Tuesday, May 22

Knapsack on Her Back

The day of much anticipation and early packing, planning, shopping and re-packing has finally arrived! Yes, it is time for the ISH four-day Year 6 camp.

Traditional in Dutch schools, and our own International school, this yearly excursion with students and teachers is the highlight of the year for the oldest students of the Primary school.
This week is something they have been thinking about and planning for all year long.

In a very few minutes from the writing of this post, Emma will board a chartered bus along with 54 other children and 3 teachers and will journey to the east into the province of Gelderland for a never-to-be-forgotten camp experience.

Parents weren't even invited.

They will be staying at a hostel in Gorssel, The Netherlands which was once a residency for the royal family. In my estimation that makes it pretty grand digs for camping.

The activity roster for the week includes cycling tours, canoeing, swim sessions, lots of outdoor sports and a talent show. Educational outcomes are non-specific, but you can bet that some bonding time, team-building experience, and autonomy are chief among the goals of such an outing.

My guess is that there will be more than just a few giggles, pranks and shenanigans going on before lights out.

Because when you house a bunch of 11-year olds together, stacking them in bunks three beds high, just what else could happen?
Emma has been ready to go for days, weeks maybe. Her bag was packed long before I had even begun to think of what to take along to Milan last weekend. But of course in her thrill and excitement she dashed out the door this morning without a jacket and had to come running back, red-cheeked and breathless, to retrieve her coat.

I miss her already.

I know this will be a stellar experience for her. I remember my sixth grade camp experience at Mill Hollow back in oh, 1978. Fun things like tire swings, and nature hikes and campfires with marshmallow roasting. And not-so-fun things, like the moment I left my brown paper sack behind in the girls' bathroom. As an early bloomer I was menstruating already at age eleven and mistakenly left my supplies in one of the stalls. Then it was found, and I was found out. With cheeks flushed, I had to lay claim to the bag full of private, embarrassing things. I felt mortified and exposed and deeply self-conscious that my status as "woman" had been so blatantly uncovered.

But the girls in my cabin? Worshipped me. I had boobs and a period. My rank and position in little girl world was elevated to wow proportions. I was envied and admired and rode the fame wave for months until a couple of others joined me in the bra wearing brigade.

Emma thinks that story is hilarious.

She'll have her own story like that one day soon. That she doesn't find nearly as funny. Growing up is like that though and I can't wait to hear her every tale.

Happy Camp Week, Emma.
Valderi, Valdera!


  1. Thanks for delurking :) I love finding new expat blogging friends. My youngest daughter left with her class for a week, before Christmas, and she had a ball. This summer we are sending our oldest, an Emma too, away with a friend for 12 days in Bretagne. They'll just be staying at her friend's grandparents' home, but the fact that they will be flying solo, without their own parents has them pretty excited.

  2. Awwww.... I'm remembering my 5th grade week-long nature camp on Cape Cod. It rained the entire time.

    Thanks for sharing such a "grown-up" moment. I'm excited - and I'm not even her mom!!

  3. See, now I am jealous! As a mom to 4 boys, no one would appreciate my "woman" stories! I hope she has LOTS of fun. I think I am jealous of her, too! ::hugs::

  4. Ahhh, I remember my fifth grade camp too. I wasn't NEARLY as cool as you with being all grown-up and stuff. Sigh. I would have adored you for it too, the way the other girls did.

    I hope Emma has a super time!!!

  5. I never camped in the fifth grade.

    Maybe that is why I am so... disturbed!

  6. By the way, now I have "valderi, valdera" in my head. Thanks for that... it gets rid of the David Cassidy song that's been in my head since my post on Sunday.

    "Valeriiiiii, Valderaaaaaaa, valderiiiii, valdera a a a a a a aaaaa"

  7. Yup, now I'm singing, "Valderi, Valdera!", and not to myself - out loud because I'm home alone!

    My kids' school does the trip in sixth grade, so she's very excited about next year. They're going to San Diego and doing the Sea World thing; I'm not sure if I'll get picked to chaperon that one. Not sure if I would be up to that!

  8. I was actually disappointed that I didn't get the option of chaperoning and/or sweating it out whether I could handle it or not. I would have liked to go just so I could teach all these international kids the crucial camping skills--like the obnoxious songs-- which were so important to every trip I took!
    Valderi! Valdera!

  9. So the International School still exists! Had I known that such an adventure was in store for me, I would have begged my parents to stay a couple more years. I hope Emma enjoys hers.

  10. Here's to end-of-year experiences(and other rites of passage -- brown bags and all!) Hope Emmers is having a wonderful time.


  11. That is precious! I too remember my camp-experience, but ours was more about education of the outdoors; in fact, it was called Outdoor School. I like what your daughter is going to be doing--personal discovery and fun and relationship.

    And ditto what kiki said LOL All boys here :-)