Our two daughters–one in Indiana and one in Georgia– have signed their little guys up for summer camps. I’m not offering advice; the words “summer camp” still give me the heebie jeebies.
More than 15 years ago (then teenage) daughter Pogo landed a summer job as a counselor at a day camp. Daughter Boo had already married, but was back visiting us for a couple of weeks. Midway through the first week session, administrative disaster struck at ye old camp site. Several of the teenage counselors quit without warning or notice, leaving the director in dire straits. The little campers would be back the next day, but how could they find counselors in less than 12 hours?
Pogo volunteered to save the day. “My sister. . . my mom. . . .” If her dad and brother hadn’t had other jobs, they would have been pressed into service too. Boo and I protested strenuously as we had some activities of our own in the planning stages for the next day: Scrabble . . in the den or on the deck? Diet Coke. . . would that be with or without a straw? Pogo, however, waxed eloquently on how cute the kids, how nice the staff, how exigent the circumstances. Our sorry excuses couldn’t stand up against the mental picture of all those disappointed little faces with their angry parents beside them.
The winning argument, however, was this: There were only two days left in the week. How bad could it be?
When the temperatures are in the 90’s and the camp is outdoors… when wasps await snack time even more enthusiastically than the campers…when there are a couple of smartypants in every group…when the toilets are porta-jons…the answer is simple: pretty darned bad.
Pogo loved it. Boo and I survived. By Friday afternoon Boo and I were giving each other high fives at the carpool line. Then, too fast for us to sprint for the gate, the director tracked us down. “We haven’t been able to find anyone for next week’s session yet. . . Would you…?”
That week’s session brought a different group of campers, but the same old wasps, along with their friends, the flies and the no-see-ums. We painted and planted the flower pots, braided the lanyards, sculpted the clay, played the games, paddled the canoes, bandaged the bites, told the stories, laughed with the kids, petted the animals except for the llama, and collapsed every afternoon. Once again, Pogo loved it. Boo and I survived. Friday afternoon, the end of session 2, finally arrived.
HIGH FIVE, BOO!!!
Lordamercy, here came the director again. I looked around for escape. At the same time I was sympathetic to her plight. Not Boo. She straightened her steely spine and explained that she had an airline ticket to fly back to Indiana that weekend.
The director was undeterred and continued to plead. “You were wonderful with the children. We’d fly you back at a later day if you’ll just stay on for another couple of weeks.”
Boo is the daughter who, having been offered a drink by a flight attendant on a delayed flight once, gestured her head toward the screaming, seat-kicking youngster behind her, and accepted the mixed drink by snapping, “Sure. Give one to that kid behind me, too.”
This time, she shook her head emphatically, ending any further discussion of her employment with one sentence:
“Huh uh. I’ve got to go back and have my tubes tied.”