As you read this, I am likely already at camp.

Fifth grade camp.

That’s right, friends. I’m up north this week, chaperoning my daughter’s 5th grade camping trip. And when I say “up north”, I mean it. From where I’m going, I’m pretty sure I can see Canada.

Which is fine by me. I like Canada. I also like camping. And fifth graders.

For a couple of years, in fact, I made my living taking 5th graders into the woods & introducing them to nature, so this is right up my alley. I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to get back to 5th grade camp for years, & I’m pretty sure I’m about to have a great week.

Here, in no particular order are 5 things I’m excited about:

1) The smell of the north woods in the spring.

2) Taking a dozen girls & making a team of them.

3) Sleeping like the dead because we’ve been outside all day.

4) Reading my girls to sleep by candlelight.

5) Watching kids discover that school isn’t the only place–or even the best place–to learn.

That said, here are 5 things I’m not looking forward to:

1) Chow hall food.

2) All-day rain. (Scheduled for today.)

3) Discovering (the hard way) which kids are bed wetters.

4) Wet socks–no relation (hopefully) to #3.

5) Parent chaperones who think they’re on vacation.

Given that I’m at camp, I probably don’t have internet access, which means I won’t be very present on the blog today. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’d love to check in on the conversation. So here’s a question to get you started:

Have you ever been to camp? What was your most memorable camp experience?

All images courtesy of Mouse over for Artist Attribution

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  • Jane says:

    Hello Trish,
    Have fun. I’ve never been camping. Never had the chance to go with my family or through school. I would love to go camping in Yosemite.

    • Jane, the rooster says hi!

      I visited Yosemite on a day tour when I was there for the San Francisco RWA in 2008. Absolutely stunning. The scale of the place just doesn’t come across in photos. Hope you get there one day. I was there in the middle of the summer holidays – I think it would be amazing once the day trippers had gone home and you had the place to yourself (sort of!).

      • Jo Robertson says:

        Oh, now the day trips are absolutely fabulous, Anna. I remember my first sight of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and the Grand Tetons. Gorgeous!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      I’ve been camping, Jane, but it’s definitely NOT my favorite thing to do. Unfortunately, all of my husband’s family are avid campers.

      I remember camping once when I had only one baby, and believe me, back in the day of no disposable diapers, that was NOT fun.

  • Susan, have fun. I’ve been camping once and I have to say it wasn’t my cup of tea. In fact, even getting a cup of tea was a problem! I’m more an all mod cons holiday sort of girl. Love the thought of you in the woods, though. I bet they smell like heaven!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      We’re sisters of the woods, Anna. I want my nature near a five-star motel, which is why I love going to the northern CA beaches. I’m so spoiled.

    • Anna, camping is not my cup of tea, either, though I can enjoy it for a few days. If I’m in good company.

      I do aspire to learn to paddle a canoe so I can go camping in the Okefenokee sometime. Just one night. I think that would be enough, but I’d like that one time with all the stars overhead, no light pollution, and the night sounds of the swamp.

  • flchen1 says:

    I have been to camp a few times, but not until I was out of college already and serving as a counselor to junior high and high school girls 🙂 I enjoyed it then, but think I’d have a much more difficult time now 😉 DD just spent time at Outdoor Ed a few months ago and loved it! Have a fabulous time, Susan!

    • Fedora, I think summer camp is a much more American thing than it is here. Our summer holidays coincide with Christmas so maybe that’s why most of us stay with the family? I’m actually rather glad I never went to a school that had camp – I’m much more an indoors gal!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Men seem to do well at all that outdoor stuff, Fedora.

      Boyd’s family went camping, fishing and hunting several times a year as he was growing up.

  • Amy Conley says:

    4-H camp when I was 11 and 12. Loved it. We had cabins. Best part was one of the camp leaders, Bob. Bob sas hot! He also played guitar and each cabin did a stage show. Also Bob would play his guitar and sing every night.

  • ki pha says:

    Oooo~ Have fun Susan! This time of year is great to go camping in MN. Though their mosquitoes are horrible which is why I hate going camping because I become their every meal!

    But I have been to camp and they were fun indeed, because we stayed in cabins and not in tents in the wilderness. And the most memorable memory I had was the one I went with my high school club. The girls’ cabin attacked the boys’ cabin with markers to drawn on their faces as they slept and toothpaste spread on their door handles. I didn’t take part in it as I wasn’t so fond of the idea but it was Heck of a memory in the moring to wake up to. But I did help the boys clean. 🙂

    • Ki, cabins sound much more civilized! I’ve been to camping grounds and stayed in cabins too, especially when I was a poor student and we all went away in big groups. Such fun. Laughing at your story about the boys!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      There’s something in my scent and/or blood that attracts bugs too, Ki Pha! They do love to bite me regardless of what I arm myself with!

  • Helen says:

    Oh Susan

    What fun I used to take Girl Guides and Brownies on camping trips and we always had so much fun singing by the canpfire ding crafty things from things that were found in the bush always lots of fun

    Have Fun

    • Helen, when I was in primary school, I so wanted to be in Brownies but my folks weren’t up for it. All my friends seemed to have a wonderful time in Brownies and Guides and their camps sounded like fun. Kindilan which is the big Guides campground near Brisbane was actually just up the road I lived on. I suspect it’s all subdivided now but it was pretty wild and woolly where I grew up!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      My three daughters loved their summer camp every year from age 12 until high school graduation. They learned all sort of practical as well as crafty things, Helen.

  • Laurie G says:

    I went to Girl Scout Camp for two years. Loved crafts, swimming and campfire sing a longs. I sang the songs I learned to my children and now I sing them to my grandchildren. We slept in big tents with wooden floor bases.

    Memorable experiences :

    I managed to bring a mouse home in my suitcase.! Yuck!

    My friend who I went to camp with had an appendicitis attack and had to be taken to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.

    I went on my first 5 mile hike to visit The Old Wade House, an old half way house/ hotel/inn and I loved it.

    • Laurie, that sounds like fun. Except for the mouse. Bluech to bringing the mouse home! That hike sounds great. I remember the songs my friends learned on camp being fun – I still regularly sing nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go eat worms. That one’s a classic! 🙂

    • Jo Robertson says:

      LOL, Laurie. That begs the question: was the mouse dead or alive??

  • catslady says:

    I hope the weather cooperates for you. I never got to go as a child but both my daughters were in girl scouts. I volunteered as a mother (not a vacation – I worked lol) and was an assistant leader for 3 years. I truly enjoyed it and had some nice adventures. It was probably some of the mother volunteers that got to me the most!!

    • Catslady, I have to say the idea of camp in Minnesota sounds so exotic to me. So glad you had a wonderful time volunteering – oh, man, being stuck in the wilderness with annoying people? Poor you!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      My daughters whose boys are Boy Scout age are always cub or den leaders while the boys are in the pack. It’s fun for them.

    • Catslady, I volunteered a lot when the boy was in grade school. I know the type of mom volunteer you mean. It would really be better for everyone else if they stayed home.

  • Hi Susan –

    I remember going to camp as a kid and then going with my daughter camping with the Girl Scouts. I enjoyed it. Although camping in the rain is the pits, I do love falling asleep to the sound of rain hitting the canvas. Worse memory was getting a migraine while chaperoning. When I get a migraine, I vomit – can’t help it – it just happens. I was waiting for the parents of a little girl who decided she wanted to go home no matter what we said to convince her to stay. I’m sure my retching in the bushes didn’t help matters 🙂

    Have fun on your adventure!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Oh, no, Donna, that sounds awful, almost as bad as getting Pharaoh’s Revenge!!

    • Donna, there is no embarrassment worse than throwing up in public, imho. There are some as bad but none worse. What a pain! Not to mention the migraine. :-/

      I’m sure the girl was preoccupied with her own concerns and didn’t give your problem much thought, but still.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Susan, I hope you have/had a great time in the great outdoors! It sounds like camping is your cuppa. I’ll stop doing a rain dance so hopefully your tents will stay dry along with your lovely selves.

    Yikes on the bedwetting!

  • Cassondra says:

    Hi Susan,

    I hope you’re having a great time in the Cold North Woods! *does not envy staying in cold nightime temps*

    I have been camping quite a lot. I don’t love it, but I can do it and am pretty good at it.

    I never went to camp as a kid. The opportunity just wasn’t there for me. I have, however, handled many, many kids at camps–teaching them ropes. I always drew the line at staying there though. I didn’t do that. I wouldn’t participate in anything that involved actual caretaking. My role was to take them for a few hours, scare them into listening to me under threat of falling and dying if they didn’t pay attention and did it wrong, make them have huge fun doing it and come away stronger and prouder, knowing they can do anything, then give them back to their intrepid caretaking leaders to handle the really tough issues like bedwetting.
    Yeah. I can dredge up empathy if I need it, but honestly there’s not a “motherly” bone in my body, and mostly I’m just the camp drill sergeant. *grin*

    • Caren Crane says:

      Cassondra, I’ll bet all the kids adored you once they got over fearing you’d kill them. Believe me, I understand this phenomenon. I was just that sort of Girl Scout leader! and GS Event Director. When I was Event Director and in charge of the girls helping to run the event, I cracked the whip and they jumped! It was the only way to keep them on track and keep all the younger girls safe, though, so I did it. Most of them ended up loving me dearly. A few even joined my troop after that! 😛

    • Cassondra, I think you would be fun to have around at camp. I don’t know if I would’ve had the nerve to try your ropes course (very afraid of heights and now am under medical orders not to risk a fall because of my back surgery), but I would’ve wanted to.

  • Becke says:

    You are a brave soul I attended camp for 6 weeks in Wisconsin also near the Canadian border. I was in the 8th grade.

    Some things were good and some things not so good. Cold water in the lake and streams.

    This is where I took riflery and archery. We also had water skiing, horseback riding, and canoeing. Did an overnight canoe trip and got leaches. Traumatic.

    As an adult we camped a lot with kids, dogs and horses. WE all loved it.

    Now, must have soft bed, running water, and climate control.
    Have fun.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Becke, I’ll admit that I am not keen on any sort of rustic camping at this point. My knees hurt too badly! I will go, though, if I have my cot and air mattress. I love cooking outdoors! I do insist on some sort of running water. 😀

    • Becke, six weeks? Wow! Had you been away from home before? I would’ve liked archery, which I took in college and loved, and riflery, and I would’ve like to try riding.

  • Shannon says:

    I’ve done two kinds of camping.

    Organized camping for 4-H and at Lutherhaven. Each had cabins, messhall food, and lots of sing alongs. I find myself trying to remember “It only takes a spark…”

    My family also camped all over northern Idaho in a tent. I remember rainy days in the tent spent playing cards and glorious days on the beach, swimming and frying. We had a small propane stove, so there was tea and hot chocolate.

    The most adventurous trip was when our boat conked out at Whiskey Point. There was a narrow rocky beach, my Dad dragged a log to keep the waves from coming in the tent, and we “sat” for two days until my Dad’s friend came looking for us. (We actually spent the days diving off of Whiskey Rock.) We got to ride in a big fancy boat back across the lake.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Shannon, I’m sure Lutherhaven and 4-H camp were a lot like Girl Scout camp! All the necessities, few frills beyond flushing toilets and (occasionally) warm water. 😀

      And what an adventure you and your family had at Whiskey Point! You got to kick it all Swiss Family Robinson for a few days AND got rescued by a fancy boat. Sweet!

    • Shannon, you sound like a camping veteran. How clever of your dad to think of pulling that log up to block the water!

  • Caren Crane says:

    Susan, my camping buddy! As a kid, my family did plenty of tent camping. When I did my 14 years as a Girl Scout leader (still recovering!), we took the troop(s) camping as often as we could make them go. 😀

    When the girls were young, we mostly did cabin camping, though we cooked our own meals. As they got older, we did tent camping. We spent more than one soggy autumn night when the rain absolutely poured and no amount of effort could quite keep it all out. I tell you, nothing teaches girls how to pitch tents “the right way” more than spending a night getting dripped on or waking up with their packs sitting in a puddle.

    I have a LOT of camping stories. One memorable night, we had taken our 4th and 5th graders cabin camping at the staffhouse at Camp Mary Atkinson (a local Girl Scout camp). Which should have been a super-sweet setup…except it was February and it got down to about 19 degrees. Even though there was “heat” there really wasn’t much. The ranger built a huge fire in the fireplace and left us an enormous pile of chopped wood.

    Of course, most of the girls had packed like they were going to a sleepover at a friends house. These same girls mostly had sleeping bags that weren’t rated for conditions below freezing. They had to put on everything they had with them and sleep like a pile of puppies to stay warm. Of course, a few of the girls (like my daughters) had bags rated for 10 degrees F and had brought wool socks, etc.

    We ate a LOT of s’mores that night and consumed massive amounts of hot chocolate. There were girls who went home and asked for better camping gear for their birthdays after that! 😀

    • Caren, wow! You have done a LOT of camping. S’mores and hot chocolate would’ve been my favorite part.

      My girl scout troop went up to the mountains once, and it snowed, but we were sleeping in the camp lodge, so it turned out okay. Nothing adventurous about it, really. *sigh*

  • Susan, I hope you and your 5th graders have a fabulous week.

    I went to Girl Scout day camp for a week in grade school and enjoyed being out in the woods. This led my parents to decide regular camp was a great idea. They sent me for two weeks.

    Alas, but I was miserable. I’d never been away from home except for a neighborhood sleepover and was miserably homesick. I hated the food and detested the “three bite” rule. Walking in the woods was was fun, and so were crafts, but swimming in a mountain lake was so NOT fun! (I shudder to think of the water temperature where you are.) The cabins were not what you might call snug, and we started every morning combing ticks out of our hair. Ugh. No, thank you!

    My senior year in high school, however, one of my friends cooked up a plan for a bunch of us to go camping over a long weekend before we graduated, with her dad as chaperone. That trip was a blast. We set up their camper at one campsite for him and a tent across the road for us. Most of us slept around the campfire, which was nice.

    We cooked at the site where her dad had the camper, hiked in the woods, waded in streams, and played chess with a portable, magnetic set one of the guys had brought. The woods and the stars were beautiful at night. There were no issues with snakes or ticks, and it was too early for mosquitoes. And the campground had a shower house with sort-of-hot running water and flush toilets. I would gladly do that trip over again.

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    I spent many happy summers in northern Michigan at summer camp. Memorable? When the boys side did a panty raid on the girls cabins and things ended up on the flag pole. LOL Or the time a camper was dragged out of his cabin in his sleeping bag while still asleep and left in the clearing between the girls and boys side of the camp until he woke up in the morning. 😉