These past few days, daughter and I were at She & Me camp. It is a mother/daughter program of the Girl Scouts and held at the camp that our troop usually goes to. Daughter has been wanting to go to GS residential camp for a few years, but couldn't get any of her friends interested in going with her. It just isn't as fun to go by yourself (especially when you are already a huge introvert). So, this seemed like a great chance to spend some time together and an opportunity for her to experience it. I LOVED residential camp when I was a kid. I still have fond memories of Camp Tahigwa.
I thought a lot about how to write about the experience. It was such a mixed bag. Did Daughter have fun? Yes! Did she get a full camp experience? Yes! Did we get to bond? Yes! Were the counselors as fun as I remember? Definitely Yes! Would we do it again? I am not so sure. Honestly, for the price it cost, I am seriously thinking of planning my own mother/daughter trip to Trout Lodge instead. Why? Glad you asked ;-)
First, the INCREDIBLE amount of rules. I have never experienced anything like this before. I want to say, I do understand why they have rules. If I was a counselor in charge of a bunch of 7 year-old, rules are helpful and for safety. But, the extent they went to got to be a little crazy (especially since a parent was there with their child). For instance we were not allowed to leave the dining table until we had drunk three glasses of water. Additionally, the glasses were only allowed to be used for water - not milk as one mother learned very quickly. I get that it is hot outside, but I felt like a child. You also could not leave any station without a full water bottle that you had to carry at all times. I would like to note, we were not in a dessert. The distance between camp sites was not extreme. There was water everywhere, staff everywhere, and a nurse on site. Another example is the pool. Both groups of She & Me participants had to wear red wrist bands. This was to show that we could not swim in the deep end (which is another frustrating story). Well, we all get to the pool and one little girl doesn't have hers on. Mind you EVERY one at the pool is with She & Me - therefore, there is a guardian for every girl. They would not let her get into the pool until she got another wristband. Seriously?! To quote the lifeguard "it is a rule." I can not tell you how many times I heard that phrase.
Second, all the cleaning. I did not PAY to go to camp to clean up after other people. I know that doesn't sound very nice, but the very first night we were there - we had dining hall clean-up. We haven't been there even three hours and I am sweeping and mopping the huge floor. We also had to wipe down the bathrooms and take out the trash. Our counselors generously scrapped all the plates for us. We got stuck doing this three times. We were not the only group there, there were a couple of other kid only programs going on. It was so frustrating to be looking forward to spending some time with my daughter, only to have it spent cleaning. I have no problem cleaning our own camp site - I would expect that (which we did have to do), but in addition to the daily dining hall clean-up, there was also an end-of-camp clean-up assignment (we got the craft area & trash hike). I felt like a significant portion of our camp experience was spent cleaning. Not fun.
Finally, there was a strict schedule. If Daughter and I hadn't been lucky enough to get there early - we would not have had any opportunity to go hiking. (which we could only do with another pair b/c you have to hike in groups of four!!) The days were very scheduled. This was plus and minus. We got to do fun things like canoeing and tie-dying, but left no time for exploring and relaxing. Several of the parents were upset with this. I think we all had this image of doing some scheduled activities, but having plenty of time to do what interested us. This was not the case. I don't know if it was miscommunication in the program description or we just all didn't read the fine print very well.
I am glad Daughter got to experience what camp is like, but I am disappointed we were so restricted in what we could do. I am looking for an experience that Daughter and I can have that lets us choose what we want to do and explore that day. It was hard to live within such confines. Now that I have had some space, the negatives are starting to fade, and the fun things are floating to the top. I am going to just focus on them, because, overall, it did accomplish my goals.