I apologize for posting so late today! I just got back last night from three days at Girl Scout camp with my daughter and once I rinsed off 36 hours worth of bug spray, sunscreen and dirt and had a cold bottle of beer, I crashed until 1:30 this afternoon.
Somehow, I survived - mainly because of the amazing staff and the other wonderful moms and girls I bunked with. We built fires, cooked outdoors, went on a two-hour trailride (my horse was Zeke, Margaret had Flame - which was a much cooler name, I thought), swam (right after breakfast both days - and that's when you get your shower in too only to load up on bugspray right afterwards), ate s'mores (you know, I don't think it's possible to have too many s'mores - do you?), hiked for - oh - about 10,000 miles, participated in the ropes course and archery, sang silly songs and played even sillier games, scratched mosquito bites, fought off gnat swarms (after swallowing enough to actually benefit from the protein), received the 5-Year Award at the final campfire ceremony and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.
I'm sunburned, tired, Diet Coke deprived, covered in bug bites, my butt hurts (2 hours in the saddle is A LOT) and couldn't be happier.
Weird isn't it?
One of the many great things that happened was meeting emerging, young writers - not just among the kids, but also among the counselors. Shutter and Weaver (counselors go incognito with aliases, an idea that has probably saved their sanity more than once) were awesome young women with real futures in writing. I had donated my books to the camp at the beginning of the season for the staff to read in their downtime and they really enjoyed that. I felt like somewhat a rockstar the way they said, "I've never met a real author before!" Of course, I didn't want to break the mood by telling them that I'm really just a robot held together with rocks and chewing gum.
The camp staff are amazing. They never complain, are always upbeat (especially when they wake you up at 6:30am). We had this counselor named Oatmeal who was hilarious and went waaaaay above and beyond for her campers on several occaisions. It was Weaver's first time as a counselor - but you'd never know it from her knowledge and enthusiasm. Many of the counselors are from other countries - I met young women from the Netherlands, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and Hungary. THAT IS SOOOO COOL!!!
But the real heroes are the moms who take time off from jobs, their families and other responsibilities to spend time with their daughters and impacting other girls. It really makes a difference. I've made so many lifelong friends it's unreal. We stay in touch and see each other every year. It's a major bonding experience when you are all on the back steps of your cabin using your water bottle to brush your teeth twice a day. After all these years, I can spit pretty far - a skill I never imagined I'd have.
It's also the one time a year Margaret allows us to dress alike. Well, it's more forced on her than anything. But after 5 years of camp together, we have quite a wardrobe of Camp Conestoga t-shirts. It's pretty dorky, I know, but that's kind of our trademark and the staff remembers that, "Hey! Aren't you the guys who always dress alike?" I like to think the laughter is complimentary.
Now I'm back to working on Coney's book, which I've tentatively titled (nice alliteration, eh?) I KILLED HIM MY WAY. So it's back to the real world. Sigh. I miss it a little. Maybe tonight I'll sit on my deck and let the mosquitos turn me into a blood buffet - just for old times.