Camp this year was a whole different experience from last year and unfortunately it wasn't for the better. I don't even know how to really explain it. There were many good parts. The kids and I had fun together most of the time. The game that they enjoyed the most was called Fork over the Chocolate. At one table you sat and rolled dice. If you got a six on either one, you ran to another table and began cutting a giant bar of chocolate with a plastic knife and fork. If you managed to cut a piece off you could eat it. But you couldn't touch the chocolate with your hands at all. While whoever was at the chocolate was trying to eat it, the other kids were still trying to get a six. Once someone got a six you took over on the candy and sent the other person back to roll again. And once the candy bar was gone, I gave a few extra pieces to the kids who didn't eat very much during the game. The other big hit was the water fight with noodle squirters. It wasn't so much that the kids enjoyed dousing each other, they all ganged up on me (in my clothes) and then the camp staff who happened to be around.
One thing about being in the woods is that there are an abundance of bugs. The misquitoes were huge and poor Emma is allergic, so after the first day her ankles were swollen and I had to keep puttng hydrocortizone on them so she wouldn't itch. The bugs also provided quite a bit of entertainment in the form of catapillars. I don't know how many we found, but they were played with and passed around. Two even got names. The first was Tickles and the second was Sticky.
I should tell you about the kids I had. Emma and Natalie (the twins), Jackson and Abby (older siblings of the twins), Nathan and Madeline, and Luke.
Emma and Natalie are not identical twins. The first night Madeline says to her mom, "I know they say they're twins, but I don't believe them. They don't even look alike." But my favorite was overhearing Madeline on the playground on afternoon while all the kids were playing house. I was sitting on the tire swing just watching and I heard Emma say, "Mom, I am going to the tire swing and Tia's going to push me." Madeline responds, "Tia is your great-grandmother." OUCH! I don't get to just be grandma, I have to be great-grams! I guess I really am getting old.
What wasn't so fun about it, was literally not having any breaks from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed. I didn't get to participate in a single thing outside of what I did with the kids. In four days, I managed to take one 10 min shower. It really wasn't anyone's fault, there just needed to be more than one person taking care of all the kids. Plus were were confined to just the camp for the whole time. Not really a good set-up. For those of you with kids, you can relate to having to go thru a buffet line and get your food and your childs. Have you ever tried taking 4 or 5 thru? And have a line of hungry teenager behind you that have no patience or consideration. By Friday night, I was completely fried. That's when I was ready to walk away and cry. Instead, I talked to one of the parents and we figured out how she could take some of the kids over to the beach on Sat after lunch, leaving me with just the twin girls. Then, God completely blessed me. Lila took the twins and entertained them for about 45 mins and I got to just sit and relax. Ahhhhhhh. After that I felt completely refreshed and the twins and I had a really good day together.
There were some ugly moments and I did get angry about some things. I don't want to be a complainer or harbor any bitterness so I'm making a conscious decision to let it go. I do need to speak my peace about a few things and this is a good place to do it. If I decide to go to camp next year, I will not agree to watch the leaders children. Because of the responsiblilty they have to the campers all day long, I don't think they should have their families with them. They have no opportunity to spend time with them and the kids don't really understand why they can't be with mom and dad when they are right there. Secondly, if someone is taking care of your kids for 14 hour days, 4 days in a row and it's free to you, the least you can do is say thank you. That might be what upset me the most. Of the three families whose children I had, the two I had the least were so thankful and appreciative.
I want to end this post on a good note. In spite of a melt down evening where the twins decided they never wanted to see me ever again (i didn't take it personally, I was probably feeling just about the same at that point) the next morning on the playground, Natalie called my name and came running over to tell me something very important. "Tia, I love you so much. Give me a big hug." That right there makes everything else worth it.