What I Learned At Summer Camp – Part 1

Week 1 and 2 of my little art camp have flown by, and I’ve been meaning to blog about the experience, but to be honest, it has just been one task too much for me.

My days have started at 6.00am and involved getting myself ready, getting my kids ready, getting four sets of lunches and snacks packed for the day (while dealing with cries of “Eww! I don’t like that yoghurt” and “SHE likes blueberries and bananas, I ONLY like apples!!”), gulping down a cold breakfast, and then limping to my car with a five year old holding onto my leg wailing, because his sister is leaving with me.
My action packed day with the campers ends around 5.00pm, and then my attention shifts to my kids, their swim practice, dinner, hiding the fart gun, and bedtime.I have been a little tired.

Having said that, I think I am building up some resistance to my increased levels of activity, and should be back blogging regularly by next week.

I was thinking of writing about what the kids did over the last weeks, but then I thought I would switch things around a bit and tell you about…

…WHAT I LEARNT AT CAMP (important lessons, my friends)!! :

  1. Never, NEVER forget the Band Aids when you go outside. Don’t even think about it, just don’t.
  2. When playing Apples to Apples, be literal. Irony doesn’t work for 4th graders.
  3. Vintage Sesame Street animation did not impress this generation at all. They found it too simple, and complained about the poor screen resolution (philistines).
  4. The older kids will insist that they are too old for it, but the moment I start reading aloud to the campers, there is a pin drop silence, and intense concentration on their faces. They love being read to (awww).
  5. Printmaking, any type of printmaking makes kids super happy.
  6. Cleaning up after print-making has the opposite effect on them.
  7. The calmest moment of all was when I gave the kids a pack of cards and asked them to build a house of cards. I have never seen them so focused and determined for so long – definitely doing that again.
  8. A couple of spray bottles of water and a box of sidewalk chalk are great things to have during outdoor breaks.
  9. Kids love to teach, and they are good at it. I learnt to throw a football the correct way, pitch a baseball, hold a cricket bat better, play Capture the Flag and Wall ball. Next week they are going to teach me about Minecraft and paper airplanes.
  10. If you start a conversation with a 3rd/4th grader about Percy Jackson, you had better be ready to give up about an hour of your time, and don’t even think about glazing over – they’ll catch you at it.
  11. Vigilance is key during lunch times. Elementary school kids will eat their lunch and all their snacks at once, then cry because their stomach hurts, then spend the rest of the day saying “I’m staaarving, my mom/dad didn’t pack me enough food!” 
  12. Bodily functions – that is what humor is all about for these kids. The fart gun keeps them laughing uncontrollably for long periods of time, and who am I to complain?

Now for the (very amateur) pictures:

More next week!

Four More Days Until Camp!!!

I tremble ever so slightly as I write this.

I don’t know why I get so nervous leading up to camps, I mean, I’m experienced, I’m prepared: I’ve written the curriculum, I have the materials and I know what I’m doing – what’s the big deal???

It’s just me.
To be honest, I get nervous about pretty much any new endeavor, even driving to a place I’ve never driven to before freaks me out a little! The weird thing is, I can’t survive without those freak out moments. I like change, even change that scares me, so I often find myself out of my comfort zone, swearing to myself silently, and promising that ‘I’ll never do this again’ – but I do, I always do!

My kids are like this as well, I think most kids are. In fact, I think one of the reasons that I get along with kids so well, is that certain aspects of my ten-year-old persona have stuck with me permanently. I find it very easy to empathize with kids about a lot of things.

Last Week
Last week, we drove up to the beach for my birthday. We ate snacks very messily (my son in particular) and listened to many audio books on the way. One audio book that we love listening to is Roald Dahl’s The Twits. It is so very, very silly and disgustingly funny, and my stomach ached from laughing at it uncontrollably. Later on, my nine year old daughter and I kept retelling all the yuckiest bits of the story over and over again, guffawing to ourselves, while my husband listened to us with a fixed expression of polite patience on his face.
When we got to the beach, we played in the water and sand, I spotted a shark and had a ‘minor’ panic attack, my son built many sand castles, and I built a sand dinosaur that my daughter walked all over by mistake (how do you not notice a sand dinosaur?). On July the 4th, it literally rained on our parade, the fireworks and carnival were cancelled, everything was closed, so the kids spent the evening in our hotel room watching a movie and eating microwave popcorn. We lived through it, and many other tiny disappointments, and awesomely fun moments, and came back happy and exhausted.

The vacation made me remember another, very important, fact about kids: they are much more forgiving than adults. Children are still learning the ropes, when it comes to life, and are the best people to be around when you make a mistake, or an idiot of yourself. Fall off your bike, snort juice out of your nose while laughing, forget to pack tennis balls with your racket, or sit on paint (as I did in the Great Noctiluna Camp of ’13) and it’s okay, as long as you can take a bit of mild teasing.
Every time I remember this fact, I feel much less nervous about the next six weeks, because I know I’m going to be with my most favorite people, and it’s going to be awesome!!