. I am sharing a room with both of my children, my mother, my grandmother and my aunt. Privacy isn't even a word in this room. Poor Gomer has been getting an eyeful of old, wrinkled flesh even though we keep sending him out of the room while the women get dressed. He leaves, but he neglects to close the door behind him so our door wide open for the world to see our old, wrinkled flesh. You're welcome, teenage boys living across the hall. I know that sight made your list of top 10 things you hate about camp too.

5.  The showers. This morning I waited 15 minutes and still never got any hot water. I finally jumped in and did my business as quickly as I could. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to count swimming as bathing. After a second cold shower, my mother, who is the brains of the group, realized that our shower was plumbed backwards. So that means, COLD is hot and HOT is cold.

6.  The bugs. I mentioned the bugs in the granola, right? Bugs are everywhere here. Just writing this made my skin crawl like something was trying to get me. I'm convinced that bugs are everywhere at camp. I'm also convinced they are bigger than normal and much more fierce. I think this is genetic, because last night both kids told me they were being “followed by hornets.”

This is the kind of hornet I imagine!

7.  The lack of storage. You need clothes (at least two outfits a day since it's so dirty), bedding, towels for showers, towels for the pool, toiletries, food (I mentioned the mystery meat, right?), lovies, drying racks, rugs (we don't like to touch the floor with our bare tootsies), toys and books, but where do you put it all in a 10x10 room with 6 people?

8.  Rain. One word: mud. 

9.  When the pool gets closed down.  There was a blow out.  The swim diaper kind.  On the first day.  Whoops.  It happens.  The pool is contaminated and today it was closed.  It actually wasn't bad, because my kids went boating and they barely missed the pool.  If it's still closed tomorrow, it could be a problem.  

10.  The first night. Even though this is my fourth year attending this camp, I still have a hard time that first night. The reality of what I'm about to do really sets in and I get very grumpy. I'm arrive caffeinated, plugged in, and doped up on television and Target. It's like detox. I don't sleep well the first night; I can't get comfortable and I can't relax (I'm sure there are bugs I my bed, the noise is driving me crazy, and I feel the top bunk creeping closer to me).

UPDATE:  Even though I wrote this on the first night, I couldn't get a decent enough WiFi signal to actually post the mofo.  I'm now finishing day 2 and getting ready for day 3 all the toxins are out of my body and I'm so exhausted from all the fun we're having I won't have trouble sleeping tonight.  We had fun today boating and eating ice cream.  Tonight was my favorite night:  Talent Show night.  My kids sang a song.  I decided that next year I'm going to write a Top 10 List for Gomer to deliver.  The kid loves making a crowd laugh and between the two of us I think we could kill 'em.

35 comments:

LoveNotesFromTheGroin said...

Sounds...fun? I loved overnight camp as a kid. Many of my fondest memories of my childhood are from camp. I was a counselor there for a summer during college and some of the older counselors did bring their families. I can't wait till my kids are old enough to go to camp so I can relive it through them (from the letters they are forced to write home, of course). I don't think I'm up for a week of family sleepaway camp, though. We just go camping and my husband is such an expert at it that sleeping in tents and cooking over a fire is actually much more comfortable than what you're describing! Have fun!

RachRiot said...

Damn, you are a better woman than me. Camping is my own personal pergatory. The closest I've come to camping in the last 15 years was that one time I stayed at a hotel and forgot my hairdryer. I had to use their suck-ass, 30 watt job with the 3 ft. cord. *shudder*
Also? The Hubs gets to stay home? Enjoying the solitude, wandering around pantsless, eating junk food?!? Oh, hellz no.

Please tell me there is access to booze at this joint.

Anonymous said...

You send the kids to camp! I've never heard of family camp. Sounds like a cult!

JessN said...

Why are you at camp with your kids?! The entire point of summer camp is to send them away for a week, so that you won't kill them the rest of the summer. You should be at the beach or something with a drink and cabana boy.

Kayla Arnolts said...

jim gaffigan also loves camping. let's put it all in perspective, jen! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdqIpYhM6PE

Kevin said...

I agree, you send the kids away...for a break. But you'd never survive at a real camp LOL.

Tazi-Kat said...

On vacation and still posting original stuff! You are such a trooper! I am planning on taking a week off in August...and was going to post re-runs of my column, but you have raised the bar! Beware - the OAM's just might ask you to join their tribe! lol...enjoy your trip!!! Snuggles, Tazi-Kat

imbogus1 said...

They're smart not to whine, but I bet you want to 'wine'!

Anonymous said...

Hate to be the one to tell you, but white ass hornets will "follow" you. They follow you like heat seeking missiles. They ARE huge, and they deliver a vicious sting that could leave you with an anaphylactic reaction even though you've never been allergic to bees before. I HATE those things. So if you see a hornet that has a white ass and face stay FAR away from them!

Nicole said...

Nope. Kids go to camp, not the parents. If parents go along, it's to a resort. With cocktails and comfy beds.

fiftyfinally said...

summer....kids....
when my kids were little, most of their friends (and some relatives) parents were divorced, seperated etc...
I was jealous of all the parents who send their kids to their ex's for summer holiday visitation...
The best time to be seperated from your spouce has got to be during the summer...

fiftyfinally said...

...also...didn't you smuggle in some booze? You need to bring better supplies

spymay said...

I used to work at a camp as maintainence, then as a cook.Let me tell you,it's not any easier on the people working there either.We hated when it rained too because of all the work cleaning out the bathouses and dining hall every day(we had to wait until the end of the week to clean the lodge and cabins).No lie, one of our tools to clean was a shovel because even though we had big trash cans everywhere and we took out garbage every day, we always had big mounds of trash to scoop up.
Also,poop in the pool was bad, but not the worst thing I've seen in there.That award would have to go to the raccoons(one dead,one alive).So glad I didn't get the short straw on getting either one of those things out.Blech!
The camp we hated the most was this church in the richest part of town-those kids/counselors were not only slobs, but they were rude.
Ironically,the camp we loved the most was an outreach camp for kids in the inner city whose parents were Thai/Vietnamese immigrants-those kids were so sweet,polite, and cleaned up after themselves.

Ki said...

I am going camping in less then 2 weeks with 4 other adults & 10 kids between the ages of 16-8. Before you think I've lost my mind, its 2 miles from the beach, has marble water fall showers, & 4 pools and a crap load of things for the kids to do.
Even still, I'm bringing booze,

Anonymous said...

I went to camp with my son when he was in elementary school. Not too many moms did, but I thought I'd like doing all the fun "stuff". I remembered I USED to be athletic. Well, wow, what a horrible idea. Cold showers, bugs, 2 zillion mosquito bites, piles of white bread with butter at every meal. Dedicated mom that I am, though, I went back the next year -- and then made Dad take over after that. Man, that was too much for me. Kudos to you for going with your kids. Not a lot of mom will do that. (I did always wish I'd snuck in some booze, though. A little shot at bedtime would have helped a lot some nights!)

mod mom beyond indiedom said...

I remember my first time at camp. It didn't last long. A couple hours in, I impaled my foot on a rusty nail and it was off to get a tennis shot for me! Wear shoes!

MrsHoehn said...

Bhahaa I was thinking cult camp too! WTF? You have to STAY THERE WITH THEM AND OTHER FAMILIES?? I'll do camping if it's in my OWN tent with my 16" air mattress with flocked top, down blankets and pillow, earbuds, wine, sleeping pills, and my phone with data connection.

Erica Gutowski said...

Where is this camp? I MUST go!

Eileen said...

Okay, so I admit that I was excited for you and a little jealous that you'd be going to family camp this week. I thought it sounded great - wifi, activities for kids so you can chill, not cooking, etc. BUT, I was also imagining a nice suite where the kids sleep in a separate room, your get your own comfy bed, extended family members stay in their own sweet suite. Not hell's waiting room, like you described!
Thankfully, my envy is now gone. NO amount of family pressure will get me there. Good luck with the rest of the week, though! Sounds like it's improving...

Anonymous said...

Yes, you will kill at the talent show next year with your witty list of 10+ things & Gomer. Thanks for keeping me laughing!!

Ali said...

What a good mom you are! I love my little boy, but I don't think I could brave anything with the word "camp" in it, unless there's such a thing as "all day spa camp."

Again, you. are. a. good. mom.

L Carilo said...

Jen, you're the best mom ever!

Jenn said...

The image of that giant hornet is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Angie said...

I've never heard of this family camp thing. Sounds horrible. I don't even like sleepig in hotels because, you know, I'm not allowed to bring my own bed and my fan that cancels out all annnoying noises.

Sarah said...

Does anyone else think this camp sounds like a version of the place from Dirty Dancing?

JennaJennJenn said...

Every year I want to take a vacation to the beach. Lounge by the pool and read all day, go out to eat every meal and shop shop shop at the outlets! That's not asking too much, is it? Well, apparently it is because every single year I find myself sleeping in the dirt, cooking every meal on a rickety old camp stove, showering in a spider infested bathroom (trying to wash my hair but not extend my elbows so that I won't touch the walls or the moldy shower curtain. Oh yeah and do it in under 2 minutes before the quarters run out), and by the third day wearing musty smelling damp clothes. Yes, camping. I have two boys and all they want to do is camp. Tent camp. There are some nice parts of it but man I want to sit in some hot, white sand SO bad.

Lindsay said...

I hope Hubs makes you breakfast in bed for a week when you get back. I can't imagine doing something like this. You are a great mom.

Lea said...

I was thinking "Dirty Dancing" too. Don't let them put you in a corner, Jen.

Christi B said...

I am sorry, but that just sounds hellish. AND we do something somewhat similar and call it "resort". At least the food at ours is fantastic. But the bugs and the dirt? Unbelievable. And the beds - the only way I can sleep is either to be completely exhausted or to crack open one of the several bottles of wine we bring with us. I hear ya, sister.

Anonymous said...

You sound like the moms you obsess over-- you know, the oams-- over the bunkbed thing. Who are you trying to impress? If I were your child, I would be humiliated. "yeah I wasn't allowed to sleep on the top bunk cause my mommy was afraid I would fall off" says your kid. "I can't wait to tell everyone else so they can help me make fun of him for the rest of camp" says EVERY OTHER KID

SarahJoy said...

Jen, reading your blog today reminded me of the year I went away to camp and one of the horses had an aneurism... For the entire week we all wondered if our mystery meat was horse... To this day,no one really knows!!

I love your blog, and you made me smile (as you always do!). Hope your week goes by quickly and goes well!

Hang in there!!

Anonymous said...

Loved reunion! Unfortunately going with my husband would involve me gifting him (similar to the closet purse) a "I brought my wife to crappy reunion so I got this fancy golf driver"

Anonymous said...

So they served you bugs in your breakfast last year and you came back this year?

Allison said...

Really? You pick this trip out, plan for it, pay for it, take time off, pack up and go and then complain about it? Try something new next year.

Anonymous said...

Great job surviving camp! I know the lovely accomodations and food you are experiencing and I know for a fact that's no Dirty Dancing camp resort. Glad you made it back to shore safely. How does the Hubs get out of "camp"?

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