Autumn is school camp season in Hong Kong. The weather’s fine and dry, slightly cooler. It’s the perfect time for our upper primary and secondary school students to kayak, rappel, gorge walk, team build, stay up late, eat white bread and mystery meats, and of course wear the same t-shirt for four days straight!
But for some Hong Kong kids (species; Florem Hothouse), camp is fraught with scary new experiences, like making your own bed or hiking in wet shoes or – gasp! horror! – carrying your own suitcase.
In their honour I send out my deepest sympathies… to their teachers. (Next time you see your child’s teacher after camp week, please give him/her a hug and a shot of whiskey. Both will be much appreciated.) And I offer the following poem, sung to the tune of the classic camp song by Allan Sherman.
The lyrics are based on actual true stories of Hong Kong kids at camp. You’ll think I’m kidding… but I’m not.
Hello muddah, hello faddah
My school camp is such a bother
Camp is very intimidating
They’ve just told me that my helper won’t be staying
Expectations are so crazy
They don’t dress me, they won’t bathe me!
I don’t know buttons or even zippers
I can’t tie my shoes so I just wear my slippers
Not much longer, can I stand this
I cut my meat and, I choose my breakfast
I’m exhausted, by independence
How is cleaning supposed to help me with my confidence?
I don’t want to be a baby
But this rucksack’s got me straining
Where’s my auntie, to play Sherpa?
It’s unfair to cause me any kind of hurtin’
On the trail I, dropped my jacket
But there was no one, there to catch it!
I hope somebody brings it to me
I heard you say it cost you quite a lot of money
Dearest muddah, dearest faddah
If you come get me, on my honor
I’ll be good and study harder
And I promise that one day I’ll be your doctor
But when you text’d me that you missed me
All my bunkmates, they cried with me
Then our teacher, she surprised us
And confiscated all our portable devices
So don’t call me, I’ll have to manage
Without feeling like I’m permanently damaged
I know you love me, but I’ve discovered
That it feels good not to be so very smothered