Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Camping surprises

It was a gorgeously sunny weekend for camping at Guelph Lake, full of many surprises of both kinds- the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful. 
  • EVERYONE from Welcome Home came- after weeks of inviting, attempting to explain what "camping" was (including one trip to the campground to let some of them see it in person) and right to the last minute, uncertainty over who would be coming.   Whew- we JUST had enough seatbelts for all 18 of us!
  • The brand-new, just around the corner from our site showers and flush toilets were NOT open yet.  That meant line-ups for the supremely smelly, always out of tp outhouse.
  • Maybe this should have been no surprise, but our guys caught NO FISH.  They certainly tried hard enough!
  • Speaking of fish, which usually makes me gag, the store-bought fried trout for supper was delicious!
  • Setting up and taking down 6 tents was a breeze, with all hands on deck, even though most of the group had never even slept in a North American style tent.  As one young woman insisted, "It would be shame for us not to help."
  • Speaking of tents, the NEST of newborn... rats, squirrels, chipmunk?  revealed when the tent was removed. The girls' maternal instincts sure showed up!
  • Sleeping Bags.  We all laughed (with relief?) when  the ladies discovered what a sleeping bag was and how neatly it turned a floor into a bed. 
  • Swimming.  I was sure that M, a middle-aged conservative Muslim, would not want to go swimming.  I mean, what would she WEAR?  And, many women from her culture have never been in a pool.  After discovering the miracle of pool noodles, she bobbed her way into "the sea" and hung out there for the next 4 hours.  I had to tow her into shallower water and try to explain that she should stay where she could touch the bottom.  My Arabic is not very good.  Check the photo for her wisely chosen swim costume.
  • Campfires- S'MORES were re-named "sugar sandwiches" and consumed in large quantities.  We sang whatever Scott or Marcee could strum.  Sam led us in a nightly game of guess the "Bible Characters", many of which are in the Qur'an, too.  Young Maja told loooong stories where ghosts look like white people.
  • Even camping is a RICH person's adventure.  I was asked many times how much a tent would cost, how much a night of camping costs, how far it is to Guelph Lake.  The wheels were turning, ideas and possibilities were being explored.  Even a day trip to the park for 4 is over $20 plus a car to get there...  I'm very rich. 
  • How REWARDING such a non-restful camping weekend could be!  Great memories, new experiences, deepening relationships.  A wife waiting to join her refugee husband wondered how he could be living so well and experiencing such amazing things.  As he wrestled with this, I reminded him that much of what he is dealing with right now is incredibly hard, even unjust.  And that he would need much strength and courage to keep going.  This weekend was about refreshing the soul along with fellow travelers.  He looked at me and nodded.