The “advanced” ropes course. Copyright TaraKA & The Tara Chronicles, 2016.
Okay, not really. Nobody got head lice. And, before I get sued for slander, nobody got head lice at North Bay.
We arrived back at camp around 8 a.m. just as everyone was lining up for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, and home-fried potatoes. I sat with many of the same women as the day before, and sipped my coffee as the conversation turned to last night’s dinner. V and I left before dinner last night because I had to pick Opac up from football practice by 6, so we missed out on the “tacos.”
They were served a bowl of meat that resembled ground beef, but the texture was more like turkey. Or was it chicken? They didn’t know. There was a great deal of speculation over it, now that there was enough distance between the meal itself and the present time.
Somehow the conversation segued into a discussion about the helmets used for the ropes course and zip lines, and the mom leading the food debate regaled us with head lice tales that curdled my coffee. Someone wondered aloud if they sprayed the helmets before each kid used them. All it takes is one kid, and one nit…. And then another mom told an equally sordid tale of her head lice ordeal, and I began to feel waves of anxiety washing over me like hot and cold water. I’m positive my efforts to keep my eyes from popping were in vain, and I’m sure my reaction helped fuel the conversation.
I’ve never been so relieved to have a meal come to an end, though I thoroughly enjoyed my new companions. Our group then set off for our first activity of the day: the ropes course. Where the kids would don harnesses, and … helmets. As the girls lined up to put on their gear, the knot in my stomach grew tighter and tighter until I couldn’t differentiate whether it was caused by the breakfast conversation or my fears for Veruca’s safety. (A couple of weeks ago a woman fell to her death at a zip-lining place in nearby Delaware, and it was still very fresh in my mind.)
North Bay’s philosophy is to leave the challenge choices up to the kids, so there’s never any pressure. Three of the girls sat out, and then a fourth stepped out of the line and joined them. Veruca had a few moments of uncertainty, and I said nothing. I was very careful to allow her to make the choice, and she decided to go for it. My heart in my throat, I videoed her navigation right up to the end. Afterward, she wrote in her North Bay journal that she was “terrified.”
Our counselors then led us through a wooded trail to a circular clearing with benches all around for a team-building lesson. The lessons were aimed at learning each other’s names, and working together to complete tasks – like lining up in order of birthdays, in complete silence, without anyone saying a single word. They finished up by having to clear a swinging jump rope, first alone, and then in groups of three – all without being touched by the rope.
Lunch followed and there was another edition of what’s in the foil that turned out to be a hamburger. I ate the salad and some fruit, and avoided the dayglo-orange jello surprise with chunks of fruit in it. The kids at a nearby table were holding up slices of it and examining it like a science project.
Lesson 2, “Wetlands,” took us to a large outdoor deck set high above the wetlands below, and overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. It was stunning. I zoned out on the view while the counselors conducted the lesson, and tried not to focus on the 90-degree temperatures. At the conclusion, we trekked to the outdoor Wetlands lab, where the girls pulled on their water shoes/rain boots/etc. and trudged into the water to collect samples. The other chaperone and I huddled on an outdoor step in the shade, and eventually we were joined by K who was low and trending low (CGM said her blood sugars were continuing to go down) and again she turned to me for advice on what to do. She sat with me for a while and snarfed down Smarties and guzzled water.
The Wetlands lab. Copyright TaraKA & the Tara Chronicles, 2016.
It was oppressively hot. I gave up trying to wipe the sweat off the back of my neck and pulled my hair up into a not-so-attractive tiny pony tail. We returned to the cabin to change shoes, and then headed to Horseshoe Point to the art classroom. The instructor there led us out to the beach to choose a piece of driftwood and shells/any other materials the girls would like to use for their project.
This was followed by the zip line activity, and this time Veruca said no way. At this point I left to pick up Opac, and left V at camp with her group. I returned just after dinner started, and checked up on her meal choices and insulin bolus. I don’t remember what was served. I didn’t eat, since I had treated Opac to McDonald’s and I kinda-sorta ate something there too. Our group was assigned to spend time at Horseshoe Point after dinner, which made V happy since she got to eat Cotton Candy ice cream again. We killed time in there until North Bay Live! started.
Each day of camp concludes with a show – North Bay Live! – with music and performances and a 3-part TV show called Toobie about young people making wrong choices, the consequences of those choices, and how they might make different choices. The kids absolutely loved this freaking show – we missed the first episode because we left before dinner – and the simple mention of it sent them into raucous cheering. The noise inside the theater was deafening, but at least we had air conditioning. And there was a rat.
Not a real rat, but a grown man in a giant rat costume who came to talk smack with the two hosts of the show, and it all boiled down to not bullying people and accepting one another for who they are, differences and all. It was great. The kids were hysterical, and the only thing that would’ve made it better for me would’ve been an extra-large margarita. And a pillow.
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