A few weeks ago, I volunteered to chaperone my niece’s 9th grade camping trip. This trip was for her Life Skills class and was a part of her final grade. I know nothing about camping! My idea of camping is what I see in movies. There was a time when I did want to experience nature. Though we all know that as we get older our inhibitions increase, and that desire to go camping had dwindled. It wasn't until my niece brought home the permission slip that my interest had been piqued, again. We got the list of items that we needed and were ready to take this ultimately eventful journey.
Two vans that divided nine ninth grade girls and five chaperones left for Carrollton, OH on a Friday afternoon for this two night camping excursion. This is where the fun began. The girls were broken into 2 patrols, with 5 on the other van and 4 on the van that I was on. About two hours into the ride, we stopped for food. We were pretty pressed for time, and as soon as we got back onto the turnpike, we found ourselves in the middle of standstill traffic…for exactly TWO whole hours!!! By the time we got back on the road, and arrived at the campsite, it was nearly midnight and very dark. Things were definitely not going as planned.
The two patrols grabbed their camping equipment, and began pitching their tents, with the help of lighting from a vehicle. After they were finished, they helped the chaperones with their tents. Once all of the tents were up, the girls wanted to change into their pajamas, and some needed to use the bathroom. The lady who ran the campgrounds led us to an outhouse (yes, an outhouse). Spiders were everywhere, and I was terrified. I have never changed so fast in my life! The girls were hysterical and we had to remind them that there were other people on the campgrounds. When we returned to the site of our tents, I retired to my personal tent and went to sleep. I struggled with falling asleep at first. Especially after my personal feat with a spider in my tent. Being that I was so close to nature and a bullfrog kept croaking…all night!!...sleep took a minute to take over. The girls kept the other chaperones up, as they “turned up” before turning in.
In the morning, myself and another of the chaperones awoke before everyone else and were going to go shower, and get dressed. That didn’t happen. The water on the camping grounds was supplied by a well, and the well had been broken. We walked around the campgrounds and to me, this place looked like a scene out of a horror movie (House of Wax and The Blair Witch Project come to mind). The crazy part is that the owner had at least six cats! It was creepy, but the scenery was beautiful! Not to make a fuss of the matter, we went back and woke everyone up, and the girls prepared breakfast. The teacher had gotten them the food that they requested and they rallied together to prepare their meals. I ate some oatmeal, and an apple. Truthfully, I really did not eat anything on the trip, because we all know that I don't mess with meat! Lol Also, I'm a picky eater and the lack of water supply wiped the allure of food away from me that weekend. Instead I ate apples and granola and drank plenty of water.
Once everyone had dressed, we set out for a morning hike. Now, I’ve never been hiking, so I was quite nervous. With our guide, we made our way to the hill and began to climb upward through the trees, and I was out of breath! The hill was so steep (to me at least) and I kept getting winded, along with a few of the girls. Once we made it to the top, I knew that it was worth it. Just looking out onto the calming and peaceful greenery, and the trees that were so tall they looked like they were built, calmed me. That must have been the calm before the storm, because what goes up must come down!
The guide on our hike gave us an option of going down the hill either through a forest of trees, or in the open as the sun beamed heavily on us. Of course we took what was behind door number one, and went through the trees. The ground was very wet from rain and we were sliding literally down a slippery slope. We had to hold onto trees covered in moss, with spiders EVERYWHERE and were attacked by bushes with thorns on them. Then we came to a cliff, with a creek under it. Had one of us slipped, we could have been seriously injured, but luckily no one was hurt. We did however have to walk on water (well the stones in the water) to get across to flat, and solid land. Once we made it over, we returned to the campsite for lunch, and then the girls enjoyed an afternoon of zip lining, swimming, and volleyball.
At the end of this highly eventful day, the girls built fires that they used to make s’mores, hot dogs on stick, and biscuits on a stick. In all seriousness, the biscuits on a stick were genius and really good (I love biscuits!). At nightfall, we sang camp songs and heard stories of bears, you know, to scare us. Afterward, it was bedtime, and I was out like a light! The next morning, we woke up and headed home.
This trip was very eventful so this is the amended version, because I could go on and on. Overall, I did enjoy myself on this trip, and I could see myself camping again. There was some conflict, but I believe that morale was boosted because of the need to work as a team. I had fun, and returned home with no bug bites, tan, or poison ivy exposure. It took me out of my comfort zone, and I had to really enforce a “mind over matter” mentality on this trip. Not only because I was a chaperone and I didn’t want to discourage the girls, but I because I wanted to show myself that I could survive that weekend (and I did!). Despite the ups and downs (literally), it was great trip and a great experience and ultimately a success.
The teacher had the girls play a game called "A Rose, A Thorn, & A Rosebud" (or something to that effect) to reflect on the good and bad of the trip. Here's mine :
Rose (something good) | That I took advantage of the opportunity to go camping, and that I got to do it with my niece.
Thorn (something not so good) | The downhill of the hike, because I was fearful of falling off of the cliff.
Rosebud (something having potential) | I can definitely see myself going camping, again!
Here are the top 5 essentials that I had (or realized that I needed on the trip with me):
Water! | So the list of required items said to bring a water bottle, so that’s what I did. I would advise bringing a case of water on the trip.
Insect Repellent | I used OFF! Explore and as I said, there were no bites!
Sunscreen | Hawaiian Tropic SPF 50 Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance. No sunburn or tan lines!
Hand Towelettes (Hand Sanitizer)/Baby Wipes/Face Wipes | Wet Wipes + Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes w/ Cucumber and Sage came in handy seeing that there was no water for the duration of our stay. I recommend a pack of baby wipes also.
Battery Pack | I’m not sure of the brand or model, but my sister let me use her rechargeable battery pack, and my phone stayed charged the entire time!