I enjoy doing things I've never before done; sometimes even if I think I'm going to hate it. For the experience, you see. There are times I've ended up really enjoying something I thought I'd dislike, for doing something yourself truly is a most effective teacher. Conversely, if discover I do hate it, I can at least state so effectively, for there's not much I despise more than someone who spouts their opinion without having any empirical exposure, all the while assuring me their opinion trumps anything I've *actually* done in real life. You wouldn't believe how often this happens to me.
That being said, I would never have volunteered to be a parent chaperon in charge of group of 10 year olds at a three day, two night camp. Except that my son asked me to. I'm not the "buddy" dad. I'm not the "fun" dad. I want my children to have fun, but to learn and be safe while doing do. I want them to consider angles prior to acting, and often checklist a "lessons learned" when individual activities fail. I asked my boy, "Are you sure its me you want?" Unquestionably, it was.
Having zero experience in this field, I attempted to extract information from the locals who've done this before via our City forum with mixed results. As a fan of order and schedule, I'll admit I was dismayed at what sounded like a free-for-all mosh pit of pre-teens running willy-nilly without direction and some of my previous dealings with "organized" activities of this scope for this age-group had me nearly frozen with fear. Nonetheless, once on site I was able to quickly assess the lay of the land and do the only thing I knew how: Attempt to create order from chaos. There was no one there with any instructions, but the expectation was that I would control (and to a lesser degree, bond) with "my" kids.
I caught on pretty quick which chaperons had done this before. All their kids had on the same color bandannas on their head. They brought folding chairs with them. As it turned out, I stood or hiked, something like 18 hours a day. Thankfully, my oppo (we were two adults per cabin) brought matching bandanna the next day, greatly easing the headcount and herding of kids.
The other dad with me worked during the day but was available during the evenings and overnight (a gigantic help not being worn down by the kids all day), but thankfully his wife filled the day-shift role with great success. We had the misfortune to be a group of boys in a cabin named, "Basket Flower" and our side of the duplex was designated "A." The leader of the other side of the duplex downplayed this travesty by referring to his group as "BFB" while I did the opposite and accentuated our unfortunate dilemma calling the boys my "Little Basket of Flowers, Alpha" (after teaching them the first three letters of the NATO phonetic alphabet which they were able to quickly apply despite not fully comprehending its necessity).
"THREE BY THREE IN FRONT OF ME!" I would yell, and all nine kids would haul ass to form-up. We were marching by the time some of the other groups were still trying to gather their group. The "DEPLOY" order meant they could break-rank and run the rest of the way to our destination. They chanted the school fight song while we marched. I made them roll their bedrolls each morning. We slickly operated as a single unit and the kids were eating it up.
There were several lengthy hikes as we learned about the forest and the prairie, did wall-climbing and archery, fishing and canoing. All of those places, as well as the living quarters, chow hall and education center, were at a minimum half a mile apart. LOTS of walking. The most fun I had was teaching my group of three how to "pull" together in the canoe for the most effective speed and direction, then disembarking and letting them go on their own. There were three-squares a day, and evening activities as well. I was exhausted each night and dropped shortly after getting the boys down, which was, in itself a struggle after each exciting day. 1 fart = 1000 giggles at bedtime :/
A couple of things I was concerned about: As this was my son's camp time, I wanted him to be able to experience it wholly - and not with Dad looking over his shoulder. I wasn't sure if I could pull of not being the doting father and just letting him do his own thing. As it was, I did just that. I guess being cognizant of it ahead of time was enough. I was group chaperon, not "Dad." He had so much fun though, he did break rank a couple of days to give me a hug :)
On the last day, the Mayor of Anna showed up during breakfast and brought me a MONSTER. I nearly cried. I really do love that man. I don't know that I would otherwise ever volunteer again - and if it weren't for my partner the "fun" dad who was good at telling stories and coming up with activities for the kids before lights-out (I designated him the Officer of Fun & Discipline while I was the Officer of Safety & Order) the kids wouldn't have had as good a time I'm sure. Nonetheless, I'm glad I could be "that" dad once again, spending this kind of time with my son.
Then we had a production outage and I worked all weekend. So I haven't slept really good in like...a week.
C'est la vie.
I sure seem to stay busy.