So Let Me Tell Y’all About This Camp I Just Left…

“You really think I care if some funky fourteen-year-old doesn’t like me?”

So, you’re probably wondering how I got here. Those of you with kids can imagine the plethora of scenarios that led to me screaming these words by the marshy shores of a South African lake, but for the sake of those not blessed with the constant presence of hormonal teens, we’ll go through the exercise of explaining how I arrived at a place called Up To Here. (Let me preface this by saying some of the kids are actually pretty helpful and sweet. Some of them.)


Our kids go to a small private school because the public/government schools in our new city are packed to the gills. “Private school” means “privilege” and that privilege is still held by members of a particular race. All that is to say, the girls make up 50% of the Black student population at their school.

The school has an annual camp, and this year they asked Marshall and I to function as the cooks for said camp. I know: The optics look really bad. Two overweight Black people cooking up hot plates for a bunch of white kids, but the school was willing to wave the camp fees for the entire family in exchange for our service…so I bought aprons and practiced my most winning grin. Everyone loves a grinnin’ chef.

So yeah – that’s how I ended up sleeping on the ground for two nights.


White South Africans are afraid of their children. They have to be. Let me tell you something: There is no good and godly reason that any adult – let alone four of us – should have to tell a child five and six times to stop doing something. And yet, that’s exactly what was required to get some mousey brown haired brat to stop shooting at the monkeys in the trees. Oh? I didn’t mention the monkeys? Well it IS Africa, after all. Anyways, there were vervet monkeys that broke into the kitchen and ate the potato salad. So one boy (we’ll call him Jan) decided to take his homeboys and their water guns and squirt them. Relentlessly. For hours. After we told him to cut it out. Finally, one of the alpha monkeys had had it with little Jan Van Colonizer and charged him. The only thing that saved him was one of the dads stepping in between the boy and the enraged animal.

I was pleased that Jan had to leave camp early. He had taken up residence right by the lake’s shore (beach front property and all) and was mercilessly tore up by a horde of mosquitoes. His dad had to come rescue him. I have a fondness for mosquitoes. They’ve been staving off white invasions since the 1600s.   

Scary white girls:

Y’all. You know how the most frightening thing in the world is some little towheaded child riding alone in an elevator or walking all by herself in the woods? Forget Freddy, forget Jason…Bjornina is the one you have to watch out for.

I’ve been trying to tell my girls for years that while it’s okay to play with white girls, it’s in their best interest never to put their complete trust in them. They will throw you under the bus, back it up over you and weep to anyone who will listen about how your blood sullied their tires.

So this kid named Donovan had a makeshift water propeller that he’d constructed from an old water bottle, a bit of PVC and a nozzle. It was pretty cool. He was the envy of quite a few kids. Little freckle-faced Allison was one of those kids. She demanded to play with the invention and was snubbed. So what does Allison do? Three Mario coins if you said, “Cry”! Donovan in unfazed. Seeing that her tears are having no affect on the older boy, Allison lifts up her shirt, digs her hands into her flesh and scratches her back. Then she scampers off to report that Donovan had assaulted her.

Yes, you heard that right: This little &^#@%$ was willing to mutilate her own body and falsely accuse another kid because she didn’t get her way.

Donovan is shaken – and rightly so.

“Auntie Malaka. Auntie Malaka! Do you know what Allison just did?!?”

I tried to give the poor kid as much attention as I could, but I had to make sure the burgers didn’t burn.

“Mmmhmmm…” I said, eyes fixed firmly on my meat. “Yeah. That’s crazy.”

What in the Jussie Smullet Academy of False Accusations…?

Camp Clapback:

Marian is a strict vegetarian and Head Guardian of the collective. She’s also very preachy about her beliefs.

As I was serving up bacon – bacon that Marian insisted I buy for the kids – she chirps the following:

“Don’t eat too much bacon, my darlings. Meat has antibiotics, pesticides and other harmful products. It…”

A smallish voice cries out from the crowd:

“Then why are you serving it to us?”

Oh my gash

So you think you tricky, huh:

I don’t know whose bright idea it was to allow a pack of 12-18 year olds out in the woods together with no ground rules, no structured events and plenty of dark corners into which to disappear, but I guess that’s how white folk do. I guess y’all trust your kids that way. I’m here to tell you: You shouldn’t.

Reeves thinks he’s a half gangsta/half golf pro/half ninja who can walk trough tent walls unseen. He spent four hours trying to scuttle his way into his “girl friend’s” tent. AT 1:15 AM. Remember monkey dad? Well, he’s ex-military and he was having none of it. Having already spoken to Reeves the two other times he tried to sneak into Jodie’s tent (again, why are we repeating ourselves to children?) he announced that he wasn’t going to sleep.

“If you want to get into this girl’s pants, you’re going to have to do it at her parent’s house…but not on my watch.”

Monkey Dad was my favorite adult at this camp. We can hang.

Let me tell you about Jodie:

Saturday morning came at last. It was time to go. Naturally, none of the kids wanted to help clean up, because that’s what their maids – women who look an awful lot like me – at home do. So I’m cleaning. I’m packing away supplies. I’m getting more pissed by the minute, because the head teachers are over there drinking wine and my husband and I are busting our behinds to break down this makeshift kitchen.

Jodie comes along in the midst of all this chaos and asks if she can have some muesli.

“Of course you can,” I say benevolently. I remember she likes muesli. I remember because yesterday at breakfast, this child put her fist into the jar to scoop it out. I advised her not to. It wasn’t considerate of the other campers. “You’ll just have to find it on your own.”

Jodie locates the muesli and what’s the first thing she does? Puts her hands into the jar of muesli.

“Jodie! When are you going to stop being so…ugh! Don’t put your hands in the muesli!”

“But I’ve just come from washing them!” she protested. “They’re clean!”

“But you’ve also just been digging around in these boxes and pots.”

“But I don’t like the raisins,” she retorted, all the while picking the raisins out of her bowl of muesli and putting them back into the jar.

“You gotta stop being so nasty,” I sneered. And I know I sneered. I felt my lip curl in that porch sitting – old snuff chewin’- Big Momma way.

Jodie disappeared with her bowl. Where did she go? To report to one of the wine drinking head teachers that I had yelled at her.

Honey. Child. Please. If I had been yelling – as bush and West African as I am – they would’ve been picking pieces of your shattered soul from the bushes. I’m sure she’s never had a Black woman speak to her in that manner before. You gon’ learn today!

News got around quickly that Auntie Malaka had yelled at Jodie – the trollop who was trying to Reeves to get her panties wet the night before.

Nadjah came to report it to me.

“You really think I care if some funky fourteen-year-old doesn’t like me?” I bellowed.

“No, Mom. Not at all,” said Nadjah. “I didn’t appreciate how she was talking about you. I told her that all she had to do was ask for a spoon.”

I have done and will continue to do many things in the name of motherhood, but I ain’t never going camping again.