Tuesday, July 8, 2008

At Camp

The whole family is at camp. Julia has been at a summer residential camp the past week and is spending her time hiking, canoeing, enjoying camp sports and games, and going on an extended out-trip. Why she needed to pack a suitcase full of make-up and hair products is beyond my comprehension, but I understand that all the teenage girls do this. Kate and I are in Kingston for the More Than Music Suzuki Institute. She's taking violin workshops and I'm just hanging around, as the institute requires parents to accompany students. Todd's at camp too -- it's called a "business trip".

So here we are on the lovely Queen's University campus, enjoying very pleasant weather. We are staying in a new, clean and comfortable residence, in rooms with a private washroom and air conditioning -- sheer luxury compared to the places I'd lived in as an undergrad. The only complaint I have is the food. We opted for a meal plan at the dining hall as there are basically no other food options. All other food providers on campus, apart from the hospital cafeteria, are closed for the summer. The dining hall offers mostly the same bland, overcooked slop I ate at the University of Waterloo residences over 20 years ago, except now there are signs displaying the nutritional information, so one can't even pretend that it's somewhat nutritious. Mercifully, we've progressed since those early days, and I can now at least get skim milk, whole-wheat bread, real orange juice, and tolerable (if not good) coffee. The evening before the week started, Kate and I walked into downtown Kingston to eat at our favourite Kingston restaurant, Chez Piggy, and we'll try to go into town again before the week is out.

We've completed only half the week at the Suzuki Institute, but so far, things are going well. Kate had attended the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute last year, which is closer to home. This year, because of scheduling conflicts, we decided to venture a bit further. We were warned that these institutes can be overwhelming, but we're surviving just fine by keeping activities and commitments to a reasonably low number, and (for my sake) avoiding some of the over-zealous parents. Each day, Kate attends three workshops: a group class, an orchestra class and a private lesson ("private" meaning she gets 15 minutes of private instruction, but she attends together with three other students). The teachers here are terrific. One can debate the merits and drawbacks of the Suzuki program, but all of the Suzuki-trained instructors that Kate has ever had, including her regular teachers at home as well as Institute teachers, have been excellent. Kate gets three performance opportunities this week: a solo recital later today, plus recitals with her group class and the junior orchestra. In addition to these recitals, there are performances by faculty members and other students throughout the week that we can optionally attend. It's going to be a busy week!

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