Planned and Unplanned Challenges: A Camp Highroad chaperone’s journal


On Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 I joined my daughter’s 6th grade class to begin our journey to Camp Highroad in Middleburg, VA. Being one of the few elementary schools to continue the tradition of a 6th-grade, 3-night trip, it felt like a rare honor. And it is! Having heard about it for years, all of the kids were excited to go and so was I!

I would shapperone a cabin of ten girls including my daughter and co-supervise another group of 16 kids during their daytime activities. I was expecting rustic cabins much like the cabins I stayed in during Girl Scout adventures or like those I experienced as a kid staying at Silver Birch Ranch in Wisconsin. As I arrived earlier than the busses of 6th graders, I dashed off to our cabin to claim my bed and scope out the surroundings in general.

The cabin looked pleasing on the outside with brown siding and a bright red door. I liked that there were shutters on the windows — not just screens. The walk to the cabin door was a bit tricky as there were many exposed tree roots making the path more like a set of jagged fun-house stairs than an even path, and I wondered why they didn’t fill in some extra soil to make it a little smoother — some of the kids could twist an ankle. I reminded myself that camp isn’t supposed to be all smooth sidewalks. Wasn’t there some study about uneven surfaces helping develop strength and balance?

Inside, the cabin was more rustic than I expected with walls of bare particle board, open rafters and a total of 12 cots situated inside with scant little room between. There was a fire extinguisher, a light switch controling two lighting fixtures, one set of electrical sockets, plus a strange metal clip of some kind.

The cots weren’t in the best shape — some solid greens and some white with stripes, some with the stains of good clean dirt, some slightly cracked from age. I hoped the girls wouldn’t be too concerned with this. Nobody will be spending much time inside the cabins anyway. I chose a cot close to the door so I could be easy to find for middle-of-the-night bathroom runs if needed. I plopped a pillow onto a cot next to mine to reserve it for my daughter. She gets homesick and having her close by is usually helpful.

When the girls arrived they chose their cots relatively quickly. The rustic appearance didn’t seem to phase them. If they were bothered, none of them said a word. I had to point out that the cot next to me was reserved for my daughter, but when she saw, she decided instead to sleep several beds down next to the wall. OK with me, but I was worried about later … Each girl had packed a sheet and they put these down on the mattress of the cot before laying out their sleeping bags. It was amazing how these small personal touches transformed the cabin from cold, wooden box to a cozy space in the forest.

More soon.

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