Monday, October 11, 2010

Wet and wild

So it was our school's annual mother-daughter camp this weekend.
Miss 7 has been looking forward to it for months. Mr 9 was peeved that there wasn't a similar event for boys, but brightened when he learned that his Dad would be taking him camping elsewhere.
H. and I packed together, putting in swimmers and towels, sarongs and sunscreen, in anticipation of hours of fun spent having sandcastle competitions, swimming, and catching crabs. (Actual shellfish, not the other kind. Obviously.)
Anyway, anyone who lives in the southeast corner of Queensland will know that it bloody well pissed down rained all weekend.
The rain got heavier as we drove towards the coast, where we were promptly caught in a huge parking lot motorway traffic jam.
As the rain sheeted down, and we stopped and started and inched our way ever so slowly closer, Miss 7 began to get car sick.
Then it began to get dark. And did I mention the rain?
It was then that the Very Bad Thing Happened.
Yes, I got lost.
It was my fault. Having lived on the coast for many years, and passed the very camping ground many times, I thought I knew how to get there.
But in the rain, and the darkness and the roads that never used to be there but now were, I lost my way. Miss 7 got a little teary and began making noises about spewing.
Of course my unreasonably angry GPS did not recognise the name of the camp or even the street it was in.
I phoned the very helpful camp organiser and she tried to give me directions, but she didn't know exactly how to describe getting there from where I was..
Anyway, we finally made it safe, sound and vomit-free, and just in time for the tail end of dinner.
The meals procedure was kind of scary. Seriously it was like something out of the Seinfeld Soup Nazi Kitchen (except the men running it were actually very nice, and they food was really, really bad, unless you like overcooked, fatty food).
Because the camp was full, with several groups there including eye candy for the mothers male sporting teams, there were loads of rules about EVERYTHING.
We had to line up and help ourselves to food from the bain marie, then get knives, forks etc. All in orderly queues in a certain manner.
Afterwards, plates had to be scraped, stacked into a hole in the wall, and the cutlery put into containers.
We also were expected to wipe down tables and stack the chairs afterwards.
There was a strict 'no seconds' policy. (Although, to be fair, they always offered seconds if there was any food left).
There was coffee and tea, but the coffee was those individual sachets of instant coffee. Not coffee at all in my books.
And the juice was cordial.
The general consensus was that it was fine because a. we didn't have to make it, and b. we didn't have to clean up and pack away afterwards.
We were all issued with waterproof wrist bands and name tags which we had to wear the entire weekend, or risk being refused meals or asked to leave.
It was all a bit big brother-esque but with so many groups sharing the facility - silly me had assumed we'd have it to ourselves - you could see why they have to run it like that, or there would be chaos.
After dinner, we unpacked our car, which was parked as far away as possible from our accommodation. We don't have sleeping bags, so we took bedding - pillows, sheets and doonas - safe in the knowledge we would be warm and comfy. Of course, that would have worked if it hadn't been pissing down raining heavily at the time.
It also would have been useful if I hadn't dropped my doona and pillow in a puddle.
The facilities were surprisingly nice. I knew we were staying in dorms, but we had our own bathroom with hot and cold showers. Thank goodness. So there was no middle of the night trips to the loo, dodging snakes and cane toads.
We were lucky enough to fit in a before-bedtime visit to the beach, where, armed with torches, umbrellas and buckets and spades, we went crab-hunting. The kids were so excited, and the local youths drinking and hanging out near the surf club were very amused at our activities.
Then it was warm showers, and bed. We slept fitfully, and the mothers denied categorically that any snoring came from us.
Overnight the rain got heavier, and the morning program - playing on the beach, swimming, making sandcastles - had to be cancelled.
Miss 7 was devastated.
Instead, we played ball games in one of the halls, and watched movies in another private room. Oh there were arts and crafts too.
Miss 7 and her friend spent some of the afternoon rehearsing their act for Mother-Daughter Idol, the highlight of the weekend's proceedings. They were the 'Kitty Angels' and performed an acapella song and dance performance of Katy Perry's Hot And Cold. Very cute. They got 9 out of 10 from the judges, and loads of lollies for their troubles.
The next morning was even wetter, as well as windy. Miss 7 and I went to the beach anyway. It was freezing, but she insisted. It was outstandingly beautiful despite the rain and the wind, and we stopped for a while to marvel at the power of mother nature, and to pity the local kids who were in the water doing surf lifesaving training.
Unfortunately, the moment was ruined when first one umbrella, then the other, turned inside up and snapped. We returned to camp, soaked to the skin.
Again the program was shot to hell cancelled, and we watched Mammia Mia. There were a few awkward moments, as the kids either giggled or were repulsed by the naughtier scenes.
Goodbye lunch was actually pretty good - filo pastries containing chicken and mushroom or vegies and leek. Or maybe we were just really hungry, really cold, and really tired.
I even broke standards, and made an instant coffee before we left on the journey home.
Miss 7's favourite parts? The concert and the crab-catching.
Mine. Possibly going home. (Shhh, don't tell anyone ...)
And all those hours agonising at the thought of baring my body in public proved to be a big fat waste of time.
At least we made it home safely, where I got soaked, just for a change, unloading the car. Miss 7 was sniffly so I let her stay indoors keeping warm and getting reacquainted with the cat.
And yes, I did think it was typical that the weekend I had to go camping on the Gold Coast was also the weekend that the coast recorded the biggest October rainfall on record!
To keep with my sucky run of bad luck, my camera decided to die during the weekend - perhaps it was the humidity - so I couldn't even take any photos to share!
Mr 9 admitted to being cold and wet on his camping trip too, so at least we were all a little miserable, and they are now being sick together as well.
Despite my bad luck, mother-daughter camp was a really special experience getting to know some lovely ladies much better, and to watch our kids bond over secret girls' business.
What I really loved was how the older girls really took the younger ones under their wings ... being kind to them, helping them out, supporting each other. And I like to think that will continue when they're out of camp and back at school.
Our roomies were nice, and I kind of wish there was a similar event for Dads and sons, or even Dads and daughters, and Mothers and sons.
Would I go again? Definitely. (With fingers cossed that it doesn't rain, and that there are still loads of nice men to look at).


Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

When the older daughter (was school age) & step daughter being school age now (Year 5) there was no mother/daughter camps.

The schools they went to had/have camps but the parents don't get to go, they don't even have to volunteer.

To me this was a blessing as I don't believe in mother/daughter or father /son camps.

Because sometimes it's a single parent household where the father or mother has to play both roles either cause of the other parent passing away, illiness or divorce or any other number of things.

Sometimes there is more then one child in the family & the other children may then feel left out.

Having said this both the oldest daughter & step daughter have been away on quailty times with us camping or staying away in a motel just for the weekend.

Glad there were some postives for your family.

(((( Hugs ))))

Unknown said...

Actually, it was nice it's mother-daughter or significant female in the child's life. So Aunties, Grandmothers, Cousins could go too, the only requirement needing to be female. And sibilings - older and younger - could go too. There was at least one groovy granny there which was nice to see.
I actually never liked school camps, they ALWAYS seemed to be cold and wet, and we had cold communal showers, which was awful when you are reaching or going through puberty. And there were always ticks and leeches. Shudder.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fun weekend! I bet Miss 7 had a ball with you and glad to hear that there was some eye candy for you lol ;)

Kylie L said...

I loved this! So funny. :) "Mine- possibly going home" and "catching crabs" for a start! Sorry it was so damp, but what a great idea- I wish our school did that. Maybe at the Sofitel, though. ;)

life in a pink fibro said...

I"m with Kylie L - I'll all for 'glamping'. I'd need a mother/son camping trip and I can just see it ending in complete disaster. Would be funny though.

CATE said...

Great recap. Fun and wet, what a weekend, sounds like one to remember though :)

Unknown said...

Yeah, my idea of roughing it is a four-star hotel. Actually have to give full credit to the amazing woman who organised it all ... she really did a fab job co-ordinating it all. I want to be like her when I grow up.
And also, I found out there used to be a Daddy-Son camp, but eventually none of the men wanted to organise it. I'm not saying anything ....)