Rain poured down like Niagara last week as daughter-in-law Jen and I drove up the Maine Turnpike toting Miles (10) and Henry (8, and slightly panicked) to Camp Kieve for their first overnight camping experience.
As the heavy drops pelted the windshield, and we got deeper into the Maine woods, I could almost hear Allan Sherman singing….
“Hello Muddah, hello Faddah,
Here I am at Camp Grenada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining.”
The boys’ duffle bags were crammed with Celtics and Patriots shirts, ready-to-send-home stamped postcards and the boys' favorite cuddly blankets sweetened with familiar smells of home. The euphoria of flying up from New York City to the Jetport, spending the night at Vivi’s, then eating a pancake breakfast with Grandpa Bob and Aunt Lisa, had slowly fizzled as we passed each mile marker heading north, with lightning flashing on the distant horizon.
“I’m not swimming in the lake,” Henry announced. “There might be lobsters in there.”
“I’m fine about everything,” Miles said, “except, uh, the bathroom situation. Do I have to go out in the woods?”
“Take me home, oh Muddah, Faddah,
Take me home, I hate Grenada.
Don't leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear.”
We drove in to Camp Kieve and spotted four smiling counsellors and two very-well-fed dogs waiting in the rain for us. We unpacked the boys’ clothes, put sheets on bunk beds, and headed to the dining hall for lunch.
As the boys munched on sandwiches and watermelon, “Rocky’s Theme” blared from overhead speakers. Every boy in the dining room looked positively ecstatic, except our little Henry who was near mute, with shoulders slumped down to his waist.
(Henry's cabin is perfectly named.)
A counsellor came over and said, “Hey guys, let’s go play dodge ball up in the Rec Hall.” Big smiles! Shoulders up! Whole new attitude! Off we all went, walking up a slippery path still being lacerated with sheets of rain. But who cared? Not our boys.
“Can I have a hug goodbye,” Jen asked as the boys gathered in a circle, about to begin the dodge ball game. “Mo-om,” they groaned. “Just go,” they said. And we did.
Today the first postcards arrived. Miles’ read, “Dear Mom, the first days were awsom (sic). I did pottery and leather and I’m going to do the aqua zip.” Little Henry’s said, “Dear Mom, on the first day I got home sike (sic). It was boring. I bet it will be better if it doesn’t rain. I miss you. Can we get a cat?”
“Wait a minute, it's stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing,
Playing baseball, gee that's bettah,
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.”
(Kieve is a Celtic verb which means “to work hard to acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes from others so as to improve yourself.” They are going to be fine!)