Wednesday, July 20, 2011

4 Days of Camp

I started this last week, but then life happened, so I'm just finishing it now~sorry!

Sorry I was so quiet this week.  I volunteered as a leader at our church's Summer Arts Camp from 10-3 every day this week, and our last day we did an evening drama presentation and art auction, so that day was a long one!  Both Ayden and Matthew were participants in arts camp and they.  had.  a.  BLAST!  I did, too, it was remarkably original and engaging.  I love that my church does arts camp.  Evangelical churches have sometimes traditionally shied away from art so its cool to see that art is valued by this particular evangelical church to the point of organizing an arts camp for kids.  Skoukum.

` Another adult during Arts Camp week found out Matthew was my adopted son and she asked me, "So, what does he call you?  Like, does he call you mom and dad?"
No we just adopted him so he could nanny our other kids and clean the bathrooms and stuff.
It was a minor blip in the week but it merited sharing, because it was so remarkable as to be the most ridiculous question I've ever received as an adoptive parent.

Granted, arts camp was nothing like an arts camp put on by artists, but it was a great mixture of art, craft, spiritual lessons, outdoor play, singing, and friendship.  A few of the leaders were artists, but I mean the overall organizers were not.
There were forty kids there, divided into four groups.  Each group had a leader and a teen helper, and there were eight stations the teams rotated amongst all day.  Music, baking, spiritual lesson/craft, visual art, free play on the playground, field sport/games, drama, and movie time.  I was a group leader with eleven kids in my group, including Ayden and my best friend's little boy, who is eight.  My group was six boys and five girls aged 6 to 8, with some rather energetic boys in it.  Like, please stop picking your nose and chasing the girls with it, then wiping it on the auction cupcakes type of energetic.

I learned a lot as Camp Mommy this week.  Let me summarize:

The Excellent:
-I am very good with kids.  Ergo, as a mom, I think I might be doing better than I thought.
-The kids I'm best with are the ones everyone else has a hard time relating to.
-I had spades of patience
[these above observations are notable not because I think I'm great, but because I think I'm not: so often I feel short of patience or creativity or positive thinking with regards to my kids, but watching myself corral a group of kids for a week helped me to see that sometimes, I have strengths I didn't know I had.]
-Arts camp is awesome and simple metaphors are a really effective way to teach kids, especially if there is a craft to emphasize the lesson
-I do WAY better with short term sprints, in life, as opposed to long drawn out endurance runs.  Thus, arts camp (27 hours total volunteer time) as opposed to sunday school (18 to 20 hours total per year) is a better fit for me.

The Good:
-I did well in a group that big despite less sleep, separation from my infant, and scads of extroverted activities: HENCE, my anxiety is more under control than ever before in my memory!
-Amarys stayed home with daddy and some pumped milk; she doesn't like bottles but she will take enough to take the edge off her hunger, and she won't starve!  Its remarkable how relaxed I am this time compared to last time...

The Not So Good:
-Okay, part of what I sign my kids up for things for in the summer is to get them away from the television.  But arts camp showed a video during lunchtime (because obviously lunchtime would be a terrible time to talk to other kids and get to know them), and also during the movie portion of the daily schedule!  I know its easier to control them and gives the adults a break if we drug them with television, but can't we just NOT drug them with television?
-Very few people are good with little boys unless they are (a) male themselves, or (b) mom to a couple of boys minimum.
-Some people who work with kids could use some lessons in child development, and how to redirect, distract, affirm positive behavior, and encourage.  I'm no saint.  Today in particular I was a cranky bitch to my kids, but at least I know what the goal is, with regards to my interaction with children, you know? Why be negative?  Why turn normal little boy behavior into a power struggle?
-Little girls are harder for me.  They're always up in everyone else's business!  Why is so and so over there?  What did you say to her?  Why is she pouting?  What did she say to you?  What are you doing?  So and so called me a bad name.  Can I sit with you?  She doesn't want to be my friend anymore.
At least with boys a good tussle will generally settle things down again.  But girls?  It's all drama and politics, man.  Drama and politics.
-I get tired doing the extroverted thing all day, which makes me have less to give my kids, but anyone can do anything for a week!  We did okay.
-Riley felt very very left out, left behind, and left bereft.  He kept begging to go to arts camp too: daddy invented "daddy camp," which tempered the grief but wasn't really quite as enticing!  It will be a few years before he will be old enough to go...

Overall?  Awesome.  Loved every minute.  Will totally do it again.


Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

This makes me want to see you in action! You sound fabulous as a camp mommy. Like one of the boys. ;)

Lori said...

Sounds like a real cool gig, art camp. Glad you liked it and had so much fun.

Wow. Such an interesting adoption question. Like, as soon as it left her mouth, didn't she then say, "Oh, ha ha! What a ridiculous question! Sorry. I was just stream-of-consciousness talking." I love your blog response to her question though. Cleaning bathrooms. Ha.

Yes, I agree about adults tending to turn children's normal (albeit annoying) behavior into a power struggle. I am working real hard on not doing that sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing, as I'm dealing with a girl who, yes, drives me batty with her whining and drama. And she's only two and a half. YIKES. Maybe she's just getting it all out now.....[please, God].

lori said...

Doh. That last comment was me. Guess I was in my "other" account, the one I didn't remember I had, but which must be connected to my rarely used email. How these accounts all loop together baffles me.