Camping with 100 5th graders

I volunteered to chaperon a camping trip with Mia’s 5th grade class. This is a tradition at Springdale park elementary to send off the 5th graders with a fun bonding experience. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into but wanted to see her with her friends and in the school environment. Camping was really staying in a summer camp kind of a place for 2 nights in Ocoee, Tennesee. Rustic and bare but not a “tent camping”, yes it had AC so the real outdoorsy folks rolled eyes. I was perfectly fine with that arrangement 🙂

The lodge where I chaperoned had 40 girls in 8 rooms/3 bathrooms. It was 5 women chaperones in 2 rooms/1 bathroom. Within an hour, there were shoes, socks, water bottles everywhere. Within 2 hours, we answered dozens of politely asked questions on snacks, food, itineraries and handled requests for room swaps. The hypotheticals on what would happen if they didn’t follow or flexed the rules we set were the best though. “So let’s say, we didn’t go to bed at the prescribed time, but talked and went to a different room – would that be a problem?” “What if, someone forgot to flush the toilet” “When the lights are out and we would like to switch rooms, will you hear us?”. I mean kudos for trying but CIA agents we are clearly not breeding here.

Overall – I was incredibly impressed with the “culture” and demeanor of the whole class of 102 kids. I blogged about it on LinkedIn as we have a lot to learn from the small people. Here is how I’d summarize the rest:

  • Camping in AC lodge is not camping – yet sleeping on wooden plates and on the bunk is at the same time uncomfortable (as you need to keep your ear up all night #1 as to who is out and puking or crying) AND best bed ever if you are asleep in a second on night #2 after 14 hours of standing on the sun outside.
  • Teen slumber party with 40 girls is strangely fun and new if you have a daughter like Mia whose idea of fun playlist is AC/DC and Metallica. Who is Demi Lovato (half kidding)
  • Mud race is not for me – didn’t think so – but just reaffirmed it. Army crawls through mud with spiders and snakes will never be my cup of tea – kudos to all the chaperones and 99% of the kids who walked into it with huge smiles.
  • You can survive without data/wifi – its strangely freeing – yet, you go and run to that one shady area where wifi works everytime you are close by
  • City people are used to their variety and quality of food – you need to miss it to appreciate it. Large volume cantina cooking primarily for kids is a great for your diet but then – there are no other options so you will eat anything anyway.

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