This weekend, I will be heading up north to spend some time at the Glen Bernard Camp as a part of the “The Unconvention” hosted by the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO). I’m going to be leaving my laptop at home – so, no emails, no Twitter, no Facebook. My phone will only be used for texting with my loved ones. I can forget about the job economy and do yoga in the mornings, tell ghost stories around the campfire, and watch the stars twinkle from between the tree branches outside my unheated cabin. It will be glorious.
Now, obviously, not everyone enjoys going to camp. As a child and young adult, I had several uncomfortable camp experiences. I abhorred the thought of camp mostly because of the close, almost unbearable, proximity that it forced me to maintain with other people. I value privacy above all things, and a night of hearing restless (possibly snoring) bodies in nearby bunk beds was not an alluring thought. I also learned to distrust the overly toothy and fake smiles of the camp councilors – their cheer always seemed to rush forth with renewed vigour as they made us do embarrassing things like sing, dance, or talk about our summers so far (why are they always so chipper, anyways?). I got up earlier than the other children; I ate differently than the other children; I chaffed at being told what and when to do certain activities.
These were probably good learning experiences for me to have, regardless. I recall attending several horse-related camps in grade school, as well as going to Shad Valley for a month in my high school years. More than anything, during those weeks I missed being able to do my own thing and wander off into the woods. I learned that I am a pro at entertaining myself with very little expense and I largely resented the enforced niceties with the other children (I was also leery of them vomiting in the lunchroom). I play much better with the ‘team’ these days, but I still like to think for myself and that does not involve drink boxes at 10am, Lunchables at 12pm, and team-building exercises at 2pm.
So I’m going to do my best to smile and play along this weekend. But, honestly, I’m just looking forward to breathing the cool, crisp air of the not-city and feel the heat of the campfire on my night-chilled legs. If anyone so much as suggests that I sing The Muffin Man or Yankee Doodle, I will be drifting off to examine the closest tree with rapt attention.