Rolling back the years at camp

July 10, 2009|By LISA PREJEAN

Last week I was truly feeling my age.

Accompanying a group of elementary-age children to a weeklong, out-of-state camp can be challenging for any adult, but for those of us who want to get the most out of every experience, it can be especially exhausting.

Why not participate in every event, try to keep up with the children and have an equal amount of fun? The answer would be about 30 years. My joints are 30 years older than theirs, my muscles are 30 years older than theirs, my bones are ...

You get the point.

Nevertheless, I was determined to keep up. Each day I woke up a little sorer, but with a little ibuprofen, I was ready to go.


The other female counselors who came to camp with their church groups seemed to hang back a bit. When I tried to encourage them to participate, one said, "Oh, no, you go ahead. We're cheering you on as our representative."

In hindsight, I think they were the smart ones, realizing their limitations and merely being satisfied to watch the activities.

So there I was playing games with the children and the college-age summer staff, pretending to roll back the years.

One day, I promised my campers if they won cabin cleanup that I would do a cannonball off the diving board. When they did, I followed through, but they critiqued my technique, and said my first cannonball didn't count. So I did another one, making sure that I didn't let go of my knees before they hit the water.

That wasn't too bad, although I did get a little winded between jumps.

There were constant reminders, though, of my true age. One afternoon during a water break, I discovered that one of the college counselors was born the year I got married.

And I was trying to keep up with her on the court and the field? Ha. No wonder I was tuckered.

But the children kept encouraging me to participate. "Play with us, Miss Lisa!"

How could I resist their sweet pleas? (Many Southerners teach their children to refer to adults as Miss or Mr. and their first name. The camp was in Tennessee, so that's how the children were instructed to address the adults.)

Another time that I felt my age was on the bus on the way home. We listened to one of the tapes I purchased at the camp when one of the little boys asked me a question.

"Miss Lisa, is this how you used to sound when you were young and beautiful?"

I laughed and said, "Oh, so I'm old and ugly, eh?"

"That's not what I meant," he said with an embarrassed look on his face.

I assured him that he and his friends made me feel young, and that I loved playing with them all week.

There are so many benefits of being with children. They help you laugh at yourself, realize your limitations and encourage you to have fun.

It was a great week, and I will cherish the memories we made.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to .

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