Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God really is in the details. So be sure to take a magnifiying glass to the details.

I'll tell you all about my day at JURY DUTY FUN TIMES later, but first, by request, and fasten your seatbelts, because this is a long one:

How I Accidentally Sent the Girl to Bible Camp:
A Sadly True Story.

Years ago, when the girl was in elementary school, her class went to a nature camp about an hour away from where we live.

I, of course, did not go, because I hate nature [and Nature], and pretty much all children and probably most of their parents and for sure the experience of sleeping in a bunk bed.

The husband did not go because he is a workaholic and this was not a field trip to a sporting event, like a baseball game, which is the only field trip he magically found time to chaperone.

So the girl went with her classmates and those parents who are better at being outside/more patient with children.  A win for everyone! 

Needless to say, she LOVED IT.  Loved being outside and loved camping and campfires and camping games and ziplining and making campfire stew and scratching bug bites and all that other stuff that people do when communing with the great outdoors.

A few weeks after she came back, we got a brochure from the camp advertising its various summer camps - stuff like Outdoor Survival and Live Like Hill People and The Many Uses of Pinecones.  The girl lobbied to be able to camp - a whole week in the outdoors! How exciting! - and the husband and I were trying to figure out what to do with her while we worked during the summer [probably throwing kibble on the floor and making sure the water bowls would be filled was not going to work].  We looked at the brochure, checked it out online, and it looked like a good, American, outdoorsy place to be.

While we were checking this out, friends of ours were also looking for a camp to send their son to.  They were thinking of sending him to a Catholic camp up north.  The husband asked if they were really sure they wanted to send their 11 year old boy out into the woods with priests. 

We met for dinner and lots of drinking and decided it would be nice for the kids to go to camp together.  They'd know someone, they already knew the layout of the camp, and why not? Fun, right?

So my friend got on the phone with the camp and did more checking around and let me know that she was pleased with the camp and impressed with their credentials.  I figured, great, between our information pool, this should be a great place for the kids to be for a week.

We told the girl she and her friend would be going to camp together.  They were excited.  We got applications and sent in the check. The husband, as he was filling out the check, said to me, "You know this is run by the Detroit Presbytery, don't you?" I was busy playing SuperMario or something and said, "Yeah, sure, that's fine," because although I had no idea what the Detroit Presbytery was and though it sounded kind of religious, I figured it was like the Girl Scouts or the YMCA.  Sure, that Christian thing is in the YMCA, but I've not really seen how it affects their day to day operations of a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Then we got the information packet from the camp, including the packing list.  Here are the first few items, which may have caused a more aware person to pause:
Sleeping Bag
The girl and I looked at it and went, "Huh."  I said, "Well, maybe people like to take their bibles with them places." I don't know.  I mean, people do, right?  Or is that just Jehova's Witnesses? How would I know?  I was raised Muslim and am currently . . . a lapsed Muslim, the husband was raised Catholic and is currently an atheist/agnostic [depending on the day] and the girl was raised without much religion at all, except for random holiday visits to mosques and churches and exposure to kid's books such as The Children's Bible and What is God? and What is Islam? [Can you guess that the grandparents were suppliers of reading materials? Except for What is God? I got her that when she started asking all kinds of questions that I had no interest in answering.] and so she's identified herself as an atheist.

So we packed everything, except the bible, and, on beautiful summer Sunday, we drove an hour to the camp and dropped her off, meeting up with our friends so we parents could head out and enjoy some FREE TIME!

My first clue that something was not what I had thought it would be [yes, besides the whole Detroit Presbytery and instruction to pack a bible] was that the guy directing traffic into the camp was wearing a t-shirt with a tree that had a cross in it.  I thought that was kind of Jesus-y, but what do I know?  People wear religious t-shirts everywhere - the gym, court, hoedowns.  Why not while directing camp traffic?

Ignoring this omen, we unloaded the girl's stuff, signed her in, and helped her set up her bunk.  There were a number of other girls already there, and they seemed nice, as did the counselors.  The building was set near a lake and in the midst of all types of greenery and probably near where a lot of woodland creatures made their homes.  The girl's friend was to bunk on the other side of the building and we checked out his space and they looked like they were ready for us to leave, so we left.

And had a lovely dinner.

And enjoyed our week at home, with the quiet and the knowledge that the girl was having the kind of nature-inspired fun she'd never get from us personally.

So a week went by and we drove back out to pick her up.  She looked tan, tired, and happy.  We got in the car and headed home, basking in a parental job well done.  And I asked, "Well, how was it? Did you have fun?"

The girl: It was a bible camp.

Me: What?

The girl:  It was a bible camp.  I was the only person there without a bible.

Me: What?!?

The girl:  BIBLE CAMP.  We had vespers and said grace and they had religious sing alongs that everyone but me knew the words to and people were supposed to read from the bible every day and IT WAS BIBLE CAMP.

Me: I am so sorry.  Oh, my fucking god, I am sorry.

[Meantime, the husband and I are avoiding eye contact because I can see he is going to burst out laughing and I am about a second away from losing it.]

The girl:  It was fine.  We got to swim and stuff, but I was the only person there who was not Christian.  And I didn't have a bible, so I had to borrow someone's to read when it was my turn, and I still don't even know what vespers is.

The husband: Vespers is something something [I forget what].

Me: Oh, honey, I'm so sorry.  I'll do a better job of checking out where we send you from now on.

The girl: Yeah, thanks.

The husband:  I told you it was run by the Detroit Presbytery.


The girl: It was fine.

Me: Do you want to go back next year?

The girl:  NO!

And so I spent an hour's drive apologizing and trying not to laugh.  The girl suffered no long-term ill effects and still enjoys the outdoors.

A few weeks later, I was cleaning the girl's room and ran across her journal from the camping trip.  Now, I am a pretty big stickler for privacy because I was afforded absolutely none as a child, but I couldn't help myself, I had to see what she'd written.

There were only a few pages with writing, and they all had a variation on this theme:

Mom and Dad



We still periodically ask her if she wants to go back. She always says no.


  1. OMFG I LMAO on this one! If that were my kid, I would have gotten a phone call from her the second she got of the bus, with direct orders to bring a black hooded cape and pentagram to help exercise the Christianity out of her. Followed by questions of "why do you hate me?" and "did I do something wrong?" Your poor, poor daughter. That's at least six months in therapy. I took my kids to church once. I was almost burned by the holy water and they still curse me for it.

  2. I got nothin' but laughter on this one. Bible camp. Yep. Still laughing.

    Sarah xxx

  3. Bible Camp....a notch below Band Camp but still better than Fat Camp.

  4. LOL!!!

    Growing up, I sort of had the opposite experience. I was raised Christian and still am, as is my mother... and every year I couldn't wait to go to Bible camp. Which, as a church-going parent, would seem like a good thing for their child to want to do. But every year she was HORRIFIED and begged me not to go. However, it was not her aversion to the Bible, so much as her aversion to nature. She was like "I can't believe I'm expected to leave my daughter in a place with bugs and bunk beds and where she has to walk to the bathhouse just to use the toilet!" Pretty much, she's good with God, just not his creation, particularly! Yet, I'm not sure what the big deal was. The Catholic school they sent me to was much more traumatic than a few bug bites. :-)

  5. That is almost like THE GREATEST.THING.EVER. So fucking funny that fucking funny doesn't do it justice. I am way too into the details of shit like that for me to have done something like that, plus I have a sixth sense for anything that even has a whiff of religion to it because I have been traumatized by it. But I fuck up equally in so many other ways that I wouldn't even know where to begin. I feel so much better knowing you're out there in the suniverse practicing a kind of parenting I can relate to.
    Plus, it says some pretty awesome things about your kid that she weathered all that god stuff so well! So really, this was all just a commentary and sign (not from above, of course!) of what an excellent mother you are!

  6. Camping isn't my thing either. I need a hotel with room serice.

    My dad used to threaten me with Catholic school. And convent school. SO NOT ME!

    I'm thinking of starting a therapy fund for my kid to make amends for sending him to Catholic school. I'm not religious, I don't want him to end up like the losers in the neighborhood. He is all into the Catholic thing and we just aren't.

  7. Wow. Just...wow.

    You do realize that she has an Ace in her back pocket now.

    You better start saving up for that laptop or trip to Europe she's gonna want to make up for doing that... #badmommy

  8. HAHAH Hysterical!!!

    DId you see the documentary "Jesus Camp"? It's on instant download on Netflix and it's quite an eye opener if you want to check it out. You may feel a tad bit more guilty for sending the girl to bible camp after watching it though ;)

  9. I want to send my child with another family to go somewhere! Sign me up!

  10. oops haha so funny. i should note however that when my parents sent me to Bible camp as a teenager I did lots of things that were discouraged in the Bible with male campers. It's not always the most holy of crowds

  11. oh, WOW. at least it was just the presbyterians, though. when i was a christian, i ran with them. my mom was heavy into it. on the whole, they weren't so bad. a lot of "michael, row your boat ashore" kinda folk-singer-y stuff. jesus is just all right with me, hippie-dippy christianity.

    could've been worse; it could've been the baptists. [shudder.]

  12. I don't begrudge anyone their religion, or that there are bible camps--which are probably great for bible-reading people, but that sounds like my personal brand of hell. I don't know how I'd have handled that if I were in your daughter's shoes...
    I mean, I don't go to punk rock concerts either...just sayin'.

  13. well, at least it wasn't vodka camp.

  14. My parents sent me to Jew camp every summer for years. ON PURPOSE.

  15. I went to Bible Camp once. They should have renamed it make-out camp. I made a mental note to remember that camp is about snogging and keep reminding myself, now that I am a parent.

  16. Great writing! This post made my day.

    My daughter learned about Jesus at daycare. She came home and announced that the Baby Jesus wasn't a baby anymore and said, "He's about 16. He is as big as the sky. And he does tricks!"

    I am guessing we will all be left behind in the rapture.

  17. Geebus Cripes! Not only did we both write today about harrowing christian experiences, but this made me pee myself a little, especially you saying: "Oh, my fucking god, I am sorry".
    true story- I went to a bible camp wedding once made out with 6 guys and drank 12 tequila shots, so I second Sue's comment above.

    also I had an awesome comment for yesterdays blog but blogger (that dumb fuck content management system) would NOT let me post. I would like credit for being witty and urbane plz.

  18. That was hilarious -- especially because I've read a lot of novels in which people mention going to vespers, and I still have no idea what vespers are (or maybe what vespers is, since I've never heard of a solitary vesper).

  19. Dying.

    My parents sent me to a CHRISTIAN SCIENCE camp when I was in middle school. A B-list celebrity from our neighborhood offered to send kids to this camp in Colorado and my dad was a teacher and we were broke so they thought "Cool. Free camp."

    I swear to God (or vespers or whatever) I was bitten by a spider the second night (out of 7). My eye swelled shut for the rest of the trip but because the counselors and campers were Christian Scientists, everyone ignored it.

    I was half-blind. But whatever.

    It was actually not a terrible week (despite the cyclops thing).

    But HELL no I never went back.

    (and vespers. what?)

  20. LOL...OMG that is CLASSIC! Seriously....I am laughing through tears because that had to be ..OMG, Did you get her Therapy for her birthday that year? Cause she totally deserved it.

    and I want to say that I frequented the Catholic camps in my Middle and Early HS years and the activities at those places was um, well...I don't want to come off sounding TROLLOP"Y" but I got a good education in stuff ;) (if you know what I mean)

    maybe try to send her to that one next time. LOL

    OH GOD, HOW I LOVE YOU. Seriously.

  21. oh and just so you....I FUCKING HATE CAMPING. I swear to god if these little boys like any part of it, I am going to sit my head in the oven.

  22. I am absolutely losing my shit reading this. Oh, dear god.

    I remember, checking into music camp. I had no idea what to expect - I went searching & searching for a "don't sleep at home" camp where I wouldn't have to sing in the choir. I finally found one in Lancaster country, PA - which is the heart of Amish Country.

    I had a great time, but the first night, I was in a room with two Bible-thumpers and I really was afraid that I was going to end up being preached to every night.

    Ironically, I ended up joining the choir because a cute girl was in it (surprising, coming from me, I know) and hanging out with her & her friends each and every free moment I had.

    It wasn't Bible camp, but it nearly ended up being that to me.

  23. I found your site from somewhere else, I don't know. Anyway, here I am.


    I am in your husband's category of religion, so this bible camp sounds like pure hell (pun intended). How awesome that your daughter is still talking to you.

    Great story!!

  24. "Vespers is something something" - best line. Your poor daughter. WOW. She took it all so well! What a trooper. But fucking awesome post material.

  25. And I thought six years of Catholic school and six more years of weekend catechism were bad enough. Thank god I didn't land in religious camp. It's only because my parents were outdoors purists: no stinkin' camps with fancy beds and running water for our family.

  26. Oh, god..

    best story ever.

    And how you tell it.

    Yes, you are right...someone else [meaning: not me or you] would have raised an eyebrow at the packing list BIBLE.

    pee my pants funny, "hmmm...well...maybe they like to take their bibles with them camping.."

  27. I'm dying. This is soooo funny!!! You are my Mom Hero. In a sick and twisted (re: wonderful) way.

  28. Hahahah that is hysterical. Boyfriend accidentally went to bible camp as a kid. He was going with a friend who was into it, but then that friend got sick and had to go home so he had to hang out there alone. Not good.


Every time you comment, I get a lady boner.