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No Longer Cool

I should have seen it coming, really.

At home, I'm still Dad. I'm the guy she comes to when she needs help, the guy she likes to hang out with, the guy whose approval she craves. As long as it's just us, watching Princess Bride or going shooting or playing out on the lake, it's all good.

But when she's around her friends, I'm the hovering, uncool parent who is embarrassing (spoken in a mortified pre-adolescent whisper) her in front of her friends, and would I please go away?

I got dragooned into being an overnight chaperone at 4H Camp this week, because Katy needs occasional assistance and I couldn't see burdening one of the camp counselors with the task of getting her dressed and undressed, cleaning her after bathroom breaks, and so on. So, I submitted to the criminal background check, credit check, anal probe, and tediously boring online education program for becoming an adult camp chaperone.

And once we got here, it turned out that one of the camp counselors is friends with Katy's older stepsister, and volunteered to do all the tasks I was hesitant to ask a teenaged camp counselor to do.

So here I sit, banished to Places Elsewhere while Katy gets her camper on. I wound up volunteering to help out with the outdoor skills and shooting tracks, and my only duties concerning KatyBeth are stretching her before she goes to bed every night. Meanwhile, I'm staying in a cabin with 30 pre-adolescent males who were NOT NEARLY tired enough at lights-out on the first night of camp.

I'm going to do my best to wear these little buggers out today, or go to town and lay in a stock of zip ties and duct tape to make bedtime more manageable for the rest of camp. And after my first night here at camp, I have been able to make a few observations:

  • 30 pre-adolescent males giggle and bicker every bit as much as 30 pre-adolescent females, only with more farting.
  • Because I hold a PhD in farting, I am still cool to this particular demographic.
  • Shouting "REVEILLE, REVEILLE! DROP YOUR COCKS AND GRAB YOUR SOCKS!" is not an acceptable method for waking up thirty 5th graders in the morning. A loud, ten-note hail call on my duck call, however, works very well.
  • Because I can blow a duck call and am from Monroe, every kid wants to know if I know Phil Robertson. And since I can honestly answer in the affirmative, I get extra cool points.
  • You DO NOT want to follow thirty boys into a bath house. I had to march them all back in there with pointed instructions to use that little silver handle on the side of the toilet, and to remember that the tile surface under their feet is not the friggin' trash can.
  • When you shout, "I need some volunteers, two for each side of the cabin!" every hand will go up. Their enthusiasm will be markedly dampened, however, by handing the likeliest candidates a mop and a broom. We'll see how many volunteers I get tomorrow morning.
  • The advertised "heated showers" in the bath house is a despicable, cruel lie. The bastards.
  • The meals here may meet the nutrional needs of a bunch of 80-pound kids, but for a grown-assed man? Not so much. The deli counter at the convenience store down the road is going to see a lot of me this week.
  • I though camp songs and cheers were supposed to be fun, enthusiastic, uplifting, team-building sort of things. This morning, I listened to a song about a cute, googly-eyed frog getting squashed in the road and his entrails and eyeballs getting licked up by a dog, and a charming song about a shark attack. "Hey campers, let's sing the Gory Amphibian Death Song! Now, who's ready for a snack?"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to help teach archery to a bunch of sugared-up 10-year-olds. I see impalement in my future.

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