This year marked 21 years since I first went up to my camp in Huntsville, Ontario. 21 rather formative years, that have seen me go from a nervously excited 14-year-old volleyball camper, to a confident 33 year old, excited to arrive with her sweet family. As you may have gathered from past camp chronicles, I love this place! There's something about the air, the space, the water, the stars, the sunsets, and the people that just make it such a special home away from home.
Over the last few years Lady A and Lady M have become increasingly comfortable there, and this year was easily their best one yet. They began to gain a little more independence - being allowed to go from the dining hall to another coaches' cabin without Cal or myself taking them there, for one thing. It's amazing what an open space, filled with people who will care for them, and no cars zipping by can do for a child's independence!
The family of coaches and kids who come up this week every summer are like no other. They're the group of friends who you see once a year, can always pick up right where you left off, and feel a comfort and familiarity that makes you feel at home instantaneously. We share much of our time catching up, sitting around the campfire, participating in happy hour (our brilliantly created daily activity to gain extra time together), and rehearsing our spectacularly choreographed coaches dance! Seriously, we have moves like you've never seen (and never will...)!
The leadership camp I teach is awesome. Though we were missing one of our teaching team again this year, Rene' and I did our best in her absence! (We missed you, Trishy!). We had a diverse and interesting group of campers who hailed from Russia, China, Iran, Ontario and Quebec, and as always it was fascinating to watch the group gel and work together over the course of our week. These kids always surprise me in unique and incredible ways - through their experiences, their thoughts and their ideas. Throughout the year I am always teaching adults, so I sure love my foray into the world of teenagers once a year. (Hopefully they're sufficiently preparing me for when Ladies A & M hit that stage...).
Though the best part of this summer was watching my girls. Yes, there was the independence, but they also challenged themselves in new ways that made me extra proud. Lady M braved one high ropes element last year, and this year she climbed a different, more challenging one, and also tried the climbing wall and the zip line! Lady A tried a high ropes course for the first time, and tried the climbing wall too! (My nerves put a limit on her trying the zip line...maybe next year for that one!). I loved watching their sense of curiosity come out, and seeing their determination as they attempted each new challenge, even though my heart might have been racing a little bit... Also, Lady A's harness was the tiniest, cutest little thing I've ever seen.
Beyond that, they both did Dance camp this summer. One of the benefits of coaching up there is that my girls can participate in any camp they want throughout the week (and there are a lot of choices). Though Lady M was leaning toward badminton camp this year, she pulled a last minute switcheroo and chose to join her sister in dance camp. This particular camp is fuelled by one incredible instructor who manages to take a group of girls - with very widely ranging dance abilities - and create a show at the end of the week that is spectacular. My girls did two of the dances in the show - lyrical and musical theatre - and the smile on my face was as big as the gym they danced in. And they haven't stopped singing the song "Best Summer Ever" in days...
Lady M is the kid who jumped off a stage into Cal's arms about two years ago when she froze at her dance recital in front of 40 people. To see her get up there and shake her groove thang in front of about 500 people was amazing!
Lady A, much younger than most of the kids out there, stole the show. She watched her sister and counsellor for the moves, and tried so hard to keep up, all the while with a giant grin on her face. Watching my kids, and the other coaches' kids in this dance was just the best part of an already great week.
From new found independence to first canoe rides (Lady A); high ropes experiences to unplugged family time, this week at camp is my favourite of the year.