Saturday, March 12, 2011

Well, it's come to an end

My time with my daughter has come to an end in the Adventure Guide program. You may remember it was a little hard to keep our little camping group going, so I finally relented and "traded her up" to my husband, who joined a Guide group of dads and daughters. Men have a stronger foothold in membership in this organization than women, and it could partly be because of the fear of camping or being on your own. This may sound appalling to some people, but I've found it fairly common for a potential female member to balk at the prospect of setting up her own tent and campsite. I even tried, at one point, to "sell" the benefits of having nearby menfolk (who are always helpful anyway) but to no avail. Our little group dwindled away to only me and Rebecca. Mid year, a year ago, we received a call from the YMCA to help keep another mother-daughter tribe going. The thought was we could merge into their group and then it would keep everyone motivated. By this point, I was already becoming more involved with the local Brownie group --- for some reason, this program has more support for women and their daughters --- so I was already one foot out the door, so to speak.

Yet, ever optimistic, we joined and made a group of about five moms. It was great for about two months. Shortly after Winter Camp (a favorite camp for my daughter), one mom emailed to say she wouldn't be returning and my friend who had joined my group admitted her daughter was slightly too young. I had to agree. There are certain points where children need to be others near their own age, or they feel left out. A third mom finally said she had a dating problem with our organization or something like that. I wasn't really clear on the reason. The last mom that was left was and is an amazing person, who volunteers, is a nurse, suddenly a single mom, and is camping with her children and keeping them active in their faith. June of last year was my last month in the program.

I am still connected in many ways to the Adventure Guide (now re-christened Indian Guide) program, because my husband is president of the older children's group, the Trailblazers. He is a dedicated father to his daughter in their  father-daughter group and to his son in the Trailblazers. We call it "double tribing" and he's not alone. Alone it does deter a little of the program's original calling, personal one-on-one time with your child, well, you have to admit, it's a better trade than NO parent time with their child.

I treasure all these memories and I truly hope that other parents --- especially women : don't be wimps! --- try out the Indian Guide program for some nature, fun personal time with their child, and that this program and programs like it, continue for a long time. In our increasingly fast paced society, the treasured moment of actually "raising" your child versus "braising" (stewing in the ever heated waters or media, electronic entertainment, and being passed from childcare giver to another) is a rarity.

God bless everyone.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Camp! Swings and Things!

Both my children's favorite camp is the YMCA Adventure Guides Summer Camp at Lake Casitas, CA and its Water Park. Funnily enough, you can't swim in the Lake... so it makes sense that someone built a water park. Seems a bum deal to drive all day to fish... and you can't put a toe in the water. You can't swim because it's a source of drinking water for the area however, has anyone SEEN this lake lately? Natural and unnatural gross stuff abound. No one should drink out of this water anyway.

Starfall (formerly Sparkly Dolphin) said that "Yesterday my shoe got stuck in goo, mucky mud so we found another shoe that was pink in my size but I left both of the sticky shoe mud and so I saw a ship curtain that goes on a boat. I was going to use it. Too bad I left. And I saw the geese and the ducks near Lake Casitas. And my Dad forgot the boat because it was broken. So we didn't go on the lake but we could swim a little bit and I could find seashells but I found clamshells when I took the hike. I liked it very much. And there's this place called Water Park and there's this river called the Lazy River. It's like a River and it has a waterfall coming down and these strips going like crossed and it shoots up and there's these water guns which you fill up and squirt. And there's this playground that filled with water shooting out."

My son, Albatross (formerly Little Puffin) "There was a creek and we hiked up all the way to the end of it. My sister's shoe got stuck so we had to leave it there. And there was also a duck teaching a baby duck how to swim and dry off. At the Water Park I got a Big Squirt, the "official souvenier" and it's really cool. And I asked the lifeguard why is the Adventure Park (the playground in the center) colder than the Lazy River and he said because the Lazy River circulates and the sun warms it, and on the playground it gets the water straight from the ground". I have another theory as to why Lazy River is warmer. It's just a scary thought at the back of my mind. I just use goggles and hope for the best.

My best memory is my daughter, Starfall, packed this bright blue length of rope and brought a wooden board. I had no idea. Honest. Until we got there on Friday night, super late. My son (surprise!) was helping me to unpack when I couldn't find my daughter. I wasn't worried. I assumed (correctly) she was nearby "doing something". "Where are you?" I called into the dimly lit playground. She was there, fussing with a tree. Well, in ten minutes she had that rope slung over a branch and was trying to attach her board to it. A swing. Clever. But not quite. The board had no holes or anything. She didn't get frustrated. She just changed her plan and proceeded to swing, one-footed, from her rope. The following day, after my husband arrived for a day visit, I mentioned her failed project to him. He used a camping knife to whittle a hole into the board and the campfire to melt the ends of the rope... and voila! He hoisted a swing over a small gully next to the campsite. How exciting! He didn't get to see her proudly show it off the next day, sharing her "swing my daddy made" with neighboring six and seven year old campers. It's a nice memory.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bag Lady

We're still hoping (well, I am) to increase our tribe's size. Intimacy is fine with me. Honestly. My first tribe dwindled down to a proud two moms (Yatahey, Sheltering Aerie!) and it was perfect for nearly a year. However, my current tribe is experiencing life in a storm, so meeting each other or doing things together is challenged. It's a little quiet to clap with one hand.

I'm holding an Open House this Saturday and encouraged my tribe members to "bring a friend". I think I'll offer a prize for the person who brings the most. Maybe I should go out and buy a Gucci bag. I like crocodile print.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spending Time is Earning Time

I've spent more time with my daughter because of the Adventure Guides program. I think the hardest thing for me was to carry over that importance into "real" life. It's easy to spend time together on a planned camping trip with other sympathetic adults and screaming children, but the breakthough in parenting came for me in initiating that same spirit of togetherness at home.

I'll be honest: once you've camped in dirt, flown kites, made crafts and been up all night with rocks in your back, you are so done with the togetherness. Seriously. When you get home, you want to them to get out and play... with their friends. You want some type of santuary from managing some emotional six year old charge of power or a nine year's sense of dignity. But dang it, I've got to be mature and a big kid: I've got to own up to my responsibility to continue that feeling of closeness, even at home. Shoot.

So I've come up with a solution. And it's not been too bad, actually. There are more factors involved in this story of homework, bedtime routines and dinner hour than I care to go into, but if you're a parent, it's related to homework and "Get 'er done". My solution (for togetherness AND "Get 'er done") is we play a board game or similar after homework is finished.

What a family saver!

At first, I gritted my teeth because I had SO many things to do... dinner, laundry... where is the white pair of shoes... and who took my scissors? BUT... hey, it's been only about 15 minutes on average, my Sparkly Dolphin squeals when she wins and it's a funny sound... and STRANGELY she's been better behaved with me. Well, it's not like black to white or devil to angel... but there's been some definitely upswings in that department. I strongly believe it's a correlation of spending extra, personal mommy-and-me-one-on-one time. That's a rarity. Sure. I'm involved in an organization that promotes parent togetherness. But I'm referring to JUST me and her. Alone. Staring across a Connect Four board. Seething over matching cards. Cackling over Barbie dolls and their clothes (even she gets tired of board games). It's been great. And best of all? Homework is done faster.

This is all rooted in the Adventure Guides' spirit of the program. It deserves plenty of praise!

I recommend this to all parents. What time you spend now with your child, you earn peace of mind later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping the Faith

Sharing time with my daughter in this program has been a heavy... gift.

She's spontaneous, bright, a free-spirit, independent.
She also fights the rules, is sneaky, unfocused and stubborn beyond belief.

However, by spending time with her in a circle of little girls of similar ages I can cross compare and honestly... appreciate her good qualities and see her other qualities as typical of the age, and not simply because she wants to be hurt my feelings, my pride or break my rules.

By 'forcing' myself to spend a good amount of one on one time and giving her undivided attention (I'm trying to maintain the original intention of the program and keep the meetings daughter-mom driven, and not playdate driven), her behavior has improved and her cooperation has increased.

Her turnaround has enlightened me about this fact of children: they listen to those who appreciate them for who they are. I'm not saying she's an angel (she's a Rain Angel) but I am saying that occasionally those little cries of protest or digging in of the heels... it's someone saying, hey listen to me, pay attention to me, and show me you care about me and who I am. When she doesn't have to fight for my love or attention, most of the battle goes out of her.

She then concentrates on her preferred battles of lobbying paper balls at her brother or racing with him down the street. Or brushing her teeth and hair.

Hang in there, when you have a stubborn one like mine. You just gotta hang in there and believe that inside her or him: there's a tiny baby who needs kisses and love. Forever.