27 July 2011

I Never Went to Summer Camp

For the last four months, we've been camping. Well, that's not entirely true. Just about fifty percent of our nights have been spent in a tent. So, we've seen a fair share of campgrounds. Some of them reminded us of gated communities, others skewed toward retirement homes, all were perfectly lovely. But Camp Danica nearby to Lake Bohinj felt like summer camp - and since I never went to summer camp, it was a particular thrill.
There was a whole program of entertainment. Mondays were "Circus Workshop," where kids (and adults who pleased) could try their hand at juggling, stilt-walking, etc. Tuesdays brought a magic show with special guest assistant "Bear." Slovenians really do like bears. Wednesdays encouraged folk dancing, Thursdays were campfire stories, and so on and so forth. While there were a number of younger children there with their parents, the majority of the minor population consisted of scouts. All at once, over two dozen teenage boys and girls arrived in a bus that specified "Scouts" sans gender. At the dishwashing station, we heard two boys chastise another for forgetting his "necker" - - that's when we realized the troop was British.
An older contingent all seemed to be there to climb Mount Triglav, which popped out dramatically now and then in the grey, foggy scenery. The weather was mostly bleak, very cold and often rainy, but people remained in good spirits. So close to the Julian Alps and Slovenia's highest peak (Triglav), the campsite attracts a lot of guests that are using it as a jumping off point. The morning that we left, a handful of older men surveyed the paragliding conditions. In the evenings, campers about our age filled 'Allo 'Allo, the campsite pub. Never have I been in a bar where a customer asks for the remote control to turn the volume up on a nature documentary. The footage showed Slovenians climbing K2 and the viewers were captivated. Never, either, have I been at a bar where headlamps were the "it" accessory. I took mine off to be more civil only to find myself feeling like the only girl at the sleepover without pierced ears.
Where all this turns particularly Slovenian is the presence of the campground chickens. There were three of them, spotted when we first arrived and bid farewell when we left three days later. At first, we thought they belonged to the French family whose camper they lingered around most. "Oh, how French. They brought chickens so that they'd have fresh eggs!" I quipped. The family left and the birds remained. We still are partial to believing they were the property of a camper, but it's very possible that they were simply campground chickens. Hey, why not?
Luckily, you didn't need to chase the birdies around for fresh eggs. Parked near reception each morning was a bakery van. It sold bread, eggs and honey liquor. We only felt the first two were necessary for a well-balanced breakfast. Just one block away was the milk automat Merlin's already mentioned. Only in Slovenia would you feel like you were inside the pages of a Patagonia catalog, volunteering at a day care and vacationing on a farm at the same time - all on a campsite.

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