Monday, July 30, 2007

Hypothermia and Physical Empowerment (OR: Why Camp is a Good Thing)

The average summer surface temperature in Puget Sound is somewhere between fifty and fifty-five degrees. That is cold. In case you were wondering. Time from immersion to death from hypothermia, according to one report I read, is about two hours.

Of course I read this several days after I spent an hour in the water. For fun.

There's something magical for me about swimming in the Sound. When you start out, it's so cold you have to go in about an inch at a time, and every progression makes you gasp. But once you're finally immersed the endorphins kick in, your skin goes numb and you are no longer cold. It's the definition of euphoria. I could stay there all day. (Except for the minor fact that it would be fatal. There is that.)

Of course, once I came out and realized I couldn't walk a straight line and couldn't open the door to my cabin? Well, that's the point where I realized that I might have overdone it a bit. Live and learn.

(And don't worry. We protect the campers from this kind of stupidity. Where the adults are concerned, we assume common sense. Ahem.)

It occurred to me, late in the week, that camp is all about physical explorations like this. And where else in the universe can this happen?

Yes, you can enter freezing cold water and live to tell the tale. Yes, you can hike through the woods, up and down hills and over mossy bridges while battling mosquitos the size of small birds. Yes, you can leap from a four-foot-high platform onto a wooden disk attached to a twenty-five-foot rope and fly through the air as the rope swings away from the hill, until you're looking down from twenty feet in the air. And then you can use your own upper body strength to hold onto the rope and slide off until your feet hit the ground and you realize you have landed, safely. And then you can get back in line to do it again.

This is what camp is.

My family and I got back on Saturday from our annual sojourn to a local Methodist church camp. This one was for grades 3-7. My husband and I run the week, our older two are leaders, and our yougest is a camper. It's one of our favorite weeks of the year, for a lot of reasons. And one of those is this sense of physical empowerment that is so rare in the real world.

I don't think I would ever have tried kayaking if not for camp. Now our annual night kayaking experience (leaders only) is one of my favorite events of the year. You glide through the water with the moonlight lighting up everything around you, and the miracle of phosphorescence dripping off of your paddle like a million diamonds. When you stick your hand in and splash around, the water lights up. When fish swim underneath you, you can follow their paths by the phosphorescent light they leave in their wake.

We were out Thursday night at around midnight, five leaders, two LITs (one male, one female, both fifteen) and Brad, the lifeguard/guide. At one point the five adults were cruising smoothly back toward camp when Brad caught up to us and asked us to hold up. The LITs were dawdling and flirting back a few hundred yards and he couldn't make them hurry up. And since we all needed to hit the shore at the same time, he asked us to raft up (pull in beside each other, holding onto the paddle of the kayaks on either side) and wait. And so we sat there for five minutes or so, staring up at the stars, enjoying the moonlight and the laughter that comes automatically when you're at camp with people whose company you enjoy.

A few minutes later we looked behind us and thought we saw the other kayaks. As we watched, they got closer quickly. One of my leaders said, "Doesn't look like they're dawdling now. I wonder what Brad said to hurry them up?"

It turned out that Brad hadn't done anything. While they'd been dawdling back by themselves, a sea lion had surfaced out of the black a few feet from their kayaks and scared the holy heck out of them, causing them to decide that being with the larger group wasn't such a bad idea after all.

They will still be telling this story in fifty years.

And that's the magic and the miracle of camp. The kayaks and the Sound and the rope swing and the stories that will stick with you forever.

(But if you're considering swimming for an hour? I don't recommend it. Except that I really do.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blogging in a Small World (or What Hath Beckh@m Wrought?)

You know you've been neglecting your blog when you have to concentrate fiercely to remember your login info. I have mentally written many, many blog posts on topics as diverse as expensive baseball season tickets and sex offenders (two different topics, just so you know) in the past few weeks, but for some reason none have made it as far as my computer screen. I shall try to do better.

But yes, I have been soccer blogging. In case you've been living under a rock, David Beckh@m officially came to the L@ G@laxy yesterday. A zoo, a circus, and not quite as fun to write about as it was when the team was just a bunch of losing nobodies. (And Landon Donovan. Attach that sentence to the previous one as desired.)

And connected to the Beckh@m hoopla, I received the following e-mail through my G@laxy blog yesterday.

Hi Laurie

I'm dropping you a quick email from [Name of] Press in England with an
opportunity I hope you might be interested in. We are currently
considering a book about Beckh@m's move to L@ for our forthcoming
list. The book would follow his journey from England and Real Madrid
reject, thru signing for the Gal@xy, rehabilitation and triumph with
England and Real, and cover his first (partial) season in LA. It's
intended that it would be insightful and irreverent, covering not just
the soccer but also the fairly ridiculous 'circus' that surrounds the
Beckhams. We need someone 'on the ground' to give us a US perspective. I've been following your very good blog and wonder if you'd like to be involved? Let me know, and I'll supply more details.

Best regards,

[editor name]

[name of] Press

I researched the publisher last night, and they're small, independent and British. So it doesn't sound like the book would be expected to be huge.

It's odd. I love to write. I love soccer. I'm incredibly flattered. And I'm uncertain. I'm a nobody. I know nothing. I'd have to give up my anonymity. I don't know that I WANT my real name and real life to be associated with the Beckham circus.

But still, it's kind of cool to be asked. I've got an e-mail in asking for more info. We'll see where this goes.