I took the kids and a kite to the East Ward School field yesterday evening. We have a small parafoil kite that’s very easy to handle. Just a little wind and even the little one was holding the reel himself. There was enough wind to get the kite aloft, but not quite enough to keep it very high in the air. Abby and Riley chased the dangling tail around the lot, and we all had a nice outing.

On the way back, I was thinking about camp. When I was younger, I went camping many times with my dad, with Scouts, and once on the Appalacian Trail from Pennsylvania, through West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia to Harper’s Ferry.

Maybe it’s just my perception of things, and I could be completely wrong on this account, but I don’t remember any of the “cool kids” from school doing anything like this. What did those kids do instead of camp?

Camping, you learn some of the basics of survival. More than making S’mores and cooking English Muffin pizzas in homemade campfire ovens, you can use that opportunity to really see what life would be like without the conveniences of modern plumbing and electricity. At the least, it presents an opportunity for knowing how good you have things back at home. This appreciation is especially acute when your gas heater goes on the fritz in the middle of the night, and you wake up woozy and nauseated from the gas trapped in your tent.

My 6th grade fieldtrip (one of the last, if not the last year this was done) was a week trip with teachers and camp counselors to cabins in the woods. We did all sorts of different survival games, competing in three large teams. I suppose the value of that experience is lost along with our wilderness these days. In the days of GPS and cell phones, who needs to know how to navigate by compass?

Looking back at my school days and social circles is pretty odd. Everyone had their clique to which they belonged. I didn’t fit in very well with any particular group, which seems like something said by a lot of people I know. Maybe I still travel in those circles of people that just don’t fit in anywhere particular.

Are there any accounts of people who were admittedly popular kids? Whatever happened to those people?

I recall certain people from my highschool classes. One popular guy who got accepted to Duke - After his acceptance, he didn’t speak to anyone who was accepted to an inferior school. A popular girl in my senior Physics class asked where I was going to college, and ridiculed the slogan saying, “How can you go to a school with a slogan, ‘Pitt is it’?” Are these the kind of people that went to camp?

My Spanish class was mostly made up of popular people. Thinking about it now, what other language can you barely study and still do well? The kids that sat near me would talk about their weekend parties at their friends’ house. Music, no parents, beer. Is this what they did instead of camping?

Certainly I don’t want my kids going off on raging beer parties in their early teens. I also don’t want them to miss out on the camping experience. I don’t want them to miss any healthy experience, really. I suppose that worrying about their social status isn’t going to do me any good. I just don’t want to be the dad that makes them appear uncool to their friends by convincing them to like things that cool kids don’t think is cool. Is camping cool?