Mom Packs, Teen Travels

Class of 2014

Chicago Waldorf Class of 2014:  Awww, aren’t they cute 😀

Mom Packs, Teen Travels: Cole and his 12th-grade classmates left on Saturday for a one-week camping trip on Hermit Island in Maine. They will spend the week studying marine biology during the day and eating fresh lobsters at night. I would like to think that at least one of the kids will cringe when they drop the lobster in the pot, but I’m quite sure my son will yell “YES!” and bless that lobster with Yum! and garlic butter.

The Chicago Waldorf School trips start in the 2nd grade with an overnight, move on to ropes courses, cave explorations (bats included), white-water rapids, mountain climbing, homestead building, and farming—just to name a few—and by 12th grade, they are ready to swim the Atlantic, explore swirl pools, mud flats, and sketch the scenic surroundings.

The mothers are left behind, lobsterless, worrying that they’ve packed the right gear in the allowed soft duffle bag. The good news about this trip is that we won’t hear from the travelers until they return next Saturday—no cell service on the island and, potentially, wet, muddy tent conditions convinced most of them to leave there electronics at home. Why is this good news? Because there is little worse than your kid calling to telling you that you didn’t pack enough socks on the second day of the trip when you are miles away from being able to fix the problem. Check out the number of Google searches for “kids camping with wet feet and soggy socks for four days” and know that a sleepless mom was behind every one of them. If, dear reader, you are wondering if our kids aren’t old enough to pack their own gear, the answer is an easy no. I know that your parents sent you to school without so much as a water bottle in 90 degree weather, walking uphill both ways, but I bet they always made sure your feet were dry.

The gear list is sent home two weeks before the trip and is usually well thought out and straight forward. However, there is no way all the stuff on the list can be packed into one soft duffle bag, so you have to look at the list and decide if you want your kid to be warm or cold. Cole has always preferred cold, so I add fewer pairs of pants and an extra pair of shorts. Rain gear is always on the list, highlighted in bold. Cole’s rain gear is a hefty garbage bag that can double as a poncho. My kid will never don premeditated duck rain gear; he might, on impulsive, rip open a very large, hefty garbage bag and cut it into a poncho. Socks, I pack lots and lots of socks.

This year, shopping for camping supplies, I discovered Men’s Give-N-Go underwear. A single pair of these undies can take a man into the wilderness for up to six weeks.

Give and go boxer briefs

The special material is quick drying and controls odor-causing bacteria. They save valuable space (after all, underwear is a real space hog). The motto of the company is Pack Less. Do More. This was all explained to me by the earnest 20-something salesperson that I gave my full, undivided attention to. Since he wears his Give-N-Gos all the time, he even snapped his waist band to show me how the elastic has held up for over a year. You want to know, don’t you?  I asked. He washes them every few days, or, at least, that was his story. I bought a pair of Give-N-Gos; he had me at the waist band snapping. But before I left the store, I threw one final objection at him: “If I send my kid into the wild with one pair of undies, what if he loses them?” Quick as a wink, he smiled and said, “Shall I ring up another pair.”  I love a good salesperson. However, I still packed one pair of underwear for each day of Cole’s trip. I didn’t want to have my imagination run away from me on a sleepless night and have to Google “boy camping in the wild without underwear.” I’m sure the biggest marketing problem the one pair, six-week Give-N-Go underwear faces is moms. Next item on the gear list—water-repellant towel.


Some of you may have read about my angst over searching for a water-repellant towel for the trip. I was smiled at compassionately by more than a few store employees as they tried to understand my request for a bath towel that was non-absorbent. I appreciated everyone’s suggestions, humor, and help in overcoming this packing hurdle. However, next time, skip to the chase and suggest a gear list typo. Does quick-dry towel make more sense? I know who typed the gear list, and I hope I’m around when she is a mom. Problem solved. Thank you for caring.

On Friday night, I agreed to hop up bright and early to deliver two boys along with my own to the airport at 6:00 a.m. As the boys slept over, I insisted they all put their stuff in my van the night before and admonished them to get a good night’s sleep since the van was pulling out of the garage at 5:30 a.m. At 2:00 a.m. they were popping corn. I went back to sleep until my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. When I woke up with a jolt and saw the time, I realized that I had set my alarm for the usual wake up time and started screaming, “Get up! Hurry, hurry! Let’s go! We are late, late, late,” while the boys slowly (and I do mean slowly) made their way to the van. Once settled in the van, while I was still catching my breath, the conversation went like this:

Cole: Mom, why did you set your alarm for 5:30 a.m. when you knew we had to leave by 5:30 a.m.

Me: It was a mistake, but didn’t you all set your alarms? (Three cell phones, three alarms.)

Cole: Did you tell us to? (other boys nod in agreement)

I sighed with contentment and shared with the other mothers, “Our teens aren’t ready to be released into the wild … they still need us. THEY REALLY NEED US.”


18 thoughts on “Mom Packs, Teen Travels

  1. I haven’t had to do the overnight camp pack; i have a hard time packing my kids up for day camp. Love how you keep your sense of humor. Keep us posted on the underwear!

  2. A typo? Oh well, glad you found everything Cole needed for the trip. I haven’t had to pack my kids off either other than to grandparents. The one bag rule would be so hard. Funny about the underwear. Love the salesmen pitch.
    Good to know we remain needed for a long time. Hope Cole has a great time.

    • A typo, of-course I should have figured it out, but still listing fast drying would have simplified things!
      The one bag rule gets easier over the years. You realize how hard it is for them to keep track of stuff and how much of it is left behind or has to be thrown out.

    • The companies name is ExOfficio.They make a women’s line, too. Very popular for runners and bikers. While they can and are advertised: One pair of underwear, 17 countries, 6 weeks. I pretty sure most people take at list two pairs. 😀

  3. The underwear thing would gross me out—how on earth could one pair be used day after day after day after day after day? Gross. I think guys are wayyyyy different than us girls in that department.
    I know you packed him well–thank goodness for moms!

    • Thanks goodness for moms! Of-course there was the alarm clock failure. The underwear is meant to washed out everyday and dries in under an hour. And if they don’t wash it the fabric is self cleaning so to speak. Like I said, IMO moms is the products biggest obstacle. They have a women’s line, too. Could be very comfortable for fly fishing excursions.

  4. Still laughing at your last statement — you’re sooo right, they’re NOT ready to be released into the wild!
    Glad you found everything on your list (and made room to pack it all). Must be exhilarating for a kid to step away from home in “baby steps,” rather than just reaching a certain magical age and being tossed unceremoniously to the curb, ha!
    Enjoy the quiet and try not to worry!

    • Good point about the school excursions. My admiration goes out to the kids trip advisors….. can you imagine being one of the advisors (two travel with out class) out on an island camping in tents, in all sorts of weather, with fourteen 17 year olds for a week; responsible for there overall wellbeing, as well as there learning experience. Color me happy to be home. I worried more in the early days. I noticed this time at our pre-trip briefing not one of us ask about an island evacuation plan.. Far cry from 2nd grade when we worried if they did not have their special cereal they would starve. They aren’t little and cute anymore, I guess. 😀

  5. The underwear sounds useful & convenient! It’s similar to the cool max material of running clothes. This stuff is made for washing out after each use when away from the washing machine. Good stuff! I think your boy will do fine.
    I could have mailed Cole Nik’s pink towel with a bone on it if not for the typo!

    • I have to admit I was intrigued. They have a women’s line. I read it was great for bikers and runners.
      Nik wouldn’t have minded boy germs?

  6. Some day Katybeth should blog about her camping trip!
    After months of brow beating me I finally caved and said she could go to girl scout camp. I felt in my heart it was a big mistake but she was so happy, I didn’t have the courage to tell her that. OMG what a mistake, a huge bigger than life mistake, which she STILL beats me up about.

    • I did not really understand going to camp meant leaving my mother behind. I did not understand I would have to share a tent with strangers, manage my hair, clothes, teeth, and meals. I did not know I would be sleeping on scratchy sheets that were not ironed. Had I know these things, I would never have wanted or agreed to two weeks of torture. I’ve forgiven you tho. I’m a mother now, I understand. Kind of. In a twisted sort of way.

    • Me too. Hated it and Cole never asked to go–the school trips fulfilled those needs and they are a lot more fun. Very few rules, lots of trust, and hands on experience.

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