Monday, March 14, 2011

Camping Out

I did something on Friday night that I never thought I would ever do.

I camped out - in line - so Harlie could have a spot in a summer camp provided by the county we live in.  The camp is two weeks long, Monday through Friday, 9am to 12 noon, for just $30!!!  And it is right across the street from my neighborhood.

Every year, in mid-March, the county has summer camp registration.  Some of the camps have on-line registration available (like Murphy's Summer Blast program - which is FREE!!!). But some camps require walk-in registration, like Harlie's Kinder Camp.

Registration starts at 8am.  But the line forms 12 hours prior!!!!  NO JOKE!

Last year, my friend Jennifer signed her daughter (Kyleigh) up for one of these camps.  She arrived to get in line at around 3am (I think).  But, she did not get her first choices for location.  Which was a bummer.

Some other friends of mine camped out for the night.  And to be honest, it seemed RIDICULOUS to me.  And there was NO way I was going to do something that crazy.  Last year, Tom was out of town, so there was no way I could do it anyway.  But, luckily the Summer Blast programs are available to register on-line.  But it fills up in minutes.  It's FREE, afterall.

So, registration was past, and summer arrived.  And a few times Harlie and I had to take or pick Kyleigh up from her camp.  Oh, Harlie was so sad to not be able to stay and play with her!  Everything looked so fun!  So, mental note:  perhaps I should re-consider my feelings toward registration.

Fast forward to last week, with registration time quickly approaching.  Jennifer tells me that she is not making the same mistake as last year.  Getting there in the wee hours of the morning did not work out so well.  So, her plan this year?  Get there super early, set up a tent, and make a night out of it.  She got a babysitter for the night and her husband was going to camp with her so she wasn't alone.  Hmmmm.

And that's when the words I never thought I would speak, were spoken.

Maybe I could camp out with you so I can register Harlie, too.  

ACK!!!!  Even as I spoke, I could feel my insides cringing.  It is COLD outside.  And we would be completely exposed to any crazy person walking along wanting to inflict harm on someone not locked safely away in a house!

But then Jennifer told me that the police station is in the same parking lot and there are police officers coming and going all night.  She said, "I'm pretty sure we'll be okay."

Oh, alright then.  Mental note to self:  look into getting that taser gun...

So, her husband was super happy because he didn't have to do something so stupid as camping out in the Public Safety (I forgot that's actually the name of the building, now it seems even funnier) parking lot in 30 degree temperatures.  No, that would be ME.  And Jennifer.  And she didn't have to pay a babysitter.  So, I was doing a good thing.  For everyone.  Really.  

Friday night arrives and plans are set.  Jennifer will go and set up at 8pm and I will get there as soon as the kids are in bed.  At 7pm, the phone rings and it's Jennifer.  She's already there!  Tom said, "Tell her the Grateful Dead stopped touring 10 years ago."

Ahh, too funny.

And the best part?  SHE'S FIRST IN LINE!  It really cracks me up - this whole situation.

So, I got there around 8:30ish.  Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!

Tents were set up this way (that's Jennifer by the way)...

And that way...

Jennifer's friend, Monica (she wouldn't let me take her picture), came to bring some hats and gloves and to have a drink with us.  Shhhh, don't tell anyone.  I don't think you're supposed to drink on county property.  

Just hanging out, having fun...

...freezing our asses off.  

Going to pee was no picnic, either.  

I slept in long pants, socks, tennis shoes, a tank top, two long sleeved shirts, a heavy fleece jacket, a scarf, a hat, gloves, a North Face sleeping bag (rated for low temps), AND a fleece blanket.  Comfy.

Jennifer was so cold during the night that she put her gloves on her feet.

Jennifer provided the chairs - camping ones (really nice!) that recline.  Unfortunately, I had to have most of my body weight on the upper portion of the chair to keep it in the reclining position.  If I straightened my legs out - the chair started to go in the upright position.  Ugh.  

The other negative things about the night were:

1)  the dude that was second in line brought a television and watched old shoot-em-up movies.  So, it kinda felt like we were in a war-ravaged country.  Not really what I was expecting.  At about midnight, Jennifer looked out the tent window and he wasn't even watching it!!!  So she asked someone to turn it down.  He finally turned it off a few minutes later.  Seriously, you can't go one lousy evening without watching television??  Loser.  Luckily, this is the last year for summer camp for his kid.  So, he won't be back.  And yes, this means that I will be.  Yay for me.

2)  At about 11:30ish the party people showed up.  You know there's always one group that thinks they are so funny that everyone wants hear them.  Well, on our way back to the tent from a little walk to the woods, we met them while they were unloading.  Geez.  They clearly make this an annual "event" complete with a full-on poker table, grill and generator.  And no, they never slept.  Yay for us.  

3) I pictured a bunch of moms hanging out in line, chatting.  No.  Most of the line was full of dads.  And boy did I feel STUPID.  Of course all the smart moms send the dads to camp out in the cold.  But, no, not us.  Next year, we're changing things up a bit.  That was an event that Tom would totally love.  He would know everyone in line within minutes.  Yay for him.

This is how long the line was in the wee hours of daylight on Saturday morning:

It was during this time that we smelled breakfast cooking.  Yum.  Jennifer ran to get us some fast food biscuits and caffeine.  

I know it's hard to see... but trust me, this line was LONG.  An aerial shot would better illustrate it.  And look at all the people that just sat in chairs - with no tent - all night long!  Now they are crazy.  Not us.  Nope.  Them.

While taking down the tent and putting stuff in my car, I met some people in line.  They saw that I came from up front and asked me what time I got there.  So, I asked them the same -  2:30am.  And they were far in line.  No thanks.  I told them there is no way I would leave my nice warm bed, to wake up and go sit in the cold at 2:30am.  It was better for me to just start out the night like that.  Granted, I didn't get much sleep, but still.  

Finally, 7:55am arrived, and we were all in line, ready to register!  It really was funny.  Funny conversations, funny situation.  Then an employee came out and asked us to follow him.  We walked forever around in there (trying to make the line as long as possible inside the building so people could come out of the cold - isn't that nice?).  Then we got to the registration room.  Yay!  

It was hysterical because a guy was waving us back while walking backwards in front of us.  He said, "We will not begin registration until 8 o'clock.  GET READY PEOPLE!"  He was talking to the employees - who looked extremely frightened.  And I don't blame them.  

There were 15 people poised and ready at lap tops.  Jennifer and I went to spots 1 and 2 and I had to bust out laughing.  All this for summer camp?  Funny!

The lady that was helping Jennifer said she had knots in her stomach, she was so nervous.  She said they were afraid that they would mess things up and our kids wouldn't get in after we spent all night in line.  I highly doubt she's getting paid enough to compensate her for that kind of stress.

This is the dude (in the red coat) that watched, what I can only assume, was 3 times.

See that line?  And that was just a fraction of it!  I really wish I could have gotten a photo to truly illustrate the craziness of it all.  And - as if that isn't enough people - this was just ONE registration location!  There is another one on the other side of town.  But one could only assume that they are registering for locations on that side of town.  

So, in summary, I got Murphy all signed up for Summer Blast, and Harlie for Kinder Camp.  And Jennifer got her son signed up for an older kids camp and Kyleigh for Kinder Camp.   All our first choices, of course.  


Then we went home.  The end.

And people say I'm crazy for wanting a dog...  No.  I'm just CRAZY!!!  And I wasn't before I had kids.  Just sayin'. 

Oh!  And the next morning Tom and I realized that was the FIRST night that I have been away and Tom was here with the kids alone.  Ever.  Now that's just sad.  I predict some girl's weekends in my future.  



Kristen said...

That's not crazy...that's dedication! I'm impressed!! One day when Harlie is a teenager she will read this blog post and say, "Mom! This means you'll camp out with me for Justin Bieber (or his contemporary at the time) tickets, right???!!!"

Suzanne said...

I don't know. I think it is crazy! With that kind of hullaballoo maybe they should charge $50 a kid and double the size they can accomodate. Awesome story and I agree with Kristen that you've set a dangerous precedent with Miss Harlie! :)

Anonymous said...

You lost me at Girl's weekend..............

Chloe said...

now, that's some serious dedication! Hope the kiddos enjoy their camps and I hope you get a girls weekend, soon!

Susan said...

I've never heard of FREE CAMP that's bound to induce some craziness in parents. I think if you ask Tom he's going to say you just had your girls weekend. Just kidding. You should do it now that you've broken the ice. And next year send him. :) It's great that you got them in though.

Just Diane said...

You are awesome! I would have sent my husband FO SHO. I whine entirely too much and I would have used the night to watch tv in my cozy bed. Yep...