gourmet dinners, massages, cozy fires with wine tasting, hikes up the mountain, morning dips in a steaming lake and night time treks to the bathroom through the dark and the forest.
and how about workshops appealing to both your creative side and your healthy side? photography, pottery, raw food demonstrations and yoga. and how about doing all of this with your grown up besties, with no curfew, no counsellors to shush you late at night and no need to rise at the early bell.
UNLESS YOU WANT TO.
all the awesomeness of summer camp combined with the grown up girlie perks we love. a crazy melding of two perfect worlds.
you should be:)
last september, on a crisp weekend, after having sent my beloved daughter off to this very summer camp for years, i bundled up my own sleeping bag ( no need for comfy flannel sheets…they are provided!!!), my camera, my running shoes, comfy sweats, an extra sweater, a whole bunch of magazines and some well selected wine ( totally chosen by cute label status ) and headed up the 125 to notre dame de la merci, quebec to the venerable girls camp, camp ouareau located on lac ouareau.
did i mention who i was doing this with? my original quebec lodge ( any other QL’ers out there?) summer camp companion, my sister nicki! now, as a child, nicki had a love hate relationship with summer camp, so we were hoping for no calls home to mom to come and get her. the magic of tuck always won out over homesickness, so i was not too worried about her this time round.
we also recruited another friend, marci, to join us. she was yearning for the nostalgia of summers past…and the promise of wine filled, giggly evenings.
but back to the weekend. as long as i have been sending holly to camp, i have been hearing about ouareau’s annual women’s weekends. i never really had time for them, you know – kids, hockey schedules, birthday parties…life. and really? camp? at my age? walking to the bathroom in the dark in the middle of the night? by myself?
all of a sudden, last year, this seemed irresistable. a weekend, offering me the chance to do as much or as little as i wanted to, surrounded by like minded women, all doing ( or not doing ) the same thing. i needed to go to camp. like, from the bottom of my starry night starved soul, i needed this weekend like nothing else. originally, i was just going to go on my own. i did not think anyone else would want to go. but thanks to my quick thinking brother in law, all of a sudden i had a cabin mate in my sister ( he knew, from the bottom of her starry night starved soul that this would be a good, good thing ).
life gets very busy very quickly at this point in our lives. i think back to the endless days of summer camp – the time for friends, for creating things, for camp fires and scary stories, for snuggling into warm blankets on a cold night, for listening to raccoons launch acorns onto your tent roof, and this is a luxury that just does not exist any more, for us, as grown ups.
i think we often feel like we are able to recapture, if fleetingly, those memories when we offer our own children these experiences.
what if, for just a weekend, you were able to create new memories and renewed friendships, fueled by both the nostalgia of your childhood and the experience of being a grown up? this is what the women’s weekend at ouareau offered me.
and as for what we did on our weekend, nicki and marci and me? for activities, nicki noshed on a wonderful variety of raw foods while marci and i hiked, triumphed and then were thwarted by a local mountain. marci may have called it a slight detour, i called it near tragically lost.
we all partook in the wine tasting, wine produced by a local woman and enthusiastically received. i took photos, marci arched ( who knew she was like a katniss in disguise ) and nicki sat quietly and enjoyed the beauty of the lake, from the comfort of an adirondack chair on the overlook.
we all ate. and ate. and ate. and there may have been bingo. with a dance off. but what happens at camp, stays at camp. and that video will never see the day of light;).
while we immersed ourselves in activities, the schedule was run seamlessly by camp owner, jacqui and her team of counselors extraordinaire. while they made it look easy, i feel that groups of adult women are perhaps a little harder to keep on schedule than a camp full of girls, ages 6-16. the staff that ouareau has is made up of young women, mature beyond their years. they entertained and organized us for three days. ask them what they do outside of camp, and without fail they were all at university or traveling for a year, all bound to ouareau with a love of camp and sisterhood.
and the other women on the weekend? there were old campers, parents of campers, friends of old campers, women who had heard of the weekend but had never been a camper, artists, lawyers, writers, doctors and business owners. there is no one kind of woman who was there. camp this time, like when we were kids, was the great equalizer. we all had to walk to the bathroom in the dark, up the hill, flashlight in hand, through the forest.
oh…wait. there were a couple of cool kids at camp. remember where i mentioned the dips into the steaming lake? well, that lake was not steaming with warmth, but rather in reaction to the coming of fall. and the cool kids ( cold even!!)? the women who braved the chilly waters and jumped in, sometimes more than once, to the great delight of the not so brave on the dock and on the shore. there were no badges or paddles given out at the women’s weekend this year, but if there were, these are the women to whom the highest honours would have gone. this could be you next september:).
the dates have been set, get your sleeping bags and wine ready.
( camp ouareau did not pay me or comp me for any of my camp weekend for writing this post. they have no idea i am writing this:). what they have done for me is offer my daughter an incredible environment to grow up in every summer. she is going on ten years of being at ouareau and the gifts of independence and self reliance and creative freedom they have helped her develop is something i can not thank them enough for for )