Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Friday, July 17, 2009


My daughter left for school camp this morning literally kicking and screaming. Instead of chastising her for negativity, I graciously offered her some of my most learned parental wisdom. Shit happens I say. And it invariably does on camp. Be prepared for pain girl. Grin and bear it and get home in one piece. That was all I had. Then in the car and without her mp3 player to zone out with, she had to endure a long winded recollection from me. And now so will you. Years ago, I was taught to play the drums in primary school by naval officer, Mr Fenlon. He was brass and woodwind specialist. On special occasions he’d thrill all the girls by turning up in his formal white uniform and hat. It was very Richard Gere. Anyway the band played a lot military marches and he insisted I hold the sticks in the old fashioned way (nestled in the crook of the LH) and eventually I could roll and flam as well as any ten year old could. I thought it was top stuff. The year I went on camp to Tallebudgera Creek in 1979, my mother saw me off in a purple skivvy and a yellow lunch box full of home-made caramel. During the trip our captain insisted we all sing ‘Ten Green Bottles’ from a thousand and I was stuck next a kid in year seven who carried a tune like a Vespa would a truck transmission. Up the back of the bus, a kid with a euphonium kept playing the ‘Baby Elephant’s Walk’ and proudly emptying his spit valve. When the cabin groups were being announced, I embarrassed myself in front of Mr Fenlon by referring to Bach as ‘batch’. I developed a hopeless crush on a trumpet player from another school and I stuffed up the glockenspiel part during a performance of Henry Mancini’s arrangement of the ‘Love Story’ theme because I was too busy gazing in the other direction. Then I lost a tooth eating Mum’s caramel and missed the chance to redeem myself at the concert. During recreation time two days later, I found myself uncomfortably sandwiched between Mr Fenlon in his Speedos and my trumpet playing crush on a water toboggan and then suddenly being hurtled around at high speed behind a boat with a full-on wedgie from my togs. The toboggan itself was only very small and flimsy and you might imagine with three people squeezed onto it, also pretty darn snug on the vitals. Ahem. So brace yourself my dear. Humiliation is par for the course. What’s the worst that could possibly happen?


Steve said...

Being able to tell, "This one time, at band camp..." stories. That's what could happen.

Out of curiosity, how was the captain who ordered the singing of that song allowed to live, and not murdered in a Ken Follet-like fashion?

Moko said...

MY first school camp - @like 10, or something - was AWESOME. It was in an area of NZ that I LOVED being at and we did just fun shit for the whole week.

My second one at Intermediate - 12 - was cool too. Cool teachers and we all got along. Mr Tamati with his ghost stories scaring the shit outta us then playing torch tig.

...then came high school. Fuck that shit. That's when arseholes and attitudes kick in and attempt to torture ya for the benefit of the chicks. It was shit, then we got stuck there for an extra two days cause of flooding.

YsambartCourtin said...

Our teacher poisoned most of the year, and themselves. For one of the dinners, there was toast with a choice of tinned baked beans or tinned spaghetti. I've always hated tinned spaghetti, so I went beanies. Good move. They had bulk heated the spaghetti over the fire in a big tin - it was one of the tins that held school cleaning chemicals. Everyone who touched the tainted spag was vomitously ill.

YsambartCourtin said...

Camping is also 'character building'. Do it right and it is amusing and fun. Cut any corners and get lazy and it can be painful, uncomfortable and even fatal. I love that in a past time, and I derive great entertainment watching the stupid and lazy suffer.

I am allowed to say that? Ah well, it's said now.

yankeedog said...

Now I went to Camp Kookamunga. Want to hear 'bout it? Here goes.

Actually, we don't have school camps here, but we do have Scout and YMCA camps. The Girl Scout camp was Camp Far Horizons-sounds nice and pastoral. The Y camp was Camp Benson. Camp Merrill G. Benson. Soldiers get stationed at places with names like Camp Merrill G. Benson. That's not a decent name for a summer camp.

Barnesm said...

Great story, well told-

Now days the young'ns no doubt call Bach 'Biatch'

Flinthart said...

Bart! You got school-camp food poisoning too? Oh, no... I see you dodged it. Well, so did I. I chose to avoid the mashed potatoes with mayonnaise. Didn't seem like a good idea at the time, and later, when 'most everyone else in my dorm was fighting for toilet rights, I felt I'd made a very good decision.

Nat... the toboggan story... ha!

Anonymous said...

At a guess the young lady didn't appreciate you taking the time to offer the advice?

YsambartCourtin said...

When bulk cooking, avoid ex cleaning chemical containers. Sometimes common sense isn't.

Steve said...

Tainted Spag would make an outSTANDING name for a punk band.

Mashed potatoes with mayo? I realize that's just a mushy potato salad, but it sounds disgusting. I think I would've starved before eating it.

I did Boy Scout camp for a few years, and in 6th grade we did a grip to the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Our bunk house was a converted honeymoon cabin, complete with a heart-shaped bathtub. You can imagine how a bunch of 11 year old boys thought about that.

Dr Yobbo said...

I grew up out at the beach, a tiny little village with a campground attached, about 20 kays from the regional town where my school was. Guess where we went for our school camp. Yup, camping in torrential rain about 200 metres from my fucking house.

Steve said...

Yobbo wins.

Abe said...

"This one time, at band camp...."

Nice one Nat, but Dr Yob's story made me laugh out loud.

I got quite ill with flu at camp when I was about 15. Not pleasant at all. Especially when they stuck me in isolation in another barracks and forgot about me for a day and a half. I'm told I emerged dehydrated and delirious in the middle of lunch and feinted in the mess hall, at which point they decided to call the oldies and have them come fetch me. (Camp was in Moore, near Kilcoy).

YsambartCourtin said...

Steve, I don't know that I'd be writing about a grip in love shaped tub. Unless you are in movies. Nope, still wouldn't be talking about scout grips.

The Rhino said...

The worst that can happen ... in today's world? Let's see:
1. Pregnancy
2. Cannibalism
3. Herpes and other uncurable STDs
4. Zombie apocalypse
5. Unkillable mass murderer ala Jason (camps are espeically susceptible to this issue)

That's just 5 off the cuff ... I'm sure that I've missed some particularly bad things.

Just sayin'


Steve said...

Bart, there was no gripping. I recall a lot of giggling. This was before our 11 year old brains could grasp the idea of the amount of bodily fluids exchanged in that tub.

Anneal said...


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