Monday, June 26, 2017

On Camping

Camping is one of those things that I like a lot in *theory*. Sitting around the campfire telling spoooky stories, toasting marshmallows for s'mores, singing songs. Idyllic laughter and warm crackling sparks that shoot up into the air, creating a double-starred sky of orange and white pinpricks!

The reality is usually more like: being eaten alive by mosquitoes, frolicking through poison oak, and
finding out in the morning that the raccoons decided to be helpful and make off with the dishes you cleaned the night before because they still *smell* like food. Hunting through the woods for that sierra cup - classic morning camping game.

I keep remembering the first part and forgetting the second part.

When I was a teen, I helped the Missionaries of Charity run a free summer camp for inner-city kids whose parents had to work but could not afford to arrange for childcare. My family first became acquainted with the Missionaries when my Mum, driving a 15-seater van, spotted two of them walking down University Avenue in Berkeley. She yanked the wheel and screeched up next to them before rolling down the passenger-side window and shouting out "HEY, SISTAHS! YOU WANNA RIDE?"

They were a bit dubious until she directed one of the kids to pop open the side-door which revealed a sea of grubby kid faces in the back, in various states of dress. They decided at that moment that we were both (a) Catholic and (b) must be very poor because LOOK AT OUR CLOTHES AND FACES AND THAT CRANKY DIRTY BABY! They wheedled out our address and, to our surprise, started showing up at our house once a month with a huge box full of baby formula and miscellaneous other food.

My mother finally convinced them that we Really Weren't That Poor, and sent some of us kids to volunteer at the soup kitchen they had in SF (perhaps to drive home the point).  When the call for volunteers for their summer program went out, my brother and I signed up. It was eye-opening. Young children were both cognizant and casual about the darker side of things but the Missionaries of Charity gave them a respite: they planned a number of ridiculously corny/cheesy games, made the sacraments and prayer part of the daily activities, and arranged a field trip out to see the redwoods nearby.

Some of these kids' parents didn't have a car, and certainly might have trouble affording to spend both time and money bringing their children out and about. Probably the schools they went to arranged field trips but I, being homeschooled, have no idea as to whether there are trips to redwoods/if these trips cost the parents money.

I clearly remember one kid, in particular, taking off his shoes and jumping into a cool stream and shouting with laughter because of how clear and clean and beautiful everything was. He'd never been to the redwoods before. The two-hour hot/cramped van ride was forgotten in an instant and the ugliness of the city and some of the realities they dealt with on a daily basis were, for a brief moment, remote.

Hope those kids are doing ok. God bless the Missionaries of Charity and the good work they do.

Pics from camping in the redwoods - reminded me of the field trip with the MoCs.

Majestic is as majestic does.

Little stick looks like it's trynna help a fallen log bro keep up.

Fallen tree.

Owl. Or is it!?

What is that bear off to hunt? Humans?

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