It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was 12 years old. Seriously. I remember how great it was to get away from my parents with other kids, that feeling of freedom of camping out and doing generally inappropriate stuff away from overly watchful eyes.
I also remember my own child being 12, and how happy I was to palm her off onto someone else for a night.
Every Thursday night at Paradise Ranch is ‘adults only’ night, with a gourmet dinner followed by music in the saloon. All the kids, from littlies to teenagers, head off to an overnight camp, separated into age groups.
The older kids ride off into the wilderness on horseback ... the younger ones (under 9) walk up to a camp off Ski Slope; while the tweens have their own camp up near Fan Rock. I joined the latter group for a couple of hours last night to check out what they get up to.
Let by the intrepid kids counsellor Meg with her Ninja Turtle backpack of supplies, eight kids aged between 9 and 13 headed up through North Pasture, pretty excited about getting away for the night. While some of the girls seemed reticent about sleeping in a tent, the boys were pumped and couldn’t wait to start exploring the rocky outcrops near the camp site.
In fact, as Meg and Jeremy cooked the dinner of hot dogs and Mac and Cheese (unfortunately due to fire restrictions, they couldn’t cook over an open campfire), the kids pretty much disappeared, clambering over the rocks and generally running amuck.
Fortunately this group was quite independent, so keeping them entertained was not an issue. Meg had some games planned for later in the evening, but first up was camp popcorn and s’mores, everyone’s favourite camp treat.
I must admit to being more than happy to wander back down the hill around 8pm, leaving Meg, Jeremy and the tweens to their own devices... but I’m sure there was more fun to be had as the sun went down over Paradise Ranch... I'm just glad I wasn't there to witness it!