My son has his last day at Primary School today. Its sad, but in another way I am kind of glad. I don’t have to go on anymore school camps. I had a love hate relationship with them over the years. I went to 6 in total, and usually came home saying that I had fun. I remember one camp in particular that I went on.
My wife announced "Bernard, I have put your name down to go on school camp. You will have lots of fun with the 200 darling little kid’s and it will be good for you to get to know the other parents who are going……" My cries of "But I don’t want to go. Death looks more inviting. Tear my testicles off, lets have dinner in a lion cage, I will eat molten nails, anything, but don’t make me go" seem to somehow be translated into "Yippee this is going to be great and I am really looking forward to it. This is the best thing that could have ever happened to me" in women language. My efforts at avoiding the draft failed, and so I went to camp with a comment "You WILL have a great time" which to me, in my depressed state of mind, sounded like a command. Anyway I dragged myself along with much fear and trembling.
Fortunately I always knew someone else going and so we would meet up at the New World Supermarket in Otaki and we would embark on exciting shopping sprees. We happily loaded our trolley with half the shops mystery candy rum and raisin mint bars, peanut blah blahs roasted in quail droppings, chocolate exotic chewy yum yum biscuits, specially rolled and dried yoghurt fruit tingle tangle bars and fruit filled crunchy tasty extravaganzas from Havana, all of which are vastly outside my limited price range. On one occasion, once the checkout operator had finished tallying up the huge amount, my friend did his Scottish "what pocket did I put my wallet in" shuffle. My shoulders began to droop as it became apparent to myself and everyone in the entire shopping complex that there was no wallet forth coming and these two guys were about to look stupid. . His wallet was back the Hutt Valley. My shoulders sunk back to their totally depressed state as I paid the bill with a huge fake smile that told everybody it was no problem.
Camp was held at "Forest Lakes" Otaki. I have never been there before. It’s a great place and my spirits lifted when I saw it. After unpacking I thought I would associate with the kids to gain their confidence and respect. "Its important that they get to know you" I was told…. I thought of the saying, "Get to know your enemy".
"Do you want a go on the hanging tyre" they said as I wandered past the playground. This was a tractor tyre (with a wooden floor), hung from a frame that spins as it is pushed around. You sit in the middle and have a great time as it spins. I should have recognised the evil grins from the demons dressed like children as I climbed on, that this was one of my life’s dumbest decisions. I must have had my "Hey look at me I’m really stupid" mask on at the time. Spinning at vast revolutions per second might be alright for a 25 year old American all time hero built like Hercules and training for intergalactic space flight, but for this overweight, unfit old aged specimen from Lower Hutt it was the closest thing to hell I have experienced. Everything became a grey blur as they spun the tyre to demonic speeds. I repented for every sin I had ever committed and ever will commit, I called out to God to save me and clutched my stomach desperately attempting to keep my meagre breakfast where it belonged. God however turned His back on me, because of my attitude when my mate lost his wallet. At this speed time slows down and for the demon possessed children doing all the psychological damage to me, it seemed like seconds, but to me it was 3 months in hell. Thinking I was dead they stopped the tyre spinning and peered inside. I was quietly whimpering, "Stop, stop, you have to stop it spinning" lying in a fetal position in the tyre. One of the demons who had by now re-transformed into a sweet little girl said "But Mr. McClelland it has stopped and could you please get out as we want a turn now". After climbing/staggering out I just managed to stumble to a grass bank and lay there for 10 minutes pretending that I had just had my life’s greatest experience. I was actually talking with God asking Him "Take me now Lord I am a sinful man who deserves death!"
It was then when I saw a vision. I realized that this camp was a survival camp. It was going to be them or me and so I determined that we were at war and they were the enemy. I wasn’t going to die, I was going to last the distance, I was going to be the victor. Hallelujah, My spirit lifted to great heights, I wasn’t going to die, I was going to live. Hooray…….
Those little suckers were going to lose.
I was on canoeing as my first activity. Its amazing how wet a child can get from only one splash of a paddle in the hands of an expert. I became a terrorist on the high seas, sparing no child. When no teacher was looking I drenched the little darlings, I tipped them over and shoved their canoes into the bull rushes where they were trapped. Ha ha ha it was great, camp was going to be fun. The strange thing was, the more I did, and the more popular I became. They thrived on my merciless tactics. When I thought they would beg for mercy, they laughed and said, "that was fun". Dejectedly with my drooping shoulders back, I paddled back to the shore to find them all waiting for me like little vultures with hungry evil eyes. Before I could get out of my canoe ten frenzied children desperate attacked me for my blood. I was tipped out and set upon by these monsters from hell. No mercy did they show, even when I begged them to let me breath. They left me once they thought I was dead.
That night I planned my revenge.
We went for a walk around the lake. This was done to tire the kids out. Unbeknown to everyone on the camp but me, it was an impossibility trying to tire out these creatures from the dark side, but I was ready for them. In my cabin I remembered that these creatures of the night will not attack anyone with garlic around their neck. I couldn’t get hold of any so decided not to clean my teeth, hoping that garlicky bad breath would do the same.
It seemed the word had got out, that an angel of light (me) was in the midst of the Kingdom of darkness. They attacked me with everything they could. Water pistols, sand, small pieces of grass, fake smiles and fake kind words all were used against me. One of them, cleverly disguised as my daughter who they had tied up somewhere else, even tried to hold my hand. I would have none of it and breathed garlic on her. She ran screaming. When some small-brained teacher decided we should all climb the most cow pat studded hillside in creation, all hell broke loose. Unfortunately here, once again my Irish inbreeding ancestry got the better of me. I should have gone up first. I foolishly was the last one up, leaving myself open for easy attack from above. It rained cow dung on me as I climbed the hill at the back of demonic throng. It was like climbing into a brown, smelly avalanche. I exhaustedly arrived at the top to see them escaping down the other side. I thought "Now I will get them", but due to my now confused state missed with my smelly avalanche and hit a few teachers which did nothing for my every dwindling popularity.
"Lets get Mr. McClelland" became the war cry. So for the next 4 days I had to endure mass torture, suffering and shame. Through it all I held on to my sanity. My garlic breath saved me many times and I recommend it.
No more school camps……. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!