Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Last Skeeter

I survived Skeeter 2007 and what a great last year!

Secretly, all spring long I'd been dreading taking my girls to Skeeter. We've had a rough year full personality conflicts and non-committal teenagers. In fact, it got to the point that I wasn't having fun anymore, and since Guiding has been a big part of my life for 20 years now, that's saying something. I'd decided this would be my last year in Guiding, and I was counting down the days.

The girls, of course, have been anxiously awaiting Skeeter since 'Rovent', the last social camp that took place in Manning Park in February. With good food, 2 dances, jello wrestling, a casino, tons of free time and hundreds of teenage boys, what girl wouldn't be excited to go?

I looked for any possible way out of going, but I'd promised to take them, so I was stuck. The packing adventure began.

The weatherman said it was going to pour, so into the car went the extra tarps, rope & poles. Camp staff said the water might not be potable, so into the car went jug upon jug of water. There were some personality conflicts before camp ("I HATE you!!!" "I HATE you MORE!!") so into the car went an extra 2-man tent. My girl with a blood sugar disorder was coming to camp, so into the car went an extra box of fruit leathers. My girls with life-threatening anaphylactic allergies were coming to camp, so into the car went extra epi-pens. Pam was coming, and Pam's a Princess, so into the car went the biggest bloody camp cot the world has ever seen. Insert a few choice words of frustration, a cup of tea and we were ready to carve out enough room for the driver and passenger. We were away!

Heather, my very young and crazy friend (also known as un-Bridesmaid # 3) was my passenger. She was also looking forward to camp, but was starting to worry that she might be too old (she's 19) to find herself any hot guys that weekend. That brought be back to the last year I went to Skeeter before I became a Leader. I was also 19 and I was walking around camp the first night with a couple of girlfriends, checking things (and guys, of course) out. A guy came up to us and started chatting us up. He talked a bit with my two friends then seemed to zero-in on me. We only chatted a bit (I thought he was kinda weird) then he asked me how old I was. I said I was nineteen and he screamed "EeeeeeWwwwwww! you're OLD" and literally ran away. I warned Heather she might be hanging out with Me and the 'Old People' tonight.

Heather and I, despite not having ferry reservations on a long weekend, got right onto the ferry and made it to camp before lunch. Camp Caillet- the home of Skeeter, is just outside Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We registered our group, caught up with Staff members and Scouters we knew, then both feeling like She-Ra Princess of Power, we hauled all the group gear to the spot we always camp in. We've been camping in the same spot for about 5 years now; right in between the field, the jello wrestling pit and the dance area. It is undeniably the loudest place at camp, so we always fit right in.

Having nothing better to do (you know, because we're so OLD) we decided to put up our tent, tarp it, set up the kitchen area and shelter, tarp a 'living room' for the girls and flag off an area for the girls' tent. When the girls got there several hours later, like the mean Leader I am, I made them set up their tent and tarp it right away. Good thing too, because as soon as we were in bed that night, it POURED.

The rain was torrential. I usually sleep through anything. I sleep through blizzards and lightning storms. I sleep through dances and armed raccoon reconnaissance missions. But I woke up when these rains came and wondered if the Yanks were bombing the local army base. It was that bad. But then of course I fell back asleep, and come morning it was beautiful and sunny, and we were all bone dry (thanks to me being a 'mean Leader').

The girls had a great time all weekend doing everything from playing cards and volleyball to jello wrestling each other and sucking face with random pimply-faced scouts. I fed them and all their many male groupies who learn really quickly that if they want to hang around they're welcome so long as they are respectful to the girls and to the Guiders.

A few years back, while going over the rules for co-ed camps, one of the kids was giving me some lip. The rule was "Buddy System at all times" and the boy asked if he counted as a buddy. I replied that the buddy needed to be a girl. He asked if he could be a buddy if he wore a wig. I said "No, you have a penis; you can't be a buddy". This prompted the eventual reworking of the 'Official Co-ed Camp Rules' featured below, for your enjoyment.

1) Buddy System at all times.
2) Your Buddy cannot have a penis.
3) Check-in at meals, after the dance, and before curfew.
4) Miss curfew and you win an exciting evening with the 'Old People'
5) No drugs or alcohol period.
6) No touchy touchy below the eyebrows. (AKA: hands where I can see 'em)
7) No visiting in tents.

As a funny little aside, several girls from various Scout groups (and even a couple of staff) came to camp this year with strollers wielding 3 month old babies... you do the math.

I also had a great weekend. I got to catch up with all the guys that I grew up with- my 'Landsville' boys (they were all from Landzville). I met these guys at my very first co-ed when I was 14 (they appeared out of a bush while I was cooking pancakes) and we've been buddies ever since. Some of them are still on the island, some of them are married, and a couple even have kids. It was great meeting wives/kids and reliving the past. I told them all that I was in fact engaged and soon to be married and they were very happy and very surprised! I think it was Steve who said it best: "Dizzy's finally settling down!". Watch out Sean! I'm apparently a handful!

Apart from that, I helped the girls get de-jello-ed, and visited with various Scouters I've become acquainted with. I'm always happy to see Scouter Gary around- a genuinely friendly man always there to help when something goes sideways. My pride usually prevents me from seeking help, but two years ago at Rovent it was -30 below and I couldn't get the white gas stove to light. Propane doesn't work past -20ish but white gas does, but not that day. I was just about ready to cry when Gary came by and we sent all the kids away and proceeded to set the stove on fire (that's right, the torched the sucker) to get the assembly warm enough that it would vaporize the liquid fuel. This was also Gary's last year as a Scouter (so he says) since his eldest son Colin was in a car accident at Christmas and is now a paraplegic. (More about Colin in another post)

At the end of camp, we all pitched in and had everything packed up in 1 hr- a new record. The girls were really fantastic this camp, and it's good to see them friends with some good Scouts- the same ones year after year. I've come to call them 'my boys' and they know they can come our way for second breakfasts and dessert.

Oooh dessert. I should mention I baked my world famous camp cakes (in the dutch oven) and Meghan came by Sunday night with ice cream. I can't think of a better way to end a camp.

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