Archive for Monday, July 25, 2011


River City Jules: Exploring the deep end of Scout camp

July 25, 2011


Guess whose husband was not able to attend Webelos Camp again this year? I’ll give you a hint: She has flat feet, allergies and a strong preference for sleeping in her own bed.

Honestly, though, I am OK with it, as I have unfinished business to tend to.

Last year I found that to be allowed to swim in the deep end of the pool, one must pass a swimming test. It isn’t that I don’t know how to swim. I can cross a pool just fine and never even get my hair wet. But it quickly became evident that there is a tremendous difference between knowing how to swim and being able to pass the Cub Scout Swim Test.

Last year I chose to cool off in the non-swimmer wading pool during our allotted swim times with the other moms and a handful of boys, all of us forced to wear the white wristband of land-loving shame.

But this year would be different. This year I would finally complete that level 3 aqua training I abandoned at age 11.

And I wasn’t going to swim in the deep waters alone, for my son and I would take a refresher course together as a sort of pre-camp bonding.

Luke went first. He dove headfirst into the water and free-styled across the pool in record time.

“Looks good,” our instructor, a lovely college-aged gal, observed.

“Thanks,” Luke replied, crossing the pool again.

She turned to me, at this point assuming these would be the easiest swim lessons ever conducted. She was wrong.

I began my forward crawl, one of the three camp-approved front strokes. While my breathing was steady and kicking was strong, my aging shoulders cracked and popped all the way down the pool as if someone had replaced the ball and socket with Tinker Toys.

“This isn’t going to work,” I said, doggie-paddling back to the shallow end. “My shoulders can’t move like that anymore. What else do you have?”

She looked through the list. “How about the breaststroke?”

I spent the next two days holding onto a kickboard, swallowing water despite my best efforts while this poor girl circled my ankles like an amphibian, likely wondering where my mother went wrong in not insisting her daughter learn to swim 30 years earlier.

My dreams of that all-pool-access blue wristband literally sinking, she offered one last shot. “Have you ever tried the sidestroke?”

It turns out the sidestroke can be done without raising one’s creaking left shoulder over one’s head. One can even do the sidestroke without removing one’s sunglasses. The only thing that could make the camp-approved sidestroke any better would be a Scoutmaster (resembling George Clooney) handing out mojitos to moms at the finish line.

But I think that’s a different camp.

Hopefully by the time you are reading this I will be sporting that elusive blue wristband, keeping cool in the deep side and counting the hours until I return to my own bed.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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