Category Archives: camp

Big 10 Mom

badgers tickets

Yes, that is my desk. Yes it was a Monday morning and I had plenty of work that had to be done. And yes, I really do have that many screens.

This Monday marked the 7th year in a row (one year being a double with 2 kids involved) that I have been in charge of making sure my little Badgers are able to get their season student football tickets. If you know anything about attending a Big 10 school, you know what serious business this is.

When my daughter first went to UW you had to Fed Ex in your forms. For some reason I missed the last pick up and a friend and I drove frantically through town chasing down the Fed Ex truck. (yes, I have friends who would do this with me)

Why, you ask, is this my responsibility and not theirs? Let’s see, for at least 6 of these 7 years at least one of them was a counselor in the Adirondacks with no cell service and no computers. (worth doing it to know they could actually unplug for the summer) And this year, young Daniel is a working stiff, riding the Long Island Railroad at the exact time that the tickets went on sale.

I am happy to report I am 8 for 8 on season tics for my kids.

Next June I will have that same bittersweet feeling about not having to do this as I had when I did not have any camp trunks scattered all over my living room the second week in June.

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Goat brothers

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I love this name. Goat Brothers. Are they goat men? Is this their family name? Are they simply goat like in their behavior?

The thing I love about being in the Adirondacks is that I can go to a bar with something like this on display.

I don’t believe I have ever been to a swap meet. I may have to come back up here for this.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – Camp Trunks and Badger Tickets

For the past 13 years I have packed 22 camp trunks and duffles. When the kids were young, this was a process that started weeks in advance. I was old school and insisted upon sewing all the name tapes. Clothing and linens lined the living room with stacks of plastic boxes filled with quarters, phone cards (no cell service there), bug spray, bandaids… and every item that I could think of to keep them prepared. (still not sure what the thumbtacks were for)

The ritual of buying toiletries, packing them in plastic shoe boxes and having a ‘family mall day’ to buy new sneakers, socks and whatever else they needed, was part of the June frenzy that parenting spawns.

This year I have one kid heading back up to the Adirondacks for his 11th summer, his 4th as a counselor. The familiar comment, ‘the trucks go out on Monday’ that used to elicit a slight sense of panic deep in my soul was now answered with, ‘hey, maybe we should take them out of the attic’. And that comment was on Friday.

Family mall day yielded one item, a new pair of crocs. No new socks or sneakers were purchased; we have finally learned that 8 weeks at summer camp ruins them both and new ones should be bought at the end of the summer.

My boy has been a counselor of young kids for 3 years and can fold better than I can at this point. He has moved out of a dorm and into an apartment and packed to come home from Wisconsin on his own for the past 2 years. My role in this was more about tradition than real need. And the chance to share an activity that we both knew was probably going to be the last. Bittersweet, indeed.

This morning, that trunk and duffle – packed in under 2 hours – sat in the front hallway and the biggest excitement of the day was his waking at 8:15 to get online for the lottery for Badger season football tickets.

June is a whole different month than it was when they were little!

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Summer Camp Fortune

What is the shot my family would get this fortune in their Sunday chinese food order? We are the quintessential camp family. My son, as my daughter did before him, is going to attend his 11th summer at sleep away this year. They both beat my record of 9 years (same camp).

Gary had an idea to make xia ling ying t-shirts for the camp this summer.

The kids voted that down.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – There’s no place like camp

This sign hangs on the owner’s house as you enter camp. It just about says it all. It is hard to explain this to someone who has never been fortunate enough to find the kind of connection my family has found to this place. I have written about it before, more than once, actually. But I always seem to find just one more way of articulating a place that has meant as much to me as any other in my life.

It’s not just the camp, although it is sort of the sacred ground of both my own childhood and that of my kids. But the surrounding area is so amazing. There is a clarity about being there. The way the air smells. How the water feels. The chill of the early morning and the hot sun of midday. The stars at night. There is nothing like the great expanse of a starry night in those mountains. It is a sight I will never tire of.

No cell service. Winding roads through beautiful mountains. Clear lakes. It is all so untouched. Or as untouched as it gets these days. Back when we were kids there were party lines and no new houses. Cell hot spots and new homes have sprung up in the closest town, but not a lot. For the most part the place looks very similar to the way it did 30 years ago. What a gift, to be able to visit the scene of your childhood with so little changed. There are no words to explain that elation.

And the best part. The part that I will never tire of being thankful for, is that my kids know the exact same feeling. Their bond may even be stronger. Not just because it is still so current, but because these times allow them to keep the link to all those people so effortlessly.

Life is long and camp is short, but if you are lucky, you can carry it with you till the day you check out.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – Checking Out

I admit it. I am a connection junkie. I have a blackberry, a blog, accounts on facebook, foursquare, twitter and countless other ridiculous places I won’t admit. I post, share, ponder, like, friend, tweet, IM, BBM, text, and in my retro way I am known to send an occasional traditional snail mail thank-you note when old-fashioned sincerity is in order.

But this weekend I worked pretty hard at checking out. Nestled comfortably in the heart of the 6 million acre Adirondack Park, I stayed in a sleepy little town called… no, not Petticoat Junction. But pretty damn close. It is called North Creek. And it is a bustling metropolis compared to the town we were there to really visit, which is called Minerva.

Minerva… 12851. 28N. Say those three things to anyone who has been lucky enough to spend their summers at the sleep away camps in that town and a glazed look will come over their eyes. The air smells so sweet, the sky is that extra shade of blue, the lake tastes like nothing on this earth. The stillness of its mornings and the majesty of its sunsets are amongst the most beautiful experiences on earth.

But the true gift of this little jewel on earth is found in its lack of cell service. Yes, you read that correctly. I was thrilled to be technically untethered for a few days. And although North Creek prides itself in its relatively new hot spots, I can honestly say I tried my best to keep away from them as much as possible while I was in town. Sure I threw up some shots on facebook and even checked in on foursquare once just to see if there were venues that were listed, but for the most part…

I checked out.

And kids, I have to tell you, it didn’t suck. Somehow being there and letting go made me remember who I am on some level. Or perhaps it was who I want to be.

Again.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – Family and Friends

There is nothing like a picture perfect weather weekend to kick off the summer. But the weather was not the only thing that was perfect. We were fortunate enough to have been invited to 3 amazing BBQs filled with good friends with our family unit firmly intact for a few fleeting days. There are so few times that we get to spend as a family now, adding old friends and their kids to the mix is truly a gift.

BBQ number one was so very special because all the 21 year olds were there, many of whom have just returned with stories of their semesters abroad. Looking at all those faces I have known since nursery school, seeing their friendships still so strong and comfortable was such a joy. These are the people we have raised our children with. We have sat through graduations, in ER waiting rooms and everything in between with this crowd. This is our Community with a capital C.

BBQ number two was the campies. This crowd is filled with our friends and their kids who have all attended the same summer camp. The kids are mostly counselors – or retired counselors – with many stories of their own to add to the legacy of the ones that we tell. So much history. A culture like no other. We truly feel like we have come home when we are with this group.

BBQ number three was with more of the home crowd. A smaller group of 3 families that have been together from the very beginning. Their kids (and dogs) are like my own and we never take for granted how special their friendship is to us. Or how amazing their cooking is.

To all our hosts, thank you so much for the great times. And to my kids, thanks for humoring us and spending some time together. Something tells me you both are beginning to appreciate the time we are all together as much as we are.

And hell hasn’t even frozen over yet.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Olympic Malfunctioning Caldron and Other Fails

I waited all week for this. I LOVE the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I know it is a little corny but I can’t help it. And I have to say I was greatly disappointed. The last winter olympics opening ceremony in Beijing was so spectacular, this simply fell flat. Even the logo was so much cooler last time.

There was, however, one tremendous highlight for our family. The Canadian National Anthem was sung by a 16-year-old super talent named Nikki Yanofsky. And why do we care? Because not only is Nikki an alum of my kids’ camp, she was my daughter’s camper. Check out her official Olympic song here. It hit #1 on Canada’s itunes. Chills from this one. You go Nikki, we are very proud!

Back to the opening ceremonies. Here are my top 5 fails:

5. First half hour… painfully boring. I kept looking for the Cirque style bungee jumpers and fell short with beads and head dresses.

4. What was the criteria for being one of the dancers in the white outfits, did you just have to have legs?

3. Opera singer… OMG who thought it would be a good idea to do that after 11PM?

2. The speeches: 2 old guys droning on for 15 minutes after 11:30? Bilingually. Seriously!

And the number 1 fail of the ceremonies, the one we are sure that someone was fired for, the one that brought about all sorts of cursing behind the scenes (in French AND English) would be…

1. The caldron malfunction!

Although they were fortunate enough not to have a nipple show during this sucker, we did notice Wayne Gretsky getting awfully antsy waiting for those poles to rise.

All in all, this was a sleeper. Although we were quite fond of the suspended thing that had a Georgia O’keefe Tri-vaginal quality about it. I believe Larry knick-named it The Trigina. (another Urban Dictionary entry for sure).

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – All grown up… almost

Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made…

– John Lennon & Paul McCartney

If you have been reading along you know that my daughter left for semester abroad last week. I cannot put into words how wonderful it was to have her home this last month. The teenager that went off to college is long gone and a lovely, grounded, charming young woman came home in her place. She is all grown up.

Well, almost.

The day she was leaving I came upstairs to check on her last minute packing. There I found her carry-on in the hallway. And tucked away in between the hair mousse and the laptop, strapped in tight, was Chetley. Her main man since birth. Yes we realize ‘he’ is dressed in pink, many shades and patterns of it as a matter of fact as I have reconstructed his body on more than one occasion in the past 20 years.

If you know Jana personally, you surely know the Chetmeister. He has been through it all with her, the good and the bad. He sat perched on her bed at camp, from the first day as a nine-year-old to the last day as Senior Group Leader. When she was  a frightened five-year-old going into the hospital for neurosurgery to ‘get her neck fixed’, good old Chet went with her and sported a bandage on the back of his neck till her stitches came out. He proudly went off to college with her… this bear is a Badger through and through. And if I am not mistaken, Jew that he is, I think he even followed along on Birthright to Israel last summer. All that considered I don’t know why I imagined he would stay behind while she embarked on the adventure of her lifetime.

I truly had this whole going abroad thing under control all along. Gary and I are both so happy that she is able to have this experience. Many parents asked me if I was sad or nervous about her going. I am surely neither. I love her wings and the fact that she loves to use them.

But standing there at the top of the stairs, hours before we left for the airport, the sight of that teddy bear with his arm around the laptop just about did me in. Jana then and now just flashed before my eyes. Right in front of the door she slammed so often as a preteen that the latch is loose, sat the evidence that she was all grown up; and not completely – all at one moment.

They call them comfort items. The stuffed animals or blankets that children form an attachment to and use to self-soothe when they are young. Why has no one invented a comfort item for the moms when they find themselves in a moment like this.

Oh, that’s right, they call that VODKA!

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Time to Cry Tuesday – 55 precious minutes from the past

These days we take for granted the ease in which we document and share our memories. With digital cameras, smartphones and flip video we can share a moment in real-time with our entire network of friends and family without giving it much thought. Our children do not know a time when photos and videos were not shared before the sun rose on another day.

But back in 1974, just one lone Yale film student was cool enough to have a Super 8 camera at the summer camp I have written about so lovingly before. And that super(8), cool guy just happened to be my husband’s co-counselor and dear friend. As luck would have it, this Time to Cry Tuesday happens to be his birthday. So, Steve, this one is for you.

After thirty-five years, most probably buried in a box at his parent’s house, Steve uncovered an artifact like no other. The very Super 8 film that he shot in the summer of 1974. He burned a bunch of DVDs of that most incredible piece of history and shipped it back east to those of us that he knew would love it the most. Thanks to Dr. Jimmy as courier, we are now in possession of a copy of these 55 precious minutes from the past.

For those who have not read my gushing posts about this very special sleepaway camp, it is a place where 3 generations of my family have attended (yes, my mom went there). So did my husband, his siblings, my cousin as well as both our kids. The friends we made there are counted amongst some of our closest friends today, and their children are friends with ours. Ok, so my daughter’s boyfriend is the son of one of them, too. There it is all out in the open. One big happy family.

We watched this amazing footage with our son the other night. His love for the place is as strong as ours. And there, in silence as there was no soundtrack on Super 8, were the younger versions of ourselves and people we have known for all these years. To see the place in action, as it was back then, was such a gift. Not just to ourselves, but to our son as well. He hears the stories and knows the way we feel about the place, but for him to see that history come to life was such a joy. There we were, his age! Seeing not what has changed so much as what has remained exactly the same – the essence of the place. The traditions. The love. The complete and utter freedom to just BE. And do it with passion.

This young man of a generation that documents every move it makes stopped and sat in awe of a generation that was so very lucky to have that one lone Yale film student who took the time to painstakingly piece together that carefree summer for all eternity. In his own words:

I can’t believe it’s been hidden as if in the Grateful Dead vault for 35 years. But as that was my last summer of camp, it’s frozen in time for me there. I remember the fall of ’74… I spent three months cutting the thin little slivers of Regular 8 film on a tiny film viewer and splicing them together with tape.

Thank you, dear birthday boy, for giving us all back that magical summer, and letting us share it with our children.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visitLeaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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