Monday, June 29, 2009

The Hills Are Alive...

Prepare to be very, very jealous.

As of 7:30 this morning, all of my kids are gone for a week. Sort of.

Jake left for Scout Camp at 2:00 a.m. You read that right. Two. Ay. Em. Our scout leaders are lunatics. But that is a useful trait in your standard issue scout leader, so it’s all good.

Cori left for Girls’ Camp at 7:30 with her YCL crew.

Vanessa is actually a GC leader this year, and she’ll be heading up tomorrow. But she works full time otherwise, so she’s gone all day.

And David is working The Fireworks Job From the Bowels of Hell, putting in 14 hour days and then coming home stinky and catatonic. Bowls of mayonnaise create more ruckus than he does most nights.

So essentially, I have the next five days blissfully, completely, quietly to myself.

Of course, this experience has me thinking about the differences between girls’ camp and scout camp. Even the preparation for both is radically different, at least in this household.

Ness and Cori went shopping last week to start gathering supplies. It took them longer to prepare for camp than it did for God to construct the mountain they’ll be camping on. My husband made no fewer than six trips to WalMart, Target, Big 5, and Valium Express to complete their lists, except that last place, which completed his.

A typical list of essentials for girls’ camp reads something like this:

*Bug spray
*Industrial size toiletry bag
*Shoes for hiking
*Shoes for sitting around the campfire
*Shoes for if it rains on the other shoes
*Different shoes for if stuck-up Chelsea Brinkerhoff shows up at camp with the same hiking shoes as mine and then tells everyone I got mine in the kayak department just because her feet look like they were made by Mattel
*Journal with matching gel pen
*Camp cot because I am SO not sleeping on the ground
*Hello Kitty stickers for Beehive aged Secret Sister
*Jolly Rancher jellybeans for Secret Sister
*Lip gloss for Secret Sister
*Jonas Brothers trading cards for Secret Sister
*Hair doo-dahs and sparkly nail polish for Secret Sister
*Hand written notes of love and encouragement for Secret Sister
*Eight pounds of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups – NOT for Secret Sister, seriously, don’t even ask
*Photographic memory to capture every snotty look, gossipy remark, and sinister act of deliberate ignorage perpetrated by fellow campers
*Color coordinated Rubbermaid bins to store everything

On the other hand, if my son is any indication, the scout camp list includes the following:

*Duffel bag filled with Starburst and beef jerky
These are just the first indications that the kids are heading to two very different kinds of camps.

When the girls arrive at “Camp Celestial Marriage”, they’ll find all of the campsites linked together by clotheslines spray painted silver, from which hundreds of hyper-glittered pictures of all the temples of the world are suspended.

Each ward will have been assigned a temple, an Article of Faith, and a scripture out of Nehemiah, and all of their camp d├ęcor, skit scripts, and “singing in the trees” songs will be based on these topics. At the end of the week awards will be given to any campers who have not re-worded their scripture to include a line about leaders who force girls to hike being thrust down to the pit of endless woe and eternal aggravation. Tears will be shed.

Meanwhile, the boys are unloading their gear at “Camp Fartsalot,” and already they have run into trouble. It seems that, among 27 scouts, five scout leaders, three bishopric members, and a dad who fell asleep in the back of the pickup, not one has remembered to pack a change of underwear.

This is not the problem. The problem is there are no Council reps around to document the whole thing and sign off on everyone’s “Nasty Bum” merit badge. In the true spirit of scouting, the men and boys valiantly sit down on their duffels and begin a hearty lunch of Starburst and beef jerky, confident that the merit badge guy will mosey along some time before the end of the week.

Day one at Camp Celestial Marriage is progressing nicely. All the hair within a 20-mile radius has been French braided, the Beehives have begun their weeklong effort at driving the Laurels to homicidal distraction, and there has only been one slap fight, for which the leaders apologized and which they promised not to repeat.

Everyone has finished toll painting their inspirational wall hangings, which are displayed with boutique-like elegance throughout the site. Bumper sticker philosophies now beam down on anyone passing up the trail toward the “showers”:

“Happiness doesn’t pour from cloudless skies. It comes from learning to dance in the rain.”

“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

“If I ever find out who ate all my mini Reese’s peanut butter cups I will stick your French braided head in the latrine.”

The scouts (having finally received proof from the council guy that they really do have filthy laundry habits) now set off to begin earning additional merit badges. Each boy has a list of those badges he has not yet received, including such testosterone-intensive requirements as “Knitting”, “Puppy Hugging”, and “Life as a Mama’s Boy”.

Leaders are breathing out threatenings that if the scouts don’t earn these merit badges while at camp they can just forget about earning them back home, as they, the leaders, would rather front for Yanni than set aside valuable scout meeting time to work on them.

After all, there are only so many good ice-blocking Wednesdays available during the summer, and the scout meeting schedule is booked solid.

Being naturally predisposed to obedience and remembering what anyone says for longer than the time it takes to pass gas and blame it on the newest kid in the troop, the scouts solemnly heed the counsel of their leaders and immediately trot off to the archery range to earn their "Acupuncture" merit badges.

This will be followed up by the “Watch Where You’re Standing” merit badge, the “Here, Just Glue That Cut Together” merit badge, and the coveted “For Crying Out Loud Don’t Tell Your Mother How You Got That Scar” merit badge.

This is the only award that is actually the size and shape of a body cast. It’s a very useful merit badge.

Eventually, of course, it will be time to go home. After a lovely testimony meeting where there is so much bawling the lower campsites are washed into the ravine, and where the Laurels finally reveal the location of their Beehive hostages, the happy residents of Camp Celestial Marriage retire to their tents, and for the first time in five days, begin to question the wisdom of avoiding “those gross showers” and opting to tidy up using lemon scented Handi-wipes instead.

When the priesthood brethren arrive in the morning to break camp, they will conclude that, rather than face federal bio-weapons charges for bringing those tents back into the city, they should wrap the whole lot in C-4 and blow it to kingdom come. As veteran scout campers themselves, the men are completely in their element; some of them keep explosives in the glove compartments of their mini-vans.

The boys, of course, are sunburned to within an inch of their crusty adolescent lives. This is a good thing, as they are also so unfathomably dirty they were carrying several micro- and macro-organisms which, had they not been neutralized by frying that top layer of scout epidermis, would have upon arrival back in town mutated into such a powerful communicable disease as to wipe out the entire West Coast by Labor Day. So California had a narrow escape there.

Some time around noon on Saturday, all of the ward’s youth will spill out of well-ventilated SUVs onto the church parking lot, where they’ll be hosed off via industrial water truck.

Their remaining camping gear will be placed into hazardous waste containment units and shipped off to an undisclosed bunker for scientific study and eventual demolition, and Camp 2009 will be officially over.

After yet another decontamination shower and a comprehensive raid of the refrigerator, my kids will fall into a post-adventure coma and not wake up until it’s time to start destroying the house again.

At which time, they will earn the “My Mom Can Swear in Six Languages” merit badge.

That one’s my favorite.


SO said...

I seriously love the fact that you had the leaders having the slap fight. Too true.

I get to go to GC the last week of July. And we are totally doing a craft that has the "learning to dance in the rain quote" on it. Have you been spying?

Homer and Queen said...

You forgot to say how the scouts have a HUGE budget and the girls had to pay their own way!!!

Don't think I miss the YW calling, 4 star hotel for me babe!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Please tell me that "Camp Celestial Marriage" is not for real, because I really, REALLY want to make fun of it a lot.

And don't forget how the girls take along straightening irons and huge toiletry bags while the boys come home with more clean underwear than dirty, and toothbrushes that are still in the wrappers.

Melissa said...

I my gosh, just when I think you can't get any funnier, you do!

The leaders in a slap fight is HYSTERICAL!

Kristina P. said...



Brooke said...

When I was in YW, I whined & cried & begged our bishop to let me go to Scout Camp rather than our lame Girls' Camp. I think I even wrote a letter to the prophet, pleading my case.

It was denied, of course. Instead they called my mom to be Camp Leader all 4 years that I went. I don't think anyone else had the guts to take on the job.

She (thankfully) turned a blind eye when I skipped out of the "craft tent" every day and went to work on my tan. (And she was always the one, every year, who stole the bra from the most "well-endowed" leader and ran it up the flag pole.) :-)

brudcrew said...

Ahhhh, the memories!!

tammy said...

This is so funny because it's so true!

I found out a friend in my ward was trying to get me as the YW camp leader this year.

Needless to say, she is no longer my friend.

Melanie J said...

I hated Girl's Camp when I went and my memories haven't improved with time. AND, we stayed in bunk houses with venetian blinds and AC so I think if we had the tent thing going on, I really would have lost it. Then again, the tents wouldn't have actually been the problem.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Oh you really should write a book. Really! I'm wiping the tears.

Hey, my son went to scout camp today too. And my daughter went to Celestial Marriage camp too. The world wide theme must be temples.

your verifier say skupent. You better get on your knees and skupent for your sacrelig.

Hey SO, I haven't seen you in SOOOO long. I MISS YOU!

wendy said...

I think I'd belong in the "fartsalot" camp. hmmmhmmm. and what an honored merit badge "my mom can swear in 6 languages". that was a funny article for sure. thanks for you comment on my blog and those kind words.

Lara said...

While going through all the crap in my garage last week, I found my boondoggle necklace from Girls' Camp. Joel thought it was the craziest thing ever, and I was just reminded of how glad I am that I got out of going to Girls' camp these past two years, despite my YW callings. I would prefer not to be in the slap fight.

Heidi said...

Oh my goodness! So funny, and SO TRUE!! :) This is one of my favorites.

By the way, I think you must be in the same ward as an acquaintance of mine. Her boys left at 2AM today, too!

The Garden of Egan said...

You are so totally in tune! Need I say more? Probably not, but I'm gonna.
So ya, I got back from Girls Camp last week. Mercy, the fluff! Every moment was a spiritually packed moment of total wonder.
My friends son came home from Scout Camp last week....she asked him when the last time he brushed his teeth was. He answered "Monday morning when you made me"
She was pretty certain he had a weeks worth of food in his braces. I was totally dry heaving. I wouldn't let the girls out of their tent until they had performed hygenic miracles.

I hope you enjoy your week. I suggest that you MAKE them take their clothes to the laundromat and not return until it is all washed folded and put away.

MommyJ said...

When I picked up my young women for girls camp and loaded all their gear into the back of my husband's truck, I remember thinking...

"WHAT on earth are they packing in here?!" I mean seriously. We were gone for three days. That's it. But NOW I have it figured out. They were using your camp list to pack...

Funny, funny post. And OH so true.

Motherboard said...

O-butt-crack-thirty? Your scout leaders are ON crack. Good greif!

Thing 1 went on the Pio-nerd trek today. She looked adorable!

Are you not supposed to get in slap fights with the other leaders? That's a daily thing around my neck of the woods!

(I hung with Amber today... jealous??)

InkMom said...

You are a genius. I shouldn't tell you that, but you are.

Every year at GC this one girl would get up really early to shower, dry her hair, do her makeup and make sure she looked fantastic (and waaaaay better than the rest of us) for the one male in camp: the lifeguard, who was pimply and scrawny and not at all the kind of boy I was into. Ever heard of karma? Every single year, she had to go home early because she got bitten by a black widow spider. I saw the bites -- it was legit!

And as much as I would LOVE to have you speak at our women's conference, along with Steph and Melanie J (and I say that with all sincerity) I think we might be a little in trouble with the powers that be if we uninvite the General Relief Society President. And our area 70. I'm just saying.

And now you understand why this conference is consuming every ounce of brain power I have this summer!

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

I so hate you becasue you are so stinkin' funny.

I had a son once who was as exciting as a bowl of mayonaise. Do you think we could be related?

Karen said...

I sort of miss Girls' Camp.

myimaginaryblog said...

Augh! This post seriously made my blood pressure go through the roof because in my warm-fuzzy memories of girls' camp I'd totally forgotten about the incredible levels of fluff and over-scheduling, and I'm realizing that when I'm called to Young Women's and have to go to camp (in a few years, I'm sure, now that I have three daughters and one is 3 years away from YW) that I'm going to be expected to help orchestrate all this mindless stuff. I hated it then and I hate it now. I DO love campfires and hiking and singing, so I was thinking camp wouldn't be too bad, but this all-too-true post has made me realize I've been delusional. DRAT! Can I be the first YW leader to give the girls a little actual free time, spend the rest of the time hiking and learning the names of wildflowers, and skip all the decorations and cutesiness?

P.S. My son left for an overnight campout with the 11-year-old scouts a few weeks ago without a jacket or even a long-sleeved shirt. In the mountains in early June in a rainy year. And I'm sure he's never changed his underwear on a campout. So, yeah.

myimaginaryblog said...

P.S. I realized I forgot to say that my son did come back alive (one of his leaders loaned him his jacket.)

Sarah said...

Well... it is obvious that you have been to girls camp more than once!

Rachel Sue said...

The overwhelming rush of memories. . . execept substitute the slap fight for a food fight. . . Yep. That about sums up my GC experiences.

aunt dyanne said...

WHAT???? no call out your dead and goosepimply freak the girls out to the point of emesis and nightmares 'ssaaaaaayyyy-aaaahhhhnnncssssssss? Nothing quite like being the only person over age 17, 27 girls under the age of 17 and even the priesthood ditched....good thing I had my "bud-light" baseball bat with me for the bears... just saying.

Thanks for the hysterical post - since we just finished girls camp here and at the last minute bagged the mountain mudslide terrain for the local water park/trailer park back lot. Nice.

AS Amber said...

I LOVED girls camp. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it!!! Every single year. In fact, the only reason I'm gong to church again is so they'll ask me to go to girls camp next year.

And I'd be very jealous except my older two kids just left for their dad's for two weeks so it's just the three of us for a while. Luckily Harley is sick so that's way fun!

And what's "YCL" group?

Hel said...

Sassing and threat of violence?!! This blogging business is getting dangerous!

For fear of my life I will tell you that my years as a "happy camper" usually included rain and at least one emotional breakdown each time.

My dad was bishop when I was an adolescent (not fun!) and thought a good idea to combine the ym and yw camps one year. It rained (of course) and my clothes were the only ones to get saturated. My sister, thinking she was being nice, decided to string my clothes up all over the campsite to help them dry.

Never mind that she included my underwear in the stringing up and they were still in full view when the boys came back from their hike. Bah.... Camp.

Jami said...

Brilliant, simply brilliant!

charrette said...

This is HYSTERICAL! I'm just wondering how you wrote this all in solitary confinement because it sounds for all the world like you've been spying on both!

My daughter's at Girls' Camp this week. We seriously bought the glitery hair doo-dahs for secret sister!

--Why they couldn't have coordinated the son's cub scout camp I'll never know. Very, very jealous.

AS Amber said...

Ok, sister. I got the word out to my peeps about the meet and greet but I don't know how to reach your peeps.

So I'm leaving this comment in the hopes that people will come back and read your comments like I do!

There will be a meet and greet with Mrs. Backordered Life on July 10th. It'll be a dinner. In Salt Lake area. Please email me at to RSVP.

val of the south said...

I was just having that discussion with my mom (minus all the great humor) because my son and daughter just went to their camps and the prep, planning and camps were truly worlds apart. My son's packing list actually said "change of underwear" for 4 days!!! Glad to see it's universal!

Lisa Loo said...

I have not been invited back to girls camp since the squirrel in the latrine debacle of 1995 even though they couldn't prove it was me.

Ooo! Ooo! My word verification is angri

Those women were angri at me!

Debbie said...

I never had brothers so I only heard about Scout Camp but thats pretty much just how I imagined it.
Girls camp on the other hand was almost spot on, just add in 1000 mosquito bites for me.

Migillicutty said...

I just got home from girls camp (like an hour ago), and what you said is all SO true (especially the part about bawling at testimony meeting)

Cook Family said...

I LOVED this entry. I went to my first year of Girls Camp this year - as a leader, and it was my sons first year of Scout Camp.