6 October 2009

not quite as quick and dirty as it was meant to be

What a day. Back to work after a wee break and found my day was lined up with three meetings, along with the gazillion emails and phone messages awaiting me, and the usual gumpf. I didn't even have time to stop for lunch, let alone anything else. And now I have a throbbing headache and blah blah blah tired, moody, grim and worried about Son #1 who left at 6.30am on the latest of his school camps.

Son #1, the vague 15 year old who starred in my previous post, is in Class 9, which in Steiner schools (here at least) is the year where they keep 'em busy by taking them on camp after camp after camp. And these camps are not the sort of camp where one sleeps in a bunk bed in a cabin, with a shower and toilet block nearby, and a canteen serving mediocre meals three times a day. Oh nooo. The first camp (of six) this year featured tents (buddy up with a partner and bring your own tent, camp stove, food etc), but after that they just slept on tarps out in the open, and if it looked like rain, well they pegged the tarps in a kind of triangular shape so one end gave them some shelter.

So we thought he was pretty well equipped with a really good sleeping bag that cost almost as much as a small car, a few tent pegs and a tarp, a decent backpack (last year's Christmas present), and one of those tiny Trangia camping stoves that runs on the whiff of a rag dipped in metho. Over the months we've got the hang of packing lightweight but easy to cook food, enough for five days or so and he has learnt to enjoy couscous and tolerate powdered milk and mountain bread wraps. Hey, we thought, we have become experts at this, and thank goodness because there are two more children coming along behind him who will go on the same expeditions.

But then the notice came home for this, the fifth (I think, I'm losing track) camp. The "healthy poverty", no technology camp. The four day camp for which they are instructed to bring no sleeping bag, no mat, no pack, no torch, no stove, no tent (duh) and no rainwear. Just one change of clothes (eeww), rolled up inside three woollen blankets and tied with a rope to be slung over one shoulder. Also, one dilly bag (to be home made over the holidays) to carry food, candles, matches and a billy. The school will provide each student with a sturdy rope and a large sheet of black plastic which will be their ground sheet, raingear, and protective layer around their swag. They will cook over an open fire using only their billies and water from the river.

And now my baby is out there in the wilderness with no shelter, sleeping in his clothes and three woollen blankets. Eating couscous and river water.

Today? It has rained and hailed and returned to winter.

The forecast for the rest of this week? Rain, showers, rain, cold, more rain.

*****************************************************************************

Thank you everyone for your wonderful book suggestions and offers. I haven't got a hope of getting back to everyone individually, especially as Blogger doesn't give me your email addresses, but please accept my thanks here. You are good good people.

Here, have a look at the worm Mr Soup found the other day. Ginormous.

ginormous worm

18 comments:

Stomper Girl said...

Your children are going to find backpacking round Europe in their early 20s a complete doddle. Luxury pure lookshoory.

He's probably loving it. Tell yourself that anyway.

Jolie said...

um wow - i can understand your worries given the weather. But seriosuly, what are these teachers thinking...can you even imagine what the inside of the bus is going to smell like on the way home with a load of sweaty, wet, hormonally charged teenagers with no recent history of personal sanitation....hmm, tasty!!!
(ps if you need to get hold of me to make book demands try tropical soup at gmail :)

Mare said...

Oh dear! I'd be feeling the same. My son heads off on leadership camp tomorrow but it's a much more civilised affair (ie sleeping bags and pillows allowed). It's all character building stuff and I'm sure your sone will have plenty of stories to tell when he comes home.

eurolush said...

Fingers crossed that he ends up having a great adventure--rain, sleet, winter weather and all.

I imagine a few days under those conditions and he'll be able to handle whatever life throws at him.


PS-Remember...boys love that kind of stuff--its scrubbing pots they detest.

Angel Jem said...

I'm sure he'll learn plenty on camp...... but poor you, wondering and worrying.

kim at allconsuming said...

I know I'm meant to be offering you tons of support and love and reassurance here, but instead I'm laughing. Laughing.out.loud.

kim at allconsuming said...

healthy poverty my arse.

rachel said...

Just like the first day at school - child fine, mother wrung out.

You know in your heart it will be fine. There must be a sensible adult around somewhere! And if it's not all that fine, it should certainly be character-building....

Keep us posted!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Yes , what's healthy about poverty ? Still , at least they weren't expected to hobble there barefoot .....or is that the next camp ?

innercitygarden said...

In year 9 or 10 my brother went on a school trip to Tasmania. In winter. Not for any educational reason you understand, but because it was cheap. There were storms the night they went on the ferry, and he was the only person in the group who didn't throw up on the way. He loved it.

Yesterday I would cheerfully have sent the toddler off on camp.

Fairlie said...

I'm more of a fan of healthy luxury myself. Isn't camping the reason hotels were invented?

I'm sure there is some wisdom about suffering making you stronger or something...but I'm happy for your son to find out if that's right and report back.

travellersyarn said...

I'm sure that your son is going to discover previously unrecognised inner strength, but it does seem a fairly brutal way to get there!

Please let us know how he is when we returns.

peskypixes said...

ummmmmmmmmmmm didn't it rain last year when he went camping?????

I am with Kim....I too..... am laughing......oh my stars..what are these people thinking ???ROFL!!!

oh yeah...hugs...;)

katiecrackernuts said...

Oooh, that all sounds kinda good to me. He'll be fine. Honest. A little rain and cold never killed anyone. (DISCLAIMER : Am off to Google whether rain and cold ever killed anyone, I won't be back for some time if I find it has).

PS: I camped with 300-plus kids on a similar camp a couple of years back, and it rained, and was cold, and five of my Guides were camped in a ditch that became a raging torrent and one against a log that also housed an ants nest. Funny all those girls, except the one we sent home in the first couple of hours of rain, are still Guides.

blackbird said...

And to think I had always admired the Steiner school model. Though I'm sure this experience will give him immeasurable experience and help him move through the world in ways I cannot hope to understand, I, as a fellow mum, would be somewhat distracted during his absence.

Tania said...

Man those Steiner schools breed 'em tough. The way I figure it (oh, so easy with the oldest half your sons age) you get to do all your worrying NOW. Once he's back and survived it (and no doubt loved it) you'll never have to worry about his capacity to look after himself again.*

* well ok, at least in situations where it's bloody freezing and things are very stinky.

librarygirl said...

Year 9 blues - we have it here too!
Roll on year 10 I say.

SharonH said...

Read the last sentence to this piece wrong suse!!!! I read 'Here, have a look at the worm we found in the SOUP the other day' It will teach me to skim read pickiking up the main points...