I’ve talked often about community here on the blog. It’s something my husband and I talk about a lot too, especially with our frequent moves. We’ve both been in places where we’ve felt lonely and isolated, and it’s taught us to recognize the importance of having friends around us who share our values, hobbies, or goals in life. Now that we have kids, I think community is even more important, as the old saying about the village raising a child suggests.
Community is one of the reasons we headed back to the Island last week for the All Saints Catholic Homeschooling Camp. We’ve dropped in on the camp in past years—stayed for a weekend two years ago, drove out for two days last year—and so I was excited to finally spend a whole week there. We had a lot of fun connecting with old friends, making new friends, watching the girls make friends, exploring the local area, playing board games, and more.
Getting there, though, was a bit of an adventure. We left Vancouver on the Friday of the long weekend. As veteran BC Ferries travelers, we should have known to expect the lineup that we found at the ferry terminal. Somehow we thought that having ferries leaving every hour would help, but when we got there, it looked like everyone in Vancouver was heading for Victoria. We couldn’t even get to the gate until the 5 pm and 6 pm ferries had left and cleared enough space in the parking area for us. Then we had supper and watched the girls play until it was our turn to board the 8 pm ferry.
We got off the ferry in Schwartz Bay and I figured we had just enough time to drive to the camp before the gate closed there at 11 pm. Then, just as we turned onto the highway in Victoria, a deer jumped down the hill and in front of the van. I slammed on the brakes but there was no time to stop. My husband said the van looked okay, but we drove back around to the police station to report the dead deer. That got us to camp just past 11 pm—and thankfully the gate was still open.
The late nighters piled out of the lodge to help us unload and set up our tent. I just had to throw our stuff out of the van and they carted it across the field to an empty spot and looked to me for directions on setting up the tent. Um… we haven’t been camping since going to Rondalyn over a year ago, so I had to think for a minute to figure out the tent poles. But within twenty minutes, we had the girls tucked into their sleeping bags inside the tent and were thanking our friends for their help.
After that, the week was wonderfully relaxing and fun. On most mornings, Jade was up at 7ish so we headed to the dining hall. I had a shower (there had to be perks to being among the first ones up!) and then we got breakfast and waited for others to wake up. Around 9:30, we had flag time and morning prayers, and then Mr. D announced the day’s activities—either a hike or a game of capture the flag. On most days, a priest came out to say Mass for us around noon and then we had lunch.
“Happy Hour” began around 3ish, when the moms gathered their lawn chairs in a circle and concocted cocktails (which I get to look forward to for next year!) while talking about everything from birth stories to homeschooling to what happened at camp last year. There was an epic baseball game one afternoon and the teens often headed for the lake to swim or kayak. Then it was supper, chores, dessert, evening prayers, and bedtime—at least for me and the girls. My husband enjoyed staying up later with the board gamers.
Jade stayed pretty close to me for most of the camp (too many new faces and big spaces). We had brought a spare play tent for them, and often if she wasn’t with me, she was in that tent, either by herself or with Lily. At one point, she was playing with another little girl in the spots of dirt in the lawn. It’s clearly been very dry there lately, and there were little “pools” of dirt all over the field. Jade managed to throw some dirt all over herself and came in crying, then promptly crashed in my lap and so I ended up tucking her into her sleeping bag still covered in dirt and mud.
Sunshine, of course, was the complete opposite; for most of camp, I wasn’t completely sure where she was. Early in the week, she and a friend of hers decided that they would do a duet together for the camp talent show on Wednesday night. They spent quite a lot of time in one lodge practicing together. Sunshine also enjoyed story times with Mrs. C, trying to play baseball for the first time, kayaking on the lake (just like Grandma D had taught her!), and helping out in the kitchen.
Lily was somewhere in the middle. She was comfortable around the camp, but I often saw her running across the field by herself, telling her own little story or playing her own little game. She and Jade played at the edge of the field for the baseball game. She did participate in the talent show again this year, but again, sang a song so quietly that only the front row was able to hear her. She was happy to play on the beach while Sunshine was out kayaking (with me and some other friends), and on our Mystic Beach hike, Lily buried herself in the sand while Sunshine was busy building a dam with her friends.
We did three hikes during the week and for most of them, I had Jade on my back in the Ergo for at least part of the hike. She hiked most of the way around the lake on the second-last day, which was probably the easiest hike (it was at least flat, unlike the other two). For the awards night at the end of the week, I got the Camp Oppossum Award for carrying two “babies” all over the place. Jade was the camp diva, my husband got a Scrabble award, and Sunshine and Lily shared the “bubbles and sunshine” award (which Sunshine thought was very appropriate).
Overall, it was a fantastic week—relaxing, inspiring, and community-building for all of us. I’m hoping we can turn it into an annual tradition, like many of the other families there.
Pssst… I’ve got a homeschooling giveaway happening right now! Hop on over to my #BloggersFete post and leave a comment saying you’d like to win the homeschooling prize for your chance to win a copy of Bonnie Landry’s homeschooling books plus several other books!