Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Do you canoe?
Don't believe me? Well, I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I am not the least bit adventurous. My idea of excitement is to pick up a good book and to get lost in it. If I'm feeling like taking a huge risk I might rent a movie to experience some vicarious adventure. And a great adventurous vacation would be some combination of the above while at the beach. In New Jersey.
But I have to admit that there have been times in my life when I have surprised even myself. One of those times was when I volunteered to be the female counselor on a week-long canoe trip in New York. That was the week of the crash-course in rowing, steering, portaging, and living on the water so I could co-lead a group of teens through the rivers of New York.
It all started about 30 years ago (boy, does that make me sound old, or what?) when my parents took our family and a group of young adults to a church camp in Vermont called Bethany Birches Camp. It was a work trip and our job was to ready the camp for the summer camping season. I fell in love. With the camp, not a person.
In 4th grade I had tried church camp in the Poconos. That was my one and only year as a camper and I hated it. First of all, the food was disgusting and I nearly starved to death. Secondly, all they did was have competitive sporting tournaments between cabins. I'm not competitive nor athletic. I almost got killed by a wayward street hockey stick. Third, the place was filled with the same folks who didn't give me the time of day 9 months out of the year. They certainly weren't going to change their habits for 1 week in the summer, even if they were told in daily devotions and firesides that their behavior was unacceptable. I almost died from loneliness.
So who would have guessed that I'd fall in love with a camp? And certainly no one would ever have guessed that I'd end up returning there for two summers, first as a junior counselor and second as a counselor. And the biggest surprise of all came when I volunteered a third summer, to fill the vacant position of canoe camp counselor.
Believe it or not, I loved each of my summers at Bethany Birches Camp. This was no sissy camp, either. No cabins here; we slept in shelters. No flushing toilets; we shoved leaves down a hole to create compost. No cafeteria for meals; each meal was lovingly and painstakingly cooked by moi over an open fire that I started myself. In fact, at the end of one week my campers created a wonderful remake of the song The Other Day I Met a Bear with a chorus that highlighted my fire-making talents: She lights the fire with just one match. We're proud of her. We won't send her back. Who said I didn't have any noteworthy achievements in my younger years?
By the third summer, however, I needed to make more money than a church camp could pay their staff. That summer I worked in daycare at a local church. The church always closed the daycare for one week while the church held VBS. I used the excuse to contact Bethany Birches and to offer my services for the week. I envisioned myself in many different roles, but none of those visions included canoeing. But, we already know how that turned out.
So to Jesse, as you head off to the great unknowns of the Delaware River, I have this advice: Make your mother proud!