My eager little Beavers took me camping last weekend. It had the potential of being the Best Weekend Ever, and definitely moments of the Worst Weekend Ever, but overall was just a nice balance between the two (such is life).
“We” packed up our bags on Friday afternoon. I was smart enough to print out the packing list and make two piles on Thursday night: one of Vaughn’s clothes and one of Ailsa’s. I had stayed home on Thursday with the ongoing lingering effects of this terrible flu/cold and a wicked bad sinus headache/migraine, so didn’t do much, but felt fairly prepared when I went in to work on Friday. The plan was that I’d work during the morning, teach my class at 12:15, then go straight home, shower, pack, pick up extra mittens at Winners, pick up the kids at school at 3, load up the car, and go.
Ha ha… ha…
I waited, sweaty and cold, for the bus to come by after Attack. It didn’t. The sign stated that it came every 15 minutes at that hour. Let me be clear: it did not, and does not, ever. I was shivering from head to toe, and my half-hot-chocolate/half-coffee (post-Attack treat) was cold by the time the bus arrived 45 minutes later. It filled to bursting, drove slow, stopped too long at every stop… and I got home at 2:28. I sprinted into the house, hopped into the shower to try to get feeling back in my body (and to stock up on extra heat for a cold weekend in the woods), and raced off to pick up the older Hufflings at school, for about 3:04.
As soon as I got to the office, Ailsa said, “I have to go to the bathroom”. The combination of Distracto and her snowsuit put us to 3:25. And we still had to buy mittens. Winners had grownup mittens only (on sale! Yay me!). We went home. The kids emptied their backpacks while I ran around like a madwoman, packing my own back, running down the list three more times, and putting fire blankets, pillows, and the three sleeping bags I retrieved from the top shelf of the garage…with a ladder…in the cold… in big black garbage bags. We were ready to go! The kids were wonderfully helpful in loading the back of the minivan I had borrowed from my parents: sleds, backpacks, garbage bags, my duffel bag, my backpack full of mittens and hats, and we were off!
To the gas station.
Filling up the tank, I recognized Rusty, the kids' Beaver leader at the next pump. “How late are we?” I asked. He was still planning on dashing home to quickly eat (it was 5 by now), so I figured we were on track, so we hit the road!
To Loblaws. (more mittens)
At Loblaws, the kids begged to stay in the car, so I ran in to grab more on-sale mittens (2 for Ailsa, 1 for Tamsin for next year, and 1 nice warm pair for me), plus some candy for the drive home.
At this point, it was 5:20. Back in the car, I pulled out Mom and Dad's GPS, and punched in the address. Not found. I punched in the postal code. Not found. I gave up and used my phone. We drove until 6, in the dark, down an unfamiliar highway (I was sure that we were going the wrong way), till we found a Tim Hortons. Soup is a nice quick meal... unless you have 2 kids and are on the way somewhere, in the dark. Back and driving, my phone told me that we still had an hour and 40 minutes to go. Sigh.
At 7:25, Vaughn pointed out that Ailsa was asleep, and that it was 5 minutes before bedtime. Still 45 minutes away. And my phone had been on continuously, so was burning hot against my thigh.
We finally pulled off the last of the main roads at about 8:05. Still 7km to go, and the last bit was turny and windy, and my phone wasn't responding very well. But we made it! We pulled into the parking lot of Tamaracouda, to see Rusty, the leader from the gas station, directing traffic. “How far behind you were we?” I asked, expecting at least 30 minutes. “About 10.” Score!
After some initial confusion, the three of us got settled into Cabin 3 with 2 other moms, 1 dad, and 3 little girls. And 8 bunks (do the math). Luckily, one mother-daughter combo wanted to share a bunk. Good for them! We met at the dining hall (5 minute walk) for mug-up (nice big glass of milk and cookies), then back to the cabin (6 min) to get ready for bed. Everyone grabbed their toothbrushes and... toothbrushes!
Somehow, even though it was at the top of the list, “toothbrush” slipped through the cracks. As did “soap”, “washcloth” and “towel”. Luckily, I am nothing if not
vain resourceful, and as I had brought my makeup bag
(containing a travel toothbrush and small toothpaste), we all had access to
the Family Toothbrush. This was fodder for all sorts of fun jokes,
like, “No, Ailsa, your day is TUESDAY,” and “I wonder what
Chris and Tamsin are doing without the toothbrush this weekend”. So
With everyone clean(ish, without soap, washcloths, towels, etc.) and in their jammies, everyone climbed into their bunks and fell asleep.
It was about 10:30. Each kid had their own story, complete with giggling and squealing and loud shouty noises. The last one seemed to go on forever, but the light was finally turned out, and I said, “Goodnight, Vaughn and Ailsa.” And Ailsa yelled, “Mommy! I have to go to the bathroom!” (Remember that nice big glass of milk?)
So, out of bed, into boots and coat, off to the bathroom (3 minutes in cold and dark). Back in the nice, warm cabin, the kids are still squirming and giggling. At about 5 am (I'm guessing), Vaughn has to pee. At about 6 (still guessing – it's dark, but starting to brighten), Ailsa has to pee again. I resolve to cut off liquids at 2 pm the next day. Suddenly, there's a knock at the door, Rusty pokes his head in, and our day has started.
The day was pretty wonderful, I have to admit. Beautiful, perfect, not-too-cold weather. Breakfast was eggs and toast. We went snowshoeing (just as much fun as it had been at Brownie camp, in 1983), then went to the dining hall (7 minutes away) at 11. Good! So hungry! All that fresh air and exercise! ….for crafts. Apparently, Beaver camp does not include snacks. As a compulsive snacker (who did not realize how snacky I really was until there were no snacks), it was a rough go till 12:30, but it was worth it: deeelicious hamburgers. Two of them. Nom nom nom.
The afternoon's schedule was full of napping and much-needed quiet time.
Just kidding! We went sledding!
It was a long walk to the hill, and a long walk up, and a reeeeally long walk back to our cabin, where I insisted that the kids have quiet time. Vaughn cuddled up with me and actually fell asleep for about 15 minutes, but Ailsa was interrupted by two of the other miscreants coming back in, squealing and giggling. Vaughn snoozed on for another 2 minutes, till his buddy popped in looking for him. Well, it was something.
They played outside a while longer, then off we went to the dining hall (11 minutes) for another craft. The kids were surprisingly into it, and made themselves nice little pillows. Dinner was a LOT of rice, corn, gravy, and what looked like chicken souvlaki would look like if I made it by boiling the chicken skewers without seasoning them at all. Still, I didn't make it, I didn't clean it up, so I ate it and liked it. We walked back to the cabins (14 minutes) to get dressed warmly enough for the campfire, and I bundled Vaughn's gear off with Ben's dad – they had planned a party in their cabin, and I said he could sleep over.
Once fully dressed and wearing our fire blankets over top, Ailsa had to go to the bathroom. We eventually made it to the campfire, roasted 2 marshmallows each, and went back to the dining hall for mug-up, this time, nuclear-hot hot chocolate with marshmallows, skits, and then back to our cabins (15 min) to brush our teeth with our Toothbrush, kiss Vaughn goodnight as we went to Ben's cabin for the night, and get settled in for a good night sleep.
Although I had made sure that both kids stopped at the bathroom before bed, I decided to take a peek up on Ailsa's bunk just before the lights were turned out. Beside her, an empty water bottle. AAAAARGH!
I dragged her back out into the cold,out to the bathroom, amid sobs of “But I don't have to gooooo....”, made sure she went again, and went back again to get tucked in and have the lights turned out. Sleep was elusive, though, as the bed-sharers squabbled for about half an hour over who was taking up too much room, and more rustling. But I finally fell asleep for the rest of the night.
At 1 am, Ben's dad returned a sad and shaky Vaughn to me. He had tossed and turned, talked in his sleep (he does that), fallen out of his top bunk, and thrown up on the floor. SO... here he was.
A good mother would instantly worry about her child. She would check him for concussion* and be concerned for his current and future health.
None of this even occurred to me. First, I was just so tired. But mostly, have you ever seen the movie Airplane!? There's a scene in which Dr. Rumack, played by Leslie Nielsen, explains to Elaine that any passenger who had eaten fish would get violently ill in the next short while. The pilot (Peter Graves) overhears this, and his eyes slide over slowly to look at his plate, which holds only a fishbone.
That was me and ... the Toothbrush.
All this to say, I DID do unintentional concussion checks on Vaughn, by asking him periodically whether he felt sick or thought he might throw up again (on me). I was mostly just waiting for Ailsa and I to throw up, as we had obviously been literally rubbing each others' germs around our teeth and gums for the past 29 hours. However, he wasn't warm, seemed lucid, and we actually enjoyed a really good night sleep until Ailsa woke up to pee, around 7.
The morning flew by: breakfast (French toast! yeah!), then sledding, then packing up to go home. We made good time, and both kids were unconscious within 5 minutes of starting the car.
All this to say that the days were amazing, the nights were hell, and I can't wait to go back next year!
With extra toothbrushes. (the soap is still optional)
*Note: Vaughn is still super smart. I don't think it was a concussion. Stop judging me.