published in Life Balance, Relationships, Travel by Maryanne | July 30, 2014

Camp Pope 2014 group photo

Surviving Camp Pope


 “Laughter is like the human body wagging its tail.”

– Anne Wilson Schaef, Mediations for Women Who Do Too Much

Five days, seven kids, one bathroom…and one clearly crazy Auntie (that would be me). But I survived Camp Pope 2014! And I am pleased and proud to report that all children are now safely back with their respective parents in their respective homes that I can pretty much guarantee are far cleaner and tidier (but noisier) than mine at the moment.

My house isn’t just messy; it looks like a bomb went off. Two days later and I’m just starting to make a dent in the laundry and dirty dishes. Despite my best efforts, however, the water in my hot tub is still a suspicious shade of grey 🙁

But that water is replaceable. Time is not. Experiences are not. Memories are not.

As such, did we have fun? Yes!

Did we laugh lots? Yes!

Did we see new and interesting things (versus swimming in the local pool every day like we did last summer)? Yes!

Did we get lost? Yes!

Did we eat well? Yes!

Were there moments when I’d had ENOUGH? Yes!

Did we all get along? No!

But Hollywood hit the nail on the head on this one for me. One evening, we all walked down to the local Star Cinema theatre to watch a movie. The younger kids watched Planes, Fire & Rescue while the older ones and I watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar – the calm, cool and collected leader of the apes (unlike myself) – had several sage words of wisdom to offer:

Ape not kill ape. Check.

Family fight but stick together. Check.

Apes will not follow weak leader. Uh oh.

The movie ended with an extreme close-up of Caesar’s eyes. 11 year-old Zach, sitting beside me, turned and said, “Gee…he looks an awful lot like a human.”

“That,” I said, “is the point of the movie!”

Here are some pics from the week:

food for Camp Pope


Camp Pope gang eating sandwiches at East Sooke

Picnic lunch at East Sooke Park


Jumping into ocean




Nicholas in wagon on hike due to broken flip flop

Nicholas and Ella roasting marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows over stove due to campfire ban

Paige & Zach on ferry

On the ferry to Sidney Spit

So would I host Camp Pope again? Well, let’s put it this way: Camp Pope is rather like traveling in India. My friend Jackie and I traveled through India eleven years ago and it was…an adventure. When I got back home to Canada again, I had zero interest in ever returning for a second round. But time has a funny way of softening the harsh reality of an experience and before you know it, the good memories far outweigh the bad.

I can already feel that happening with Camp Pope…the whining, complaining, bickering, kicking, punching, slapping and biting memories are already starting to fade (as is the cut on my foot from when I stepped on a piece of sea glass someone dropped in my back yard and failed to tell me).

And the fun memories of all the laughter and goofy moments (like when 6 year-old Ella gave us – and all the other people on the ferry – an impromptu show of her pole-dancing capabilities after which 7 year-old Nicholas announced loudly: “MY CROTCH IS FROZEN”) are finding their way to the surface…rather like the pod of whales we saw breaching off the coast of East Sooke Park. That memory alone – for all of us – made Camp Pope well worth it.

On the last day, we gave each other honorary camp awards:

Most Stinky: me (who has time to shower with all that swimming, cooking & cleaning?)

Most Bossy: Taylor

Most Sassy: Alyssa

Most Likely to Get Lost: Paige

Most Likely to Become a Pickpocketing Pole-Dancer (just kidding!): Ella

Most Whiny: Nicholas

Most Attitude: Zach

Most Zen: Holly

Most Well Behaved: Jade (the dog)

And that, dear readers, is why I tend to prefer pets to children 🙂

Nicholas asleep

Nicholas down for the count

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Maryanne also writes screenplays and play scripts, including the play, Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.


  1. Pamela on July 30th, 2014 at 3:43 pm:

    I just loved reading this synopsis of Camp Pope! You are one amazing Auntie and deserve a medal. They are so lucky to have you in there lives….what a fabulous role model.

    I agree about pets vs kids. Pets get my vote.

  2. Esther on July 30th, 2014 at 3:55 pm:

    Good for you Ma! That’s an endurance test to say the least! Personally, I’d rather do hot yoga twice a week but hey, we all have our own ways of challenging ourselves.

  3. Maryanne on July 30th, 2014 at 4:15 pm:

    Hahahaha…no kidding! Hot yoga is sounding pretty good, right about now 🙂

  4. Maryanne on July 30th, 2014 at 4:16 pm:

    Hi Pamela! Well, HOPEFULLY I was a good role model – and not some crazed, screaming mad-woman. My voice was rather hoarse near the end…but I think that was mostly from all of us hooting and hollering when swimming!

  5. Pete on July 30th, 2014 at 4:32 pm:

    I’m so happy that the kids get the opportunity to hang out with you and the rest of the clan. What memories and friendship they will have forever. The three yahoos!! Have not stopped talking about their experience they had. Thanks again for having them it means a lot to us.


  6. Deborah on July 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm:

    Loved it! I could picture it too with your descriptions. Better you than me, girl. Love all the memories you’re collecting.

  7. Maryanne on July 30th, 2014 at 4:53 pm:

    It was a hoot!!

  8. Maryanne on July 30th, 2014 at 4:53 pm:

    We had a blast! It was totally crazy at times but being all together means the world to all of us, Petey 🙂

  9. Joyce vD George on July 30th, 2014 at 5:54 pm:

    I am wondering if you got my first comment?
    I am not sure I sent it.

  10. Sarah on July 31st, 2014 at 3:08 am:

    Oh Maryanne, you’re so very brave and adventurous! I loved the impromptu pole dancing image and dialogue that went with it. The sounds of fighting, whining, bickering, complaining are all too vivid and funny! What a wonderful experience for the kids. And like India for you, maybe time will heal? Every kid should be so fortunate to have you in their life.

  11. Shan on August 12th, 2014 at 2:18 pm:

    You’re an absolute scream MA! Thanks for all the laughs this blog provided and for making the effort with Camp Pope. You will never know how much every single participant will ultimately gain from this experience and i really hope you do it again — perhaps with an assistant next time? 🙂

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