This isn’t a real post.  It’s just a quick update on Hailey because my grandparents complain that the cats get more play on this blog than my nine-year-old.  And they have a point.  This one’s for you, granny.

I’ve been a bit MIA because Hailey was at sleep-away camp and I spent each evening rocking in a fetal position while every slasher film I’ve ever seen ran through my mind.  At the end of the week, however, we drove up with the grandparents and found Hailey, alive, filthy, overjoyed and ready to show off the horseback riding skills she’d picked up at the ranch.  I was a bit nervous because Hailey takes after me when it comes to grace and she’d already good-naturedly accepted an award for (no shit) “MOST PRONE TO FALLING OFF THINGS.”

This camp was already old when Victor went there himself 30 years ago and apparently few things have changed.  It’s basically one of those camps where the kids sort of learn to fend for themselves and recover from helicopter-parents by hurting themselves a lot in the same stupid ways we did when we were kids with no real boundaries.

Hailey on a tractor made entirely from tetanus.
Hailey on a tractor made entirely from tetanus.

A few highlights from camp…

Things said by the adorable and very young counselors when they were discussing how the activities had gone:

Yoga:  “None of us had ever done yoga before so we let the kids teach us how to do roundoffs instead.  Later we found a yoga book in the van.”

Candy-making:  “We couldn’t find any supplies for candy-making so instead we just walked the kids to the store and bought them popsicles.  One day we tried to make some candy but it wasn’t cooking fast enough so we turned the oven up to 500 degrees and that didn’t work out at all.  On competition day we broke a chocolate bar into pieces to see who could spit their piece of chocolate the furthest.”

Movie-making: “I just basically turned on the camera and let them do what they wanted.”  Then they showed the movie.  It was 10 minutes of screaming girls tracking a panther by tasting the urine it was spraying out all over the place.

Skits:  We actually got to watch the skits and they were fascinating.  My favorite line was by Hailey’s nine-year-old cabin-mate who was giving helpful advice to a young girl who was pining for her lost summer camp puppy-love:  “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS.  THIS IS CAMP.  GET TOUGH OR DIE.”  

Hailey told us about her horse (The Professor) whom she loved even though she’d originally been assigned to another horse.  When I asked why she’d switched to The Professor she told me, “It started raining and two of his shoes fell off so I had to use another horse.”  I don’t even know what to say about this.

In the end we sat in the bleachers to watch the camp rodeo and the horses all seemed lovely and healthy, and I nervously tightened Hailey’s riding helmet to help with the inevitable fall she’d probably take while barrel-racing.

I've never had that much confidence in my life.  It must skip a generation.
I’ve never had that much confidence in my life. It must skip a generation.

But she didn’t fall.

Hailey and The Professor.

She won.


And this is her at the exact moment that she found out she’d gotten the fastest time in her division:


It’s also the same moment she begged to be able to come back again every summer for the rest of her life.

I couldn’t say no to that look of glee, even though I might not survive the worry.  But I just took a deep breath and nodded and reminded myself of some good advice I’d recently heard.  “For Christ’s sake, Lois.  This is camp.  Get tough or die.”

PS.  In these kinds of rodeos you don’t win trophies.  Instead you win belt buckles.  It’s like a trophy you wear over your genitals.  I don’t entirely understand the draw but it’s hard to argue with this face.


272 thoughts on “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Hailey on the tractor looks exactly like you, Jenny! She’s got her mom’s smile! 🙂

  2. Are you sure that’s not you on that tractor? She looks JUST like you!

  3. Prude Ranch?! I dreamed of going there in the 5th grade! I even knew what kind of trunk I wanted from the wally-mart to pack all my things in. I never got to go, though. So glad she got this experience!! I loved reading all of this!

  4. This is wonderful on so many levels. Because, KIDS. OMG they are the thing that keeps me from hurling myself off a mountaintop in despair at all the crap there is in the world.

    Even better than cats. (Thank your mother for me.)

  5. How fun. Is it just me or does that kid with the glasses in that picture look like she’s going to punch Hailey in the back of the head?

  6. I couldn’t believe there was really a place called “Prude Ranch” that gives out genital trophies. So I googled it and found it. I tried clicking on the link, and it just spun. I think all your readers are going to crash their site.

  7. I love every word you write and of all of them, I think I love these words the most!

  8. I read in NPR this morning about a Doctor who is actually prescribing his young patients “park time”. I’m so glad you let Hailey go and “get tough”. It causes us parents much grey hair, but you won’t get the bends when you have to come quickly down from being a “helicopter” parent when they grow up.

    And btw, somewhere in my brother’s house is my grandfather’s spurs and belt buckle from a long ago rodeo. Tell Hailey to wear that one with pride!

  9. From the pictures of Hailey’s t-shirt, I thought she was at the Rude Ranch.summer camp and I wanted to go too

  10. That is awesome! A rodeo Champ! So stinking cool. Did she tell you about the snakes?

  11. Oh my god, that expression says EVERYTHING!!! Super cute pictures of your daughter, totally precious. And yes, I remember camp when I was a kid, always soooo much fun!

  12. Hey, if your kid is going to win a genital cover…this is the one you want her to win. Mom, congrats on surviving…all of it, and I want to know Hailey’s cabinmate when she’s 35 and able to drink, because I suspect that she will be AWESOME.

  13. Our kids are off to camp this week. Time for parents to party like rock stars. Translation: work long hours, then binge on OITNB. Woo…

  14. Kids belong at summer camp! I am so glad that she had a great time & Won!

  15. What a great experience! And wow, Hailey looks just like you on the tractor!

  16. Ah that gives me fond memories of my summers at Slut Ranch… wait no, that was just hanging out with my friends at the beach trying to seduce older men.

  17. The winning face? Gave me the happy tears and she’s not even my kid. Nothing better than seeing someone furiously happy. And agree on the tractor pic – I was advance reading in my head and expected you to say it was where you went as a child, not Victor.

  18. Congratulations to Hailey!!!! And to you for surviving!!!!! (I wondered about those West Texas posts.) Gonna be at Prude Ranch the first week of August for an adult fitness camp. I sure hope it’s all green then, too, and maybe, just maybe, a bit cool.

  19. My son will be returning from camp on Sunday (after being away for a full month. A. FULL MONTH). I CANNOT WAIT to show him this post. I can only hope that he’s had the same superfunhappy experiences/brushes with death.

  20. I laughed- I cried- I’ve decided to pose as a twelve year old and go to camp next summer. Great Job Hailey!

  21. This might be my favorite post. Hailey had a WAY better time at sleepaway camp than I did.

  22. What a fun time! And congratulations on the win, Hailey! Her reaction when she found out that she won is absolutely priceless. I am a little concerned about their teaching methods for other classes, though. LOL

  23. What a beautiful, brave girl! She must get it from her mama. Thanks for a hilarious post – I WILL find an opportunity to use the Lois quote! 😉

  24. I have a misty-eyed proud momma smile…and that momma-bear ache in the pit of my belly. What a perfect post!

  25. Oh, this makes me want to be 9 again. And go away to camp. (Also, that camp counselor looks very cool, but also young.)

    Of course they get buckles. It’s a barrel racing!!! Barrel racing=buckles. (Yeah, that would be my Arizona coming out.)

  26. Congrats to Hailey (and you for surviving the week) – some of my best childhood memories were the summer camps I attended. Her smile says everything.

  27. Yay for a week filled with tetanus tractors, shoe losing horses and belt buckle awards. Lois, you done good.

  28. I could go to adult fitness camp! With Mindy V! Comment 27!

    Blast this injury messing with my life. I want to go to camp. With Mindy V! ::waving at Mindy and hoping she doesn’t think I’m a weird-eo.::

  29. “For Christ’s sake, Lois. This is camp. Get tough or die.” This will forever be a part of my vocab. Love it. Congratulations to your daughter on the win and the genital trophy!

  30. Totally LOVE this! (Not that I don’t love your other posts too – it just makes me furiously happy to see kids that are furiously happy)

  31. My 15 YO just came back from a trip to central europe. I was a mess the whole time she was gone, but she had a blast and seems to have learned a lot. When asked, “What ws the biggest thing you saw? The thing that changed how you understand the world?” She replied, “That other countries exist. Not just in books or in my head, but they are real.” Kids need these experiences to grow away from us. Its good for them. Or so I tell myself, while I am staring at the ceiling imaging every awful movie I ever saw (Hostel, Taken, the list goes on). So, congrats on surviving it!

  32. Congrats to Hailey on winning first place, and congrats to you for not literally worrying yourself to death! Good job to both of you!

  33. Adding myself to the list of ” no kidding I thought that was a picture of you on the tractor”.

  34. That sounds like the best camp ever! Congrats, Hailey – on winning and on surviving camp and helicopter parenting.

  35. What a beautiful daughter. See she survived and more importantly so did you! My daughter is grown, and a music teacher. I sat thru a number of concerts etc. I never breathed when she was playing solo’s. Did you breathe when she was doing the barrels? So glad you have a daughter to love. Makes the parent thing so worth it.

  36. That picture of her with full-on glee made my day! So glad for her (and that you survived – I will be the same way when my daughter goes to camp)!

  37. I went to horse camp when I was 8 years old. My horse’s name was Blue Eye and I didn’t shower for a whole week. It was THE BEST!

  38. Omg I can not stop laughing!!! That is fantastic and I’m happy I read this today (not that I don’t always enjoy) . I will make sure to keep that thought in mind when shit hits the fan in my house.

  39. I love the look on your daughter’s face. It says it all. Love to you and your daughter.

    1. This is too a real post.
    2. Hailey is your mini me with that million-watt smile
    3. I want my own Tetanus Tractor
    4. I don’t have a horse named The Professor but I do have one I call Sabi-noxious.
    5. The pictures of Hailey and the sheer, unadulterated joy on her face are priceless. When I was her age I would have given everything I own or had hopes of ever owning to have done what she just did. Thank you for letting her go even though it was very hard on you. You did her a favor neither of you will fully fathom until she is older.


  40. I just love seeing kids that happy and excited! They haven’t learned how to hide their emotions yet, so you see just the most joy all at once. Love it!

  41. I’m a huge klutz on the ground, on my horse, I’m graceful! (really!)

    All girls should learn to ride horses. Look at it this way, when they becomes teens and some boy is being a jerk they’ll look at him and realize “I can make a half ton creature do what I want, I’m not afraid of YOU.” (Or anyone really). And that’s a good thing. 😉

  42. Congratulations to your Hailey! I love that adorable smile and the look in her eyes when she won!

    My 10-year-old only child just left to camp today. After I stop bawling, I’m off to binge out on bad Chinese food and Netflix. Sigh. It’s going to be a looonnnggg week.

  43. Man, I didn’t get to do any of these things when I went to horseback riding camp as a kid. Chocolate spitting competition? No. Round-off lessons? Nope. Barrel racing? Definitely not.

    I want a re-do!

  44. Your daughter is lovely. Thanks for building a strong young woman with kindness and joy. We need more of this in the world.

  45. So it looks like she got exactly the experience you want her to have at camp, assuming you’re not actually looking for some Parent Trap kind of outcome.

    And she looks like the perfect combination of you and Victor. Congratulations on your DNA-mixing abilities!

  46. When I saw the thumbnail I thought that WAS you on the tractor! My gawd, lady, that is one beautiful, happy, confident little girl. You done good. 🙂

  47. So glad you survived! My 17 yo son has been at a different camp almost every week this summer. And almost every week I get a text with a photo of a new injury and a note that says he’ll have to tell me later what happened. I had to learn that as long as the camp wasn’t calling me to meet them at the hospital, it couldn’t be that bad!

  48. Sounds like more fun than I had throughout my 8 years of summer church camp. Although we did learn some cool songs, like “Nothing could be finer than to integrate a diner, in the morning” (sung to the tune of Nothing Could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning), much to the chagrin of our parents.

  49. Now THAT’S the best!
    The perfect camp, if you ask me.
    I’m smiling so much because Hailey is smiling so much and because you’re smiling so much in your writing.
    “Furiously Happy!”

  50. I swear our daughters are twins. Just replace ‘Hailey’ with Cameron and ‘horse camp’ with acting camp. Your pictures look exactly like mine! And as if to drive home the resemblance in clutziness of our progeny, Cameron just slammed her head into the coffee table while petting the cat. No joke.

  51. I love the last two pics- so expressive! But really- no jokes about Prude Ranch? Not even to Victor? It put me in perma-grin.

  52. Oh my goodness. I may have said this before, but I’ll say it again. I want to be Hailey when I grow up, to have that much confidence and joy.

  53. “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE.” Totally stitching this on a pillow. This is the best post EVER. I loved camp but never won a genital award. Drat.

  54. I love everything about this! She looks so beautiful and happy and confident 🙂 That’s the best.

  55. That advice for Lois has me reconsidering how I might open the school year this Fall. I feel like I’ve missed out on an opportunity to yell at them about getting tough or dying. So, thank Hailey for me, would ya?

  56. “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE.” Excuse me while I go learn how to cross-stitch, I must have this needle-pointed on a pillow ASAP.

  57. In the photo of Hailey (2nd from the bottom) I’m betting that the snake riding on her shoulder is wishing he’d picked a different camper on which to hone his human wrangling skills.

  58. I read this to my 18 year old daughter who said “Poor Lois.” I can’t stop laughing.

  59. Why don’t they have camp for grown ups? A Mom-needs-a-break so I’m leaving you to do all the shit I do and going to camp. Anyone know of one that’s not rehab?

  60. When I was a counselor at a summer camp in Florida the kids were always asking why they had to swim in the pool because they wanted to swim in the big lake that bordered one side of our camp. The only reason given was for insurance liability. One night the camp director took a few of us out in a small boat, on the lake, with a large flashlight. We counted 115 sets of red alligator eyes reflecting back at us that night and we now knew the ‘real’ reason.
    The pool now seemed fabulous and we were sworn to secrecy. It was a great summer.
    Thanks for the happy memory reminder with your wonderful pseudo-post.
    Congrats to Hailey!

  61. Boy, she didn’t inherit any genetic material from YOUR side of the family, did she?! What a cutie!

  62. You’re the only blogger who makes wine shoot out of my nose. I love, love, love your stuff…and now I love your daughter and her furiously happy smile 😉

  63. Hailey is furiously adorable.

    And, Lois won’t let her babies grow up to be cowgirls.

  64. I actually teared up when I read she won! Congratulations Babe! My girls just got back from their week at camp, but don’t have any awards to show for it. The do seem a lot closer than their 6 year difference would lead you to think they should be. I’m glad Hailey had such an awesome time, and I’m thrilled that you were able to let her have it (I was right there with you in the fetal position last week too)! Here’s to all the Daughters (and their Moms) getting a little stronger this summer!

  65. This entire post makes me want to be a kid again so I can go to horse camp for just one more summer. You are a brilliant, brave mom to let your daughter soar on her own.

  66. Definitely my new go-to expression. “For Christ’s Sake Lois….this is camp….get tough or die!” LOVE IT!

  67. There is nothing I don’t like about this. Nothing. I’m proud of you for letting miss Hailey do her thing and super happy that she had so much fun falling off stuff. Over the top girls, no one lives forever!!!

  68. One year when my kids were at camp, the phone rang at 1130pm. When I picked up, I could hear something loud and then a hang up. Caller ID said it came from the camp. Every episode of Halloween went through my head in the 45 minutes it took for the guard who answered the phone to track down my kids and let me know they were in fact OK and not trapped in the kitchen by a machete-wielding psycho as I was imagining. I don’t think I slept at all that night.

  69. I went to a dude ranch about two years ago and rode horses – my ass still hurts! Hailey is beautiful and I love the picture of her and the tetanus tractor.

  70. I love this. I just dropped my eleven year old off at camp this last weekend. It’s her third year and it’s the camp I went to and worked at combined for about 14 years, so I know that it is probably the happiest that she is all year round. And I can still only handle a week and then I have to go cook in the kitchen, not just because of the cost, but because a week away from her knowing what I know is as much as I can handle. On the drive down she started talking about being a counselor and I tried to stay very neutral, “You know that means you’d be away all summer, right? 7.5 hours drive away for 9 weeks? [Are you trying to kill me?!?]” I wanted to work at camp because I wanted away from my family all summer long and it was the most fun I could have while pulling that off. Hopefully she’ll just want to because she loves it so much. Because she does. It’s worth all the effort and worry to see her that happy.

  71. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I just dropped my girl at her first sleep away camp last night. Then I came home, and instead of simply having previously-watched horror films run through my head like a normal mom (yes, Jenny, you are my normal mom template), I made the terrible decision to watch a DOCUMENTARY about the Petit murders. So thank you.

  72. What a beautiful daughter! I have a 9 year old granddaughter and she would be equally as delighted. Your blog is hysterical…love the “tractor made entirely of tetanus”! Thanks for making me laugh…when somedays work makes laughing not so easy!!!

  73. That camp sounds fantastic! I don’t think I would have handled the separation well either, but seeing your kid happy is worth all the stress!

  74. Horse camp was THE BEST time of my life as a teenager. I broke a tooth, ripped my thigh muscle off the bone, head butted several jumps, got trampled by a horse (twice – same jump, same horse, 6-months apart, which resulted in my now merry-dislocating-hips), got scared out of my brains the first time I galloped one of the horses (who had decided he was King of the Castle, not the group leader’s horse and so they fought for the title of Champion of the World). I was 14/15 and I look back on those filthy dirty, grimy, smelly, fly-covered, horse-shit smeared days with the greatest of fondness….. I saw The Lost Boys at Camp, and had my first nightmare about vampires. I also overdosed on sugar because the camp dog ate the camp roast one night, and the only food left was in the canteen. God I loved that time!!!!! Hailey will be fine, she will thrive. Just overdose on your meds while she is away. 🙂

  75. Good for her! And congrats to you for surviving her first summer camp! Your fans are proud of both of you. 🙂

  76. Loved this! I loved Hailey’s glowing face full of joy! I went to camp one summer and it was fun, but the Prude Ranch sounds like it was great. Congratulations Hailey!

  77. What a wonderful post! And many congratulations on the barrel racing win. I never got to race in a real competition, but I used to run my poor old pony around the barrels in the pasture; in my mind I was a winner, so well done, Hailey!!!!!

  78. Thank god she got the tetanus tractor instead of the rabies one.

  79. This is Camp. GET TOUGH OR DIE. Oh my goodness, if that doesn’t become the new camp slogan, I don’t know what to make of this world.

  80. so cute. that is a face full of happiness!!

  81. I was just about to write and ask you if she was at Prude Ranch and then I saw the belt buckle. I went there when I was 11. The rodeo was the best, although I loved going on the “cattle drive” and sleeping on the “open range”, too.

    But I really wanted to tell you, the Lois line has to be the best camp skit line, ever.

  82. This IS a real post, and it is AWESOME! I wanted to jump up and down and shout and be furiously happy when I saw those pictures, but we’re having thunderstorms and my dogs are scared enough already.
    I like belt buckles, you don’t have to dust them or wrap them in three tins of bubble wrap if packing for a move.

  83. As well, I am sure the symbolism of having “Prude Ranch Champion” over Hailey’s genitals must give you some degree of comfort.

  84. I really enjoyed your entry about your daughter! I was so entertaining!

  85. You made me google Prude Ranch, I think it’s good that is the name of the people that own it, unless they changed their name to that on purpose…I am overthinking this obviously.

    Congratulations on winning the barrel racing Haley!!!!! And for not falling off! And to you Jenny for letting her go 🙂

  86. So, I don’t know you, will never meet you, have nothing vested in the happiness or lack thereof in any of your family members….but I’ll be darned if the photo of Hailey’s “I won??!?!!!” face didn’t make me tear up a little. And I do not cry easily. That? That was a face that can move people. You did well to let her go and encourage her even though it probably scared the pee out of you. Good for you – you’re raising a strong citizen, there.

  87. I have the same feelings sending my son to camp…both before and after. Thanks for summarizing real life so very well – again. Congrats to your beautiful girl!

  88. I’ve had a really crappy day, full of anxiety and wanting to ignore phone calls from irate, irrational people. I needed that reminder today and I think I’m going to vinyl it on my office wall.

  89. I sent my city slicker there a few years ago and he came home having learned to ride a horse AND two step, but in the end, he said he preferred the Jewish sleep away camp we send him to every year. But he got a freakin belt buckle AND learned how to lasso! How many Jewish boys can say that?

  90. That is awesome. Sorry for your worries but. . . that is awesome. That’s all that I have. . .

  91. We’re considering diabetes camp next year for our son. I’m sure my kid will have great stories to share, huge smiles and I will be sitting in the corner eating my hair the whole time he’s away. PS- Hailey is so dang cute!

  92. My dad had that tractor when I was a kid! 1949 International Harvester Farmall. He had the Cub too which I learned to drive on. His wasn’t that rusty though and had a canning jar over the smokestack. They show up in parades a lot now days.

    P.S. Your kid had the time of your life – love the pictures – cheered me up!

  93. I’miss going for the obvious here, but for some reason, I feel like a prize chastity belt should have been awarded at PRUDE Dude Ranch. Also, they were riding horses. ..wait. Nevermind.

    Anyhoot, how awesome for Hailey! I never really enjoyed camp as a kid (mostly cos I was a tomboy who already LIVED in the woods and camped out with my neighbor regularly), but it’s gotta be great fun for most kids, and she obviously enjoyed it (or, at least, enjoyed lording her win over the other kids).

  94. I’ve said it before, but something about Hailey just touches my heart (in a totally non-kidnapper way)!!! And she is the very picture of YOU!

    I also want desperately for ‘For Christ’s sake, Lois….” to be on a T-Shirt! Maybe there could be a picture of a tent and a horsie on it??? It just cracks me up!

    If someone wants to do a Bloggess Tribe week at a camp of some kind, I’m totally IN. I’d love to meet all of you!

  95. I went to camp for one day when I was a kid. It was sleepover Girl Scout camp and the first day, after we made sit-upons out of old newspapers and yarn, we had to volunteer for chore duty–they gave us a list of the jobs, and I put my hand up for latrine duty because I thought it sounded like something French.
    When I saw what latrine duty was, I was horrified and I stalked my chubby little seven-year-old self to the camp office and told them to get my mother on the phone and tell her to come get me.
    When she got there, I was absolutely shocked and asked her if she KNEW they wanted us to poop in a hole!
    She took me home and since then, I don’t go places with no air conditioning.

  96. I fondly remember summer camp and the joy of surviving to the end without a rattlesnake bite or falling off the side of the mountain. I’m glad she had so much fun. You’ll be hearing about it forever, and that’s why being a mom is the greatest job in the world.

  97. “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE.” I laughed so loud my husband came to see what was going on – thanks for the giggle! She is beautiful. She looks just like you.

  98. I have ‘get tough or die’ tattooed on my leg. Because of ‘a boy named sue.’ Either way, good words. I love Lois! 🙂

  99. This was just wonderful. Simply wonderful and oozing lots of good mojo.
    Thank you for the “tractor made entirely from tetanus”. This article makes me furiously happy.

  100. It seems so appropriate that the genital trophy says Prude Ranch for a kid’s camp.
    This entire post…I’m DYING laughing over here. Made my whole evening. 🙂

  101. Oh my goodness, this is just fantastic. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s joy with us.Talking about freaking out while your kids are away made me a little misty eyed with empathy. Then those pictures of Hailey’s uncontrollable happiness just sent me over.
    I also thought that was you on a tractor when I first saw the picture. But I think (from my limited perspective) she seems to have Victor’s eyes when she smiles. I see some “For Christ’s sake, Lois,” items in our Zazzle future. 😉

  102. Love this! I let my oldest go to sleep away camp for the first time this year. He returned with his suitcase smelling like something died in it, and I had to pretty much boil or discard everything, but other than that, it was awesome. His nametags for next year will say: This is camp. Get tough or die.

  103. freaking amazing. where do I sign up? I mean…where do I sign my kids up? This is camp at it’s best! Also, I don’t know how you captured those amazing expressions…but you did.
    Well done.

  104. I am so glad your daughter had a good time at summer camp! Being just past my prime in terms of going myself, I am thrilled that I now get to live vicariously through a nine-year old I have never met. 😉

    Thanks for inspiring me to start my own blog, the (ironically named)!

  105. Good for you for loosening the strings enough to Hailey push the envelope! and good for Hailey for apparently diving into the camp experience and becoming a horse-woman! For those of us who have not had a waist since…oh…40 years ago, the belt buckle can be turned into a great pendant, or, a part of a sculpture….

  106. I love this so hard, and I am so proud of you surviving her being there. At 36 and a half, do you think I am too old to go there? I think my mom would be okay with it, since half my lifetime has gone by outside of her house…

  107. Camp is the best. I went to a camp in high school where we white water rafted and slept in tents and swam in swimming holes and hugged huge old trees. It was the best. You learn so much about yourself and about life at camp. For instance, I learned that I will never be able to be a rock climber because I hate heights, but I totally have the ability to get in an inflatable raft and launch me and four of my friends into a raging river that could easily kill us.

  108. This is awesome! I just smiled reading it, because I could feel Hailey’s joy in your writing. I have a few years before my kids start begging for sleep-away camp, but I will be a nervous wreck, too.

  109. Get that girl some cowboy boots and a good leather belt for that buckle! She’s a natural.

  110. I thought YOU were on the tractor, I swear. She clearly looks like you though I’m not sure I know what Victor looks like. LOVE her happiness, love the photo, could we edit out the little photo-bomber in the back? She is trying to steal Hailey’s thunder, with malice. My kids went to camp for 6 weeks every year, they begged. The first summer they went for four weeks, I was sick with anxiety the first two weeks. I even called their counselors on the sly to check on them. But, that was 15 years ago, I don’t think they would mind that so much now. Laurie F.

  111. Can’t believe how much she looks like you Jenny! And she looks like she had a blast. Hope her tetanus shots are up to date.

  112. I loved overnight camp. Mine was put together by the salvation army but run by lesbians. It was great. I’m sure your daughter had a great time.

  113. That is the face of sheer joy. You and Victor are doing a great job, that Hailey has such a zest for life. Win.

  114. SO AWESOME! I hope she never loses that joy! This post helped me remember just some of that. That joy I was wise enough to bury deep. It still glows where it’s hidden.

  115. Come on down to Prude Ranch and ride the Tetanus Tractor! LOL perfect. I also thought that photo was an old one of you, H is gorgeous like her mum. I loved this post and totally relate… I want my boys to have all the adventures and more that I had as a kid in the great outdoors and yet I have to consciously try to NOT THINK about all the deadly animals, large rocks, holes, ocean rips, germs, serial killers and large trees that look like they’re about to fall over or get hit by lightning so just don’t go near it come on IT COULD happen! One of my favourite posts on the subject is and “mountain pepper” is now one of my favourite sayings.

  116. I can’t believe no one has commented about the sacrilege of SPITTING CHOCOLATE? What are they teaching kids these days? (Wonderful pictures! I would have had to have her “win” several times, I think, to catch that expression.)

  117. When is it a real post? I loved reading this! This should be a real post.

  118. She’s so gorgeous! And amazing! And happy! But did she go to”prude camp”?

  119. YAY Hailey for winning a genital trophy from Prude Ranch. It’s the next best thing to a chastity belt. YAY you for letting her go do something that may have been slightly dangerous by today’s standards and surviving to tell the very funny tale.

  120. At my daughters first horse camp she won a hoof award for “Most likely to get stepped on”. I was afraid to let her around animals larger than our ferrets for quite awhile

  121. At least your daughter wanted to go away to camp. My daughter steadfastly refused to go on any overnight stay away with schools until her final year of school! The year she did go I threw a party when I got the first text that said “This is AMAZING!!!!!” because it meant I didn’t have to feel as sick as I had been up until that point.

    Unlike me when I was on a school trip she did not find a load of quartz rock to fetch back and proudly display in her bedroom because…….she is not a nerd!

  122. This could be the best post in the history of forever. Her look of joy in that one picture wins the internet for today!

  123. I am currently living in Italy and these are the things that I miss in American and I just can’t explain to the people out here. Especially, being from Texas 😉

  124. My mother saved my letters from camp. It was just like the song “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh”. The first two letters would declare my misery – food, bugs, rain, homesickness, injury …then an ominous few days silence and then a letter listing all the amazing crap I did and a request to “please deposit some money at the camp store for me because it’s the only place to get Pop Rocks for MILES.” Apparently once upon a time Pop Rocks were a real measure of status.

  125. I just have to add that I like to share my ‘letters from camp’ and a friend showed me the single letter she sent to her parents the only time she went to camp. “I’m having fun but I forgot some things. Please mail me some watermelon bubblicious, a toothbrush and a cocktail dress.” To this day she has no memory of why she thought she needed a cocktail dress at summer camp.

  126. This sounds like the very best sort of camp. fuck you, lanyards. As one of the kids who pined for camp but could never afford it, thanks for giving Haley that opportunity!

  127. If this is not a “real post,” I don’t know what is. SUPER cute.

    I always wanted to go to summer camp. Instead, I waited until high school…and then I went to cheer camp.

    I thought maybe it’d be a little bit like Salute Your Shorts…

    FYI, Not. The. Same.

  128. I’m so glad she had a good time at camp.
    My anxieties prevented me for going. In fact I told all our neighbors that my mother was trying to get rid of me and that if they didn’t see me around for a while they would know what had happened. Mom never said a word to me, but I’m sure some neighbor must have leaked what I said back to her because I never had to go and the subject never came up again.
    And that Lois line? Perfection! Congrats to Hailey on the win!

  129. Looking at the t-shirts, I thought it was “Rude Ranch.” Which would be awesome.

  130. I love all your posts but I think this one might just be my all-time favorite. Hailey is adorable and you are the coolest mom EVER (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fellow neurotic mom who hopes to be able to suck up my fear when my kids are ready for summer camp). You’re a lucky mom to have such a great kid but she’s an even luckier kid to have such a great mom.

  131. So she won at Prude Ranch so they gave her a buckle to put over her privates. How… fitting…?

  132. YAY! THIS WHOLE POST! The tractor made entirely of tetanus, the horses, HAILEY WINNING, you surviving, grandparents still around, everything Jenny. Every single little bit of this post. Yay! 😀

  133. I always loved camp but was lacking the friend that said “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE.”

    I think I need that on a mug.

  134. ack! I’m so excited for her! And you should know that only the best tractors are made entirely of tetanus. Just wait until she’s older and she wants to go volunteer in a refugee camp full of malaria and dengue fever, you’ll be longing for the Prude Ranch like the Doctor yearns for a fellow Gallifreyan

  135. One of my former students is a Prude Ranch counselor. He’s a ginger named Alex. If Hailey thought he was an awesome counselor, I’m going to take credit. If she didn’t, well then let’s blame his other college instructors.

  136. The joy in her face is phenomenal — not just winning — but riding the tractor. Even as small as that barrel-racing photo is, I can tell she’s loving it.
    Barrel racing camp was the most fantastic experience of my life to that point. I was a suburban Long Island kid — and who’d have thought the ‘local’ Girl Scout camp would teach western riding and barrel racing? But it did — and I loved it so much.

  137. The thought of sleep away camp terrified me as a girl. Of course, now that my son goes I’d give anything to do that stuff. Good on ya, Hailey! Bravo!

  138. BWahahaha! I would have absolutely died laughing at that skit. That is so awesome. Also, way to go, Hailey!!!

  139. This made me cry. Sappy tears. So happy she got this experience and won the race.

  140. Love the furiously happy pic, but I’d watch the girl in the back of the picture…clenched fist, grimace on her face she looks like…well, I’m hoping that the picutre just caught her at the wrong time.

  141. YES — the Lois/camp quote would make a great Tshirt — and an even better pillow. To take camping of course. It should be packed with hidden candy for emergencies. 😉

  142. PRUDE RANCH!!! Oh, my – I went on a couple of retreats there when I was in college. Have you been to the McDonald Observatory out there? Or checked out the Marfa Lights? So cool 🙂

  143. PS for you grownups who want to go to camp — if you have a dog and like New England in the summer, google Camp Gone to the Dogs, in Vermont.
    My truth in advertising statement… my niece is one of the trainers, she & her dog Hank competed in the first agility class at Westminster Dog Show this last year… and I’m proud as hell to be her crazy auntie.!)

  144. Shie is BEAUTIFUL and she is your clone! What a wonderful memory for all of you. PS… A belt buckle that says ‘Prude Camp’ on it MUST be saved as a surprise gift at her wedding shower someday!

  145. Once again, BEST PARENTS EVER! Congrats to Hailey for being a rodeo BADA$$!!! And I would love a For Christ’s Sake Lois t-shirt and/or mug. It would really help on most days!!!

  146. I enjoy entries about your hairless and less than pointy eared cat. She looked so overjoyed for the winning! This is why we fail when we use terms like ‘Everybody is a winner’ because it sucks away the joy from the real winners and teaches children that they are perfectly fine being mediocre in everything they try because they’ll get a trophy anyway.

  147. Prude Ranch. I went there when I was in the 9th grade. Called my parents and BEGGED to stay another two weeks. They let me. BEST. CAMP. EVER! Loving Hailey! What a great smile!

  148. I agree, Jenny.. The girl behind The Spawn looks like she’s about to knock Spawns head loose and the teacher/parent and boy behind her know exactly whats gonna go diz-own. SCRAPPIN’ TIME.

  149. Seriously. On the tractor, I thought that was a picture of YOU from your childhood! Amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing it, and I’m so glad your daughter enjoyed herself so immensely. Extra gigantic points for the Photo of Excited Glee!

  150. My son’s camp accidentally called us when some other kid hit her head. They had us on speed dial under ‘mild head injury’.

  151. I went to Prude Ranch, second generation, too. My grandmother was the camp nurse there for years. I remember learning archery and shooting rifles for target practice, and I think they tried to teach me tennis. Horseback riding was the coolest part, and the skits and the friends. My cousins kids go now, third generation campers. I’m glad Hailey had fun, it’s a neat experience! Thank you for reminding me of the memories of skits and barrel racing!

  152. I went to Prude Ranch nearly 20 years ago and it does still look the same. I stayed in a cabin with tons of bunk beds in it, there was scary drawing and sayings written on the walls in glow-in-the dark paint.

    Congrats to Hailey on her 1st place buckle, I would wear that every day!!!

  153. I love the contrast between the “before” pic, all posed and pristine in her helmet, and the “after” furiously happy pic!! So amazing! Congrats to Hailey, and congrats to you for being strong and letting her have such an awesome experience:)

  154. I woulda thought the Prude Ranch was somewhere the Duggar girls went to summer camp. Huh.

  155. How was that not a real post?
    I smiled and my heart was made fuller after reading it.
    OK, I wasn’t peeing myself and running to the loo, but it was still a delightful experience.
    (What does it say about us that we look forward to peeing ourselves and willfully inflict such on ourselves by visiting your website? I believe therapy is in order.)

  156. Forget my kids- I WANNA GO TO THIS CAMP. I’m not a prude, though.. I’m actually kind of a whore. Can I still go?

  157. Two questions, WHO got the rust out of Hailey’s jeans and does she look anything at ALL like Victor???

  158. The “tractor made from tetanus” comment made me LOL a little too much.

    I used to read your blog a while back but I’ve been MIA from the blogging world. Nice to see you’re still here, funny as ever!

  159. That girl in the back of the picture, where she found out she won, looks like she is about to punch Hailey in the back of the head.

  160. Forgot to mention the “tractor of tetanus” line made me actually spit out my latte. At Starbucks prices, you owe me $0.57

  161. She is simply adorable. Nothing better than a belt buckle saying Prude Ranch Champ. That should keep her date free well into her 20s.

  162. How delightful. And don’t think for a moment that I don’t see why a mother would want her daughter to go to a Prude Ranch every summer for the rest of her natural (and a good portion of her unnatural) life.

  163. And just for you guys, you can make a big poster with the motto “AUT DURARI AUT MORI!”
    The “DI MAGNI, LUDOVICA! CASTRA SUNT” at the front is optional.

  164. I prefer to think of a buckle as a trophy that you don’t have to dust.

  165. Something about that first photo of Hailey reminds me of a young Ashley Judd.

  166. I remember getting to go to Prude Ranch when I was in junior high. It was very fun, but very ahem rustic even then. Still, it looks like she had all kinds of fun! She just gets more gorgeous every time I see a picture of her.

  167. Oh my goodness! The furiously happy is leaking out all over my computer and into my brain – faaaaabulous! (I wish we had places like that in the UK – we just have the heart-breakingly expensive and mostly crap Center Parcs. Hey ho.)

  168. My best friend and I when we read or hear funny things will look for every opportunity to throw them into conversations. ” For Christ’s sake Lois…” will be making appearances for a long time to come.

  169. Get tough or die! This will be my new life motto…
    Horses are my thing so I really enjoyed reading about Hailey’a camp experience.
    That feeling of winning 🙂 nothing like it!

  170. I know at least 30 people have said this but I thought that was you on the tractor, not Hailey. I thought that you had gone to the camp as a child and then Hailey went (I tend to look at the pictures first). After reading the post I couldn’t believe it. She looks fab on that horse, by the way. Summer Camp. Good for her.

  171. Thanks for the entertainment value of this post. Fun. If I had a daughter I soooo would have sent her to Prude Ranch.

  172. “Get tough or die!” That is my new slogan…thank you. I need it right now. It makes me laugh. Hailey is so beautiful and vibrant. You are doing a great job being mom!

  173. Is it thoroughly evil of me to laugh that your daughter has “a trophy you wear over your genitals” which says PRUDE RANCH CHAMP???

  174. I’m guessing that quote will be on a Zazzle cup within a week. And I agree with the other posters – it cracks me up when you say it won’t be a real post but a “quick update” and it turns into a multi-picture three page spread. But I have to say, that camp is on the other side of Texas! No wonder you were stressed out.

  175. Does that seriously say “PRUDE RANCH”? Maybe that’s why it’s a belt buckle that covers the genitals?!? Like a cowgirl version of a chastity belt?

  176. awww 🙂 i love your daughter’s excitement!

    side note: I thought her shirt said “rude Ranch” and was wondering what types of things she would learn if she went there.. ?

  177. Have to find a way to work this into a conversation today — “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE.” Hmm. I’m working on an amended & restated loan agreement — think anyone will notice if I slip that in there, maybe around Clause 23?

  178. I wanna go to this summer camp!
    I feel for you on sending her to camp. Every time my daughter goes swimming during day camp I have to breath into a paper bag!

  179. I’m feeling so lucky today that I’m going to take the tetanus tractor for a drive 🙂

  180. Hells bells… it is so hard to walk away and leave our child in the hand of obviously competent adults for more than a few hours, let alone a week or more. I keep telling myself it is for them not for me. Most parents are overjoyed to be relieved from duty for a week.. I’m like you … fetal position, wild thoughts of ER’s and Nighttime slasher movies. Glad she had a great time… glad you are ok.

  181. i can’t believe how big Hailey has gotten and that dark hair!?!?!? I still remember that itty bitty blonde cutie from when I followed you on Mama Drama. She looks like she had a blast!

  182. That girl in the back who didn’t win is about ready to punch the shit out of her. I’d have my locks changed.

  183. OMG, Hailey is so cute! That face . . . I want to squarsh it. So glad she had a fabulous time, and I’m glad you survived. Next year? No fetal position.

  184. Camp is always way harder on the parents than the kids and most kids come away unscathed. I loved horse camp as a kid and wish I could go back as an adult. But mostly for what would seem now (as a bonus mom to three step-daughers) as peace and quiet. 🙂

  185. I got the giggles and the feels. I can still remember summer camp, and it was 47 years ago.

  186. For Christ’s sake Lois. I’m allergic to tetanus. Remind me to stay away from that tractor!

  187. This post was so wonderful it made me smile and brought tears to my eyes.
    My daughter is 10 and it would be incredibly hard for me to send her away to camp. Kudos to you!.I want to see that confidence and joy in my daughter’s face.

    Time to get out of my helicopter and find a way to set her free to find it!

    Love to you Jenny. With my struggles with depression and the poverty we live under you always bring me smiles!

  188. Oh, wow, fireworks and frisbees, this is possibly the best post ever (well – if one of the horses had been taxidermied and wearing a tiara it would have been, but it was CLOSE). Congrats to Hailey – go, her!!! And those are totally words to live by, Lois.

  189. I hope she hold onto that amazing spirit forever! I’m an elementary school teacher and believe me, lots of kids would benefit by a camp experience like that. I absolutely love the camp counselor quotes!~

  190. I’ve had a really mega-shitty day in a more than usually shitty week and I just want to thank you and your girl who took me back to a happy place and time with horses and smiles.

  191. I went to horse camp as a kid, loved it, and then proceeded to work for many summers at one. You’ve got the description perfect— kids “fend” for themselves and fall off shit and get dirty and have fun.

  192. I love this. love it love it love it. she’s beautiful! congrats! 🙂

  193. If you are EVER in Southern California with Haley, please let me know. We have a beautiful horse she could play with and there are other horses at the stable she would get a kick out of riding. My son rides, and he always enjoys helping other kids learn the finer points of grooming, tacking, riding, and shoveling sh**. Because you do a LOT of that.

  194. HUZZAH! This is fantastic.

    I’d like to know, though, is the girl behind her (in the furiously happy pic) the girl she beat out, cuz she looks like she’s setting her feet for a tackle…

  195. Furiously Happy Hailey brings tears to my eyes! She and my Abby would get along swimmingly! 🙂

  196. In the tractor picture, I thought that was YOU at first, then in another, she’s a miniature female copy of Victor, then another picture has her looking like a perfect 50-50 of the both of you. What a beautiful little girl you have.

  197. I’m not sure if anyone pointed bit out yet, but, in horse shows they don’t give trophies they give buckles for the winners and that is a HUGE deal! Now she needs a fancy new blingy belt to show that bad boy off!!!

  198. This post made me laugh out loud!! (I’m not fucking using LOL). I just sent my 11 year old to horse camp and my husband and 17 year old daughter took off on a sailing trip IN THE OPEN OCEAN for 3 days. This coming off a very stressful 2 week trip to help my 81 year old house bound mother 350 miles away, who coincindentally, two days after I got there was robbed of $2000.00 by one of her caregivers who had stolen her bank card!!!! There’s so much more…. but I’ll spare you. I have been sick with anxiety and stress the last three days, which should have been glorious since I was ALONE AT LAST after 17 years!!! Alas, the anxiety has been so severe that my back and neck are in pain and I have intermittently (sp? who cares) been convinced I’m having a heart attack or a stroke. After reading this post, I feel better, not a whole lot better, but better. I wish I had friends I could talk to about how I’m feeling but I kinda don’t, so in the words of Rob Delaney, I will go get help. Jesus knows I need it.

    1. I thought that was you on the tractor. Clearly adorable runs in the family.
    2. I love the I won face, so awesome.
    3. Was there EVER a better quote than: FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LOIS. THIS IS CAMP. GET TOUGH OR DIE. I’m pretty sure not.
      Thanks for sharing, I loved camp and I love awesome camp stories.
  199. This was forwarded to me by friends who know I’m a Prude Ranch Counselor alumni. Wondering if this was the same Prude Ranch I always talked about. Seriously? Could there possibly be TWO Prude Ranch Summer Camp? Best camp ever! And trained me well for my current position in the film industry. My fellow counselors and I still get together every 4th of July. Hailey will have friends for life from her Prude Ranch summers! (Earning a belt buckle is a BIG DEAL! Way to go Hailey! ) Love this post!

  200. I’m sure it’s mentioned above, but my guess is you weren’t feeling quite up to snuff when you blogged on Lois’ toughening-up – b/c you didn’t have much to say about “Prude Ranch.” At first I thought the T-shirt said “Rude Ranch” and thought if I had kids I’d totally send them there.

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