Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello, Muddah.

I've lost track of how many rainy days we've had lately, but if you count the wine bottles in the recycling bag I just hefted out onto the curb, I'd say we've had more than our share.

But gimme a break. Working at home is a self-motivating bitch at the best of times. Toss in a recession and an otherwise-active, now bored teenager and you've got a scene from Days of Wine and Roses.

"Look at me! Look at you. You're a bum. Look at you. And look at us. Look at us. C'mon look at us! See? A couple of bums". That's my best Jack Lemmon.

Things came to a head this weekend when I suggested Jack turn off XBox Live and read a book. His reaction had me lurching for the broom closet so I could beat him to a pulp and not ruin the $200 goalie stick within reach; but then I realized we don't have a broom closet, so I did the next best thing.

I decided I'd send the lethargic little fucker to camp.

That's right. Camp. Algonquin Park. Urine-stained bunkbeds. Hazing rituals. Mosquitoes the size of Timbits. Camp Counsellor's named Chip who themselves got sent away from the comfort of their Rosedale enclave eleven years ago, for playing too much PONG.

That'll teach him. If my kid thinks he can't survive one hour without Call of Duty, texting, or maid service, let's see how he makes out cooking dinner over a fire and wiping his ass with a fern frond after pushing a canoe through brackish water all day.

I emailed an old friend, Hugh Statten and told him it was an emergency and Jack was fairly normal, athletic, makes friends easily, but, he was bugging the shit out of me. Hugh's family own Camp Ahmek, on Canoe Lake, in Algonquin Park – Tom Thompson's old hangout. I worked there many moons ago driving the barge from the boy's camp to the girl's camp, so I figured I'd have an in. We'd leave immediately, and Jack could wait on the dock until the other campers arrived. July 6th.

The sad thing is, Jack would love camp. So screw that. I've decided to send myself to camp instead. Wine and Roses camp.

That's right. When I get a chance I'm off to a cabin at Milford House. Just past Keji park, on the way to Annapolis Royal, Milford House is the closest thing a girl will find to an Algonquin Park type camp experience east of Rivière du Loup. It consists of a main lodge that looks a bit like Green Gables (with a liquor license) and a lake dotted with little cottages – the perfect combination of rustic and rustic comfy. Sitting on the cabin porch, you'd swear Tom Thompson will paddle up to the dock for cocktails.

Jack and I stayed in a Milford House cabin a few years back before our mountain bikes got stolen. We biked all day in Keji park, then headed back to base camp. The bonus is, the Milford folks operate on the Modified American Plan which means rates include breakfast and dinner.

Hey, I said I liked camp, not camping.

So Jack, the bum, has dodged the first camp bullet. And we've since laid down some summer ground rules: No drinking before The Young and the Restless. Do not invite friends to stay for dinner while they are standing there, because dinner is yet to be determined and could be soggy crackers and cheese or something I scrape off the freezer wall. Daily outdoor exercise is mandatory, as is, reading something other than Sports Illustrated every day, and not just while sitting on the toilet. And XBox Live is limited to an hour, or two, per day. Unless it's raining, then drinking can commence with Regis & Kelly.

Oh, and if you roll your eyes at me, even once, in that teenage way, you'll be sharing a soggy sleeping bag and singing Frere Jacques around a campfire at a Bible camp for bums who stutter and wet the bed, somewhere deep in the Ozarks, until Labour Day.

And I mean it.

Milford House is 21 km (14 mi) south of Annapolis Royal on Route #8, in South Milford, on Nova Scotia's Evangeline Trail. Check out their website at Or call Toll-Free 1-877-532-5751. I cannot tell you how much fun it is there, rain or shine. Even with the little bastards tagging along.