Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winter Camp for Seniors

I've often wondered why it is that snowbirds head south to the same location year after year. It's not that these people don't have a sense of adventure; after all, it takes courage to drive a 45-foot motor coach or tow a 39-foot trailer thousands of miles, especially if Mexico is your destination. Yesterday, as I welcomed two returning snowbird couples back to the park, it dawned on me that this experience is like being a kid and going to summer camp, a place where you caught up with friends from other parts of the city, state or country; a place where you romped in the sun, camped out, did arts and crafts. That is the snowbird experience.

Even though the snowbirds are camping in campers that have all the luxuries of home (and in some instances are their homes), they're still camping. They're enjoying the sun and the outdoors unlike their friends in Minnesota or Oregon. They're doing arts and crafts; the women bead, sew, work in the glass house on stained glass projects. The men read, play poker, fish, and when they're especially bored yearn for a system malfunction on someone's rig. (I'm waiting for the right moment to spring my leaking toilet on a couple of them.) Instead of nightly campfires, the snowbirds sit in a circle for nightly happy hours. They have beanbag tossing championships.

The difference is that unlike summer camp kids, these winter camp seniors don't have a lot of new stories to tell or experiences to relate. No stories of school or groundings or boyfriends. Here's how it works at senior camp: the new people arrive, join happy hour, and update the group on the surgeries they had over the preceeding six months. Once that's out of the way, we're back to the same old same old stories, usually from the men holding court. The women politely feign interest. Wives laugh at jokes they've heard a hundred times. Some roll their eyes. Finally last year the women began breaking off into their own groups which I thought was a great idea. I think we have much more interesting stories to tell.

Things will be different this year. The Canadians have chosen not to return for one reason or another - dirt, dogs, Mexico travel advisories. "Our" Canadians are heading to an RV park in Yuma where they will still have that summer camp experience only without the water and that pesky language barrier. This year some people have moved on - and I mean MOVED ON. This year some women from Bisbee will be coming down on the occasional weekend so we'll have an infusion of progressive blood.

So the migration south has started. Let camp begin.

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