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Saturday, August 25, 2018

School Camp Cooties

Lake Moogerah

“You know what thing I dread most about the school camp?” I whined to Scotto on the eve of my departure on a three day foray into the wilderness with twenty-five small children and a nervous mindset. “I dread having a shower in the freezing cold, uninsulated shed.” I continued my whinging after a period of non-response from him. “The temperature gets down to below zero out there in the bush!” 

“Don’t have a shower then,” Scotto answered blithely. “Just give your moot a splash and use extra deodorant.”

After I googled what a “moot” was, I sat for a while musing on how typical this response was for a male of our species.

One little boy wore the same shirt for the entire three days. He slept in the same shirt as well because he’d forgotten to pack anything else. By the end of camp he’d cultivated and housed his own personal, interactive community of organisms.

On the second day, I spied another boy heading to the shower with only a towel draped over his arm.

“Where are your clean clothes, Othello?” I called out to him as he hurtled along the path.

He shrugged and beamed innocently.

“Well? Where are they?” I repeated.

“I’m wearing them, Mrs Poinker.”

“But aren’t they the clothes you’ve had on all day?” I asked, recalling the day’s sweaty hike up to a gorge, the muddy trek along the lake’s edge and the enthusiastic rolling around in the dirt during a particularly intense orienteering activity.

He nodded, grinning sheepishly and shuffling his feet.

“You can’t put dirty clothes on again after a shower,” I said. “Have you at least got some clean jocks with you?”

He vigorously shook his head in the negative.

I sent him, dragging his feet reluctantly, back to the cabin to retrieve clean clothes and watched him return with his fresh clothes clutched in filthy hands.

It was imperative that I sit outside the shower block while the boys were ensconced inside, ‘pretending’ to wash themselves, in case anyone did anything silly. There was quite a lot of boisterous activity to be heard from within.

Little Aloysius emerged from the building and sat beside me on the steps with his wet hair sticking up at all angles.

“Smell this, Mrs Poinker,” he shoved an opened, liquid soap bottle under my nose.

“Mmmm, it smells lovely,” I said politely. It was very… earthy smelling... with unknown undertones.

“Do you want it Mrs Poinker? You can have it!” he offered passionately.

“No thanks, Aloysius,” I declined with as much grace as possible.

“No really Mrs Poinker. You can have it. I mean it.”

“No Aloysius. You take it home to Mum. I have some soap already.”

“Just take it Mrs Poinker. I want you to have it.” He was most insistent.

Othello emerged from the raucous cacophony that was the shower block, barely three minutes after he’d entered.

His hair was slightly damp so I presumed he’d at least stuck his head under the shower nozzle.

“Smell this!” Aloysius thrust the soap bottle under Othello’s nose. Othello grimaced and shuddered, then vaulted down the stairs and bounded back to the cabin before I could do a proper visual inspection of his person.

“I really, really, really want you to have this soap, Mrs Poinker,” Aloysius resumed his sales pitch.

At that point, I heard the dinner bell and managed to shuffle Aloysius off to the dining hall without hurting his feelings.

After dinner, my school principal (who was on camp with us) decided to take the kids out star gazing. The bitterly cold air bit into my face as I tentatively picked my way along the rocky path to the lake with only the children’s’ torches to light our way. 

By this stage, an exhausted, feverish euphoria began to set into my brain and I had to muffle hysterical giggling as my principal attempted to point out the Southern Cross while simultaneously chastising the boys who were pointing blinding torches directly into his face.

“Do you see those stars forming Orion’s Belt?” he asked the kids with more patience than a saint. Some of the boys were doing ‘the floss’ to keep warm which made me giggle even more because they looked funny doing the floss in their pyjamas.

“Who was the ‘Orion’ that Orion’s Belt was named after?” my principal asked the group of flossing midgets.

“Windscreens Orion,” I whispered deliriously.

One of the boys overheard me. “Yeah! That’s right!” he exclaimed gleefully and whispered this revelation to two of his buddies. They all had their hands wriggling desperately in the air to tell the principal that Orion’s Belt was named after Windscreens Orion.

Disappointingly, he didn’t call on them so my extremely immature joke went unappreciated.

Despite arriving home with chapped lips, bright red, wind burned cheeks and a bruise on my forehead from being struck with an errant oar during canoeing, it was a great camp.

Nobody was homesick and we all slept soundly every night.

“Mrs Poinker, I can’t even really remember what my parents are like,” quipped one little girl in amazement on the third day of camp.

Now that’s proof that we ALL had a good time.