Camp Mama: Vive La France!

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


This week was crazy. My middle son had Cub Camp all week, which is enough to wear out anyone and their family, but since our district organizes a twilight camp (afternoon-evening) I figured I could still get away with Camp Mama during the day. In addition to Cub Camp and Camp Mama, some friends we hadn’t seen since we left Los Angeles were in town on Thursday, further abbreviating our week, yet somehow we still packed a pretty full Camp Mama.

I had originally scheduled France for this week because I didn’t think I had a lot to do. That is only because I didn’t take the time to think about it. In the end I was sorry I picked such a busy week because there was so much left undone. We packed as much fun as we could into the week and I can be happy with that.

Monday: Paris Fashion Week
Another family joined us for part of this week and on Monday we were three families with 8 boys and 1 girl in ages from 4 to 11, plus my baby.
Part One: One of the other mothers is a legitimate fashion designer (of Georgiewear fame…) and started our morning with a little history of French fashion from Marie Antoinette et al. to the fashion houses of today. The kids had a great time boo-ing all the costumes they saw but she didn’t skip a beat and reminded them that even the clothing they were wearing that day showed that they had used apparel to express themselves.
Part Two: We followed with watching a short video of a runway show, a modern one of a men’s wear line to connect with our mostly-male audience. Again, they were unimpressed and acted as though all of this was ridiculous.

Our models/designers definitely have their own unique styles ranging from hobo-chic to desert cool.

Part Three: All this was to lead up to our main activity of the day, which was our own fashion house. Armed with fabric scraps and things from our recycling bins, each kid created their own piece of haute couture and we had them walk down the stairs and catwalk through the living room one at a time. No one was complaining about fashion being boring any more. Each child’s design was unique and inventive. I would do this over again. It was hilarious! The only thing I would change is the background music. I had cued up Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie, a beautiful piece of French minimalism and it was completely overpowered by the laughter and all-round boisterousness of our models and audience.
We capped the activities with nutella and strawberry crepes, devoured before anyone thought to take a photo, and split to get ready for the second camp of the day.

Tuesday: Painting in the Park

These young artists found inspiration and peace in the park.
These young artists found inspiration and peace in the park.

Inspired by the French Impressionists of the early 20th century we took our watercolours to the park in the morning before the midday heat chased us indoors. We talked briefly about impressionism, the strokes, the subject matter, and even that these artists did much of their work out of doors in gardens and parks, appreciating the social aspect and using nature as their muses. It was so peaceful. I wished I could have pulled out a sheet and joined them. (Alas, motherhood sometimes means facilitating and standing back.) I also read some French-language picture books to the kids. My high school diploma says I’m fluent in French, even though I’m a little rusty the kids didn’t know better.
We had quiche for lunch, based on this recipe I have used for years, but modified based on what I had in my fridge: provolone cheese, bacon, and broccoli were the fillings this time. This quiche is good hot or cold.

Wednesday: Road Trip!

Paris, Texas, y'all. It's for real.
Paris, Texas, y’all. It’s for real.

Wednesday morning we made the two-hour trek to Paris, Texas to finally see the Eiffel Tower mini replica there. With the right attitude and a good audiobook, and the best travel companions of course, it was worth the drive! We were so excited we even got dressed up, after all, it isn’t every day you get to see the Eiffel Tower. For all of us it was our first time. My older boys wore their authentic French Navy shirts their grandparents had picked up for them last year, paired with their cowboy boots and hats.
When we were done we drove to Sulfur Springs to the Southwest Dairy Museum. Cheese is such an important part of French cuisine and culture so this was a great way to add in a little learning to the day. The museum is small but very well organized and full of antique dairy equipment and supplies. There were interactive kiosks and illustrative dioramas. Of course to the back of the museum, at The Creamery, we had to get ice cream cones. This is what makes memories.
We lunched on croissants, Baby Bel cheeses, and some fresh fruits and veggies.

Thursday: Friends Day
We took a break from Camp Mama to play with our friends. The plan had been an architecture day and recap of the previous day wherein the boys used Lego or other building materials to recreate the Eiffel Tower and test it’s durability.

Friday: Tour de France
We had a birthday part to attend mid day, so we talked about the Tour de France and then I had the boys ride their bikes to the party.

The Morning Routine:
As is the plan for the whole summer, my boys have things they must do each morning. In addition to things like making their beds and brushing their teeth they need to read for at least 20 minutes, write a page, practice their Italian on duolingo, and do a little prodigy math. Reading selections are up to them but each Saturday we pick up new books from the library on the topic for the coming week. Some of the books they selected this week included a TinTin book (I concluded that while the author was technically Belge, he was a French-speaking Belgian and even though they were reading English translations it was French-related enough in my opinion,) The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Odette’s Secret, and The Little Prince. There was a bio of Joan of Arc tossed in, too. We maintain this routine every weekday morning unless we are leaving the house early, as in the case of Wednesday when we had so much driving to do and be home before 2 p.m.

What we didn’t do:
I wanted to play Bocce (called petanque in France) but didn’t even have the time to find a friend from whom we could borrow a set. Anyway, it’s summer in Texas and we had plenty of swelter-in-the-sun time as it was. I have it on good authority that pick up sticks is huge with the kids over there (in Annecy anyway) right now, they call it mikodo, so I picked up a set that we haven’t even opened yet. There was so much food we didn’t get to make because of time and temperature. A film festival would have been fun, too. And another one if I didn’t have such a heat aversion: soccer, naturally. The Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth had a France-themed festival on Saturday, perfectly timed for our France week, but our family was unable to make it to that.

I’m definitely going to revisit French week. What would you add if you were doing it?


Previous Camp Mama theme: Greek Week


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