August 23, 2014

camp chronicles: milestones

This year marked my 20th year up at my camp. I was just 13 years old when I first boarded a bus in Toronto with my friend and headed up to Northern Ontario for a week of volleyball camp. Two decades later, it's been an incredible part of my life. 

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you've seen my posts about camp for the last couple years and you know that it's a big part of my life. But as my life as a mum and wife continues to evolve, the thing that makes me happiest is seeing how much my family has grown to genuinely love the place. 

Perhaps the person in my family who gets the 'super camper' award this year is little Lady M. From the moment we pulled off camp property last year, she has been asking to go back. For 365 days she has talked incessantly about her experiences, played songs that remind her of camp on repeat, and has made plans for her return. And let me tell you, this little 5-year-old made the best of her time there this year, hitting the following milestones in one short week: 

1. After completing just one dance session last year, this summer Lady M participated in one or two sessions every day, dancing her little heart out! One fabulous teenage boy may have helped to encourage her with the promise of some ice cream early in the week, but after that, she didn't require any bribing to continue! She chose not to show off her skills in the week-end performance, but we had told her all along she didn't have to do that. We just wanted her to have a great time, and you better believe she did! 

2. That week Lady M also participated in her first badminton tournament. Last summer she developed a love for the sport, and was happy to hone her skills a little more this year. Participating in this tournament (run by the finest tourney convenors!) kept a mile-wide smile on her face the whole time, deepening her love for the game just a little more. 2028 Olympics - here she comes!! 

3. Once again this summer we packed Lady M's bike into the truck, but this year, Calvin took the training wheels off! Equipped with her helmet and Disney Princesses elbow pads, knee pads and sweet riding gloves, she took to the grass like a champ! It was a week of freedom for this little girl, and riding a two-wheeler was the icing on the cake. 

4. Thanks to some friends who brought their boat up north for the week, Lady M was able to add "first tubing ride" to her list of milestones. [Brace yourself...shocking news alert!] I tend to be the more nervous of the Calvin/Kristin parenting team so was slightly anxious as my little girl (who cannot yet swim on her own) climbed out onto that tube. But our friends' teenage son was out there with her, and she had a blast! The boat may have been travelling at it's slowest speed in a perfectly straight line, but the smile on my little girl's face made it feel like she was travelling at top speeds! 

5. Finally, when Cal, Lady A and I were off with my leadership campers one session, Lady M was at the high ropes course with her fellow dance campers. When we were able to make our way over to her, she was standing under the course watching some of the other kids conquer the elements. We asked "are you going to try it?", thinking that her nerves had likely overcome her. She responded with "I already did!", and apparently she not only loved it, but according to her Coach and Counsellor, she flew up the telephone pole, and walked across the suspension bridge like she did it every day before school! Cal suggested that perhaps it was best that I, the nervous mum (see #4), was not there as I may have made her a little more nervous! All that matters is that she bravely scaled the high ropes course, and had a blast doing so! 

So, it was clearly a week of firsts for her. But if that doesn't help to explain my love for this place, let me  share one other quick thing: 

This year we sparked up "coaches' happy hour", a fun gathering that came from the fact that our family's cabin is on a completely different side of camp than the rest of the coaching staff. Many of them really never knew where we were located! So, my fellow coaches and I concocted a plan to help solve this problem, and each afternoon a different coach would host 'happy hour' at their cabin, providing snacks and a welcoming atmosphere where we could all gather and hang out. 

On the day that we were to host, the girls and I made our way across camp to where most coaches stay, while Cal finished preparing the trays of cheese, crackers and fruit. My little girl brought her red Jump Rope for Heart skipping rope, and invited a number of coaches to hold the rope (a la preschool field trip!) and she led them across the field to the side of camp where we reside. Here's the magic of it: only at camp would a group of 10 grown adults hold a skipping rope, led by a 5-year-old for the five minute walk to our cabin, not once letting go. The vision of this was priceless, and the kindness of the people holding the rope is a moment I won't forget. The people who become your camp family are like no other. It's an incredible group of people, who help to make the place amazing for every camper and person on camp. 

I'm very lucky to have had the chance to spend 20 years enjoying this place that I am proud to call one of my homes. 

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