Tent-camping with Teenagers = Great Fun
Monday, December 8, 2008
Okay, so this weekend I helped a friend take his daughter, my daughter and 9 other teenagers camping. And we certainly didn't take the easy way out: Drive two vans and big pickup FULL of gear to ferry, load everything on ferry, unload ferry, load everything onto tram, unload everything from tram, schlep everything to campsite, make sure none of our stuff gets mixed up with the other parties and then ... set up camp. WHEW! And then 24 hours later, do it all AGAIN.
But I have to tell you: It was a breeze. Really. I actually had fun. First of all, when you have that many people to carry things it's much easier. Second of all, one of these nice young men was an Eagle Scout. (Thanks for your help in all matters outdoors, John. And thanks for not making fun of me when I said that the 'mama bug was giving her baby bug a piggyback ride' instead of realizing that I was interrupting a moment of passionate mating.)
Third, these kids are all IB kids. For those who don't know of the International Baccalaureate program, I will tell you it is a rigorous high-school path so difficult it makes the AP track seem downright remedial. These kids have orals, serious, critical papers, and projects that I didn't do until my senior year of undergrad. There's an IB bumper sticker out there that says, "I think, therefore IB." I've joked with my daughter that it SHOULD say, "IB, Therefore I don't sleep."
As a result, they are focused, disciplined and wonderful teenagers. I've watched them view and deconstruct Disney movies, drawing parallels to Shakespeare. They attend origami exhibits. Their cell phones are NOT GLUED TO THEIR EARS, and they know how to have a meaningful political discussion with any adult who is too sunburned to go back to the beach. (Thanks, Aaron! I'm going to try out that almond milk you told me about.)
These are the kind of things they did for fun:
We were on Cayo Costa, a barrier island state park off the coast of Cape Coral, Florida. Outside magazine has called it one of the 50 finest islands in North America. These kids spent a lot of time on the beach, using nothing more than shells to dig holes, and ropes and sticks to dream up contests.
Here's what they did at night:
Yup. They played guitar and drums and sat around a campfire, making smores. Only twice did a see a phone used the entire time we were there.
My friend, Kevin, kept us well fed, cooking pasta putanesca and Caesar's salad for 13, which we tossed and served from a plastic trash bag. Next day we had homemade black beans and rice. And these kids ... and I'm not lying about this ... would constantly say things like, "Yes, please, Mr. Hudler," and "Thank you very much," even after I'd shattered my dignity by doing my Pee-Wee Herman imitation and telling them I'd wet the bed the last time I went camping. (Thanks, Haley, for giving your dad so much slack!)
I have never met an IB kid I didn't like. It has become a litmus test for me. And if there's an IB program in your city, and you know of a kid getting ready to enter high school, do him or her a favor and look into it. IB = good person. Spend a weekend with a group of IB kids, and your hope for the future of this country and world will swell. Thanks, guys ... I had a great time. And I wish you all the best of luck wherever you go next year.