Saturday, June 30, 2007

Olympic Day

There are several special days over the course of the summer at camp. The first of which we had yesterday, Olympic Day. This consisted of a long show put on by several counselors at the beginning of the day. They had divided themselves into two teams: The Spartans (above) and The Athenians (below) and were to compete against each other in a variety of very messy activities for the
children's amusement.

The activities got messier as time went on. First it was be the first to find a piece of bubblegum in a plate full of flour and blow a bubble. Then it was a trivia game where the first person to get the right answer could splat their opponent's face with a shaving cream pie. After that, each team took turns breaking an egg over one of their team member's faces as that team member balanced a cup on their face.

After that, it was gross balloon popping.


The object was to put a balloon filled with either vinegar, mustard, BBQ sauce, or other gross liquids (or semi-liquids) between you and your partner's chest, run down the stairs of the amphitheater without dropping it, then, when you get to the bottom, try to pop it by crushing it between you.

And all this was just the show before the actual day.

They had mini-periods all day for the kids to compete at different events themselves and win ribbons for first, second, and third place. Sometimes, they worked as teams and the whole team received ribbons, other times it was on an individual basis and only three kids got ribbons. It was a lot of fun and I took lots of pictures to make CDs for my kids, so even if they didn't get that many ribbons, they would have plenty of pictures to remember Olympic Day. :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Super Counselor!

Monday, the first day of the week, the day where we get new campers, new weekly schedules, it's a fresh start. Usually.

One of our kids was going on the overnight trip and the "procedure" for getting them to the right place to leave on time is to take them to the nurse so she can check them out then they get on the bus from there. My co-counselor and I are pretty good at taking turns with who takes the whole group and who takes the one kid where they need to be. It was my turn, so I take one of our boys over to the nurse's room. She wasn't there. Okaaaaay. We were a few minutes early and we had left before they made the announcement to get the overnight kids to the nurse. So we waited a few minutes.

Soon another group showed up looking for the nurse so I knew we were in the right place. We were suppose to have the kids at the nurse by 9:15, and when it rolled around, the nurse was still nowhere to be found. The group that came in after us eventually left, while several other counselors just dropped off their kids and left without even checking to see if the nurse was there. I somehow ended up with fifteen or twenty kids and only one other counselor in sight staying until the nurse got there. Thank goodness for him because otherwise I would have been illegally outnumbered (not literally "illegally" but you know what I mean). Neither he nor I would be going on the overnight, there were counselors assigned to go but they were nowhere to be found either!

One of the lifeguards happened to wander by and stop in, thankfully. He went up to the office to find out about the nurse. When he came back, he informed us that the nurse was going to be late but she would be in around 9:30. I looked at the clock, it was already a few minutes past 9:30. Great. At quarter to ten, one of the administrator's came into the room for something else, but then found out about the nurse still be absent and said that we should all go down to the pavilion and wait for the nurse there, rather than have everyone in the tiny space. So the ONE other counselor (and junior counselor at that, he wasn't even 18 yet) and I took all the kids outside and down to the pavilion. Which was where we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally, after ten, ANOTHER administrator happened to walk by and I explained what was going on and how the nurse had STILL not shown up, and she immediately went up to the office to see what was going on. When she came back, she said that the nurse still hadn't arrived yet, but the bus for the overnight doesn't leave until the children had been checked in, so there wasn't a whole lot we could do in the meantime besides keeping the kids out of trouble. I thanked her and let her know that there were just two counselors watching all of the kids (and one of us was a junior counselor) because everyone else just dumped their kids and ran. And those were the words that I used when I explained what happened later, "dumped their kids and ran."

At about 10:30 or so (more than an hour after we were suppose to have dropped off the kids and moved on to the first period with the rest of our group), one of the overnight specialists (someone who just runs the overnights), came over and started to take attendance to see who was with us at the pavilion and who was waiting at the bus circle. Next, we got the kids lined up outside the nurse's room (she had still not arrived) and had them go in two by two and get them checked in to make sure none of them were sick or anything. After that, we went over to the bus circle to wait for the bus's to show up. Even though everyone had been unofficially checked in, it was only a temporary solution. Any children who were taking medication with them on the overnight still had to be checked in by the nurse no matter how late she was. A legal issue in which we had no choice.

11 rolled around and the nurse had STILL not arrived, but reinforcements had arrived! The counselors who were going on the overnight had been summoned and were at the bus circle with us. The kids at this point were getting tired of waiting and kept asking when the nurse was going to come and when they could leave. I kept saying "she'll get here when she gets here, the bus isn't going to leave without you."

Finally, around 11:30 the nurse shows up, the few kids who have meds go and see her while counselors get the bus loaded with gear and kids, and the original junior counselor and I can go back to our groups, just in time for lunch. I quickly explained what happened to my other counselor and gave more full a story to our specialist who said that I did exactly the right thing and to make sure that the administration knew that the other counselors were just dropping off their kids so that they could come up to my "level." A simple thanks and/or acknowledgment is really all I need.

My last several jobs did hardly anything when a good or exception job was done, unless you whined and complained and made yourself noticed the entire time you were doing it. Their opinion was that of "you're doing what I hired you to do", it was expected, not appreciated. I got several "thank yous" and made sure to thank the junior counselor who stayed several times myself.

The rest of the day went fairly smoothly, aside from a loose tooth, many tears, and a trip to the nurse and the office.

One of the boys has a loose tooth and accidentally got bumped in the mouth, which made it hurt and bleed. It had to be one of the boys who has a flair for the dramatic too.

"I feel like I'm going to die!" He said through tears.
"You're not going to die, I promise." I replied, trying not to laugh.
"But it feels like I am!"

I took him to the nurse, got some ice, tissues, and a case in the event that the tooth fell out so we had something to put it in. He was fine when it was just the two of us and I got him talking, keeping his mind off it. But when people asked what happened or if he had time to think about it, he would start crying again. Later, after the last period, my co-counselor took him to the office to see if he could be picked up early (he is one of the children who is picked up late, he goes to supervision after camp is over). He wasn't able to get picked up early, so he did his best to tough it out. The last I saw of him, he was swimming around in the pool as if nothing was wrong.

So yeah, not too bad a day at camp. I'm glad it all happened after I've been doing this for a week, so I have an idea of what I'm doing at least. We'll see what the week will bring...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

First Week

I have been so busy in this first week of camp that I've hardly had time to check my myspace/facebook accounts, much less be able to put a decent blog entry together. So many things have happened in camp this week, and since I've barely had time to sleep much less blog, I can hardly do them justice. Since I have finally gotten the hang of a 45 hour work week, I am hopeful that I will be able to post more frequently in the coming months. So this post will just be a quick run through of the things that stand out in my memory of what happened this week.

The first day of camp was crazy and fun. My co-counselor had been a counselor before so he knew what he was doing and where we were going for the different activities, thank goodness. Our group is a specialty group, they do more of one activity than any of the others. Because it's a specialty group, the ages range and it's co-ed (somewhat). The youngest is 6 and a half and the oldest is 11. The group has a grand total of 17, and only two of them are girls. Little boys are easy for me and difficult at the same time. Easy in the sense that I can raise my voice and not hurt feelings (and sometimes I do need to yell just to be heard), but difficult in the fact that I still have no idea why rocks and sticks are so interesting and why they must constantly pick them up and throw them at each other. That's where yelling comes in handy though.

The main difficulty we had with the big difference in gender numbers was changing into bathing suits to go to the pool. The two girls changed fairly quickly as you can probably imagine. The boys not so much. I thought it would be easier if we let them change in the bathrooms of the building our activity before swim was in. Bad idea. Each bathroom only had two stalls and that's what the boys were using. I'm not sure how long it took, or how many times my co-counselor would open the door and tell them to hurry up, but when I had finally had enough, I opened the door a crack and yelled,

"If you boys don't hurry up, I'm sending the girls in to get you!"

To which the girls' reaction was to run up to me, each raising their hands, and crying, "Oh let me! Let me!" Needless to say that was not the reaction I was expecting, though it did amuse me a great deal. I thought boys and girls have cooties at this age, maybe that was just my generation...

We ended up getting to the pool just before 2:30pm, I thought we were actually early because our other periods had been on the hour and half hour marks. The life guard I spoke to about which group we were and who needed to be swim tested didn't say anything about whether or not we were there on time and even thought we were early too when I said as much. She swim tested the kids kids and then the whistle was blown for adult swim shortly after they finished (which was about ten minutes or so).

I sit down next to my co-counselor after helping some of our kids apply sun screen and he asks if we just want to stay there for the next period. I give him a blank look and that's when he tells me that we were veeeeeery late. We were suppose to be there at 2, not 2:30 like I had thought. I looked at our schedule and he was right, I also looked at what our next activity was suppose to be and couldn't bring myself to tell 15 boys that they couldn't swim anymore and we all had to go to Dancing. We passed the world along through another counselor who was heading up the hill to upper camp where dancing was (the pool is at the bottom of the hill, and it's a pain to walk up and down it all day if you don't have to) that our group wouldn't be making it and the specialist could go home early if she wanted. According to my other counselor, the woman who does dancing is cool and probably wouldn't mind. I know I wouldn't mind if I got to leave early on the first day.

So we stayed at the pool longer than we should have, nobody noticed or minded. It was the first day after all, everyone just chalked any craziness up to that fact. The kids didn't mind that we missed dance, like I thought. We got them changed and back up the hill for popsicles and pick up close to right on time. We took turns taking kids to buses and afternoons supervision (some kids parents come later or some kids have a bus that comes later), the buses left close to on time and then the parents were allowed to come up. Pick up went smoothly for the first day, so I'm told, and I was on the road by 5.

We had a knotting class. Our group got the first knot (which was suppose to be the whole half an hour lesson) within the first five minutes. So the specialist moved on to another knot that was a bit more challenging. Most of the kids got it quickly and moved on to the playground, but some stayed behind to practice and learn more knots. The girls ran off to play with another group of girls who had started a game of Red Rover and stayed with them until we moved on to the next activity. Meanwhile, the next time I look over at our specialist, one of the boys is tying his hands behind his back with a newly learned knot.

Turns out, the specialist told him to, so he could see if he could get out of it or not. *Shakes head* Boys...So the rest of the day I told people that my group tied up the knotting specialist.

We had archery on Wednesday and everyone had been looking forward to it all week. Most of the kids could hit the target with at least one of their three arrows, but some flew way over and behind them. I got two arrows in the yellow portion that is in the middle (one of which landed in the very middle circle) and most of the boys saw this. I had hoped it would keep them in line later on knowing that I could hit a bullseye with a bow and arrow ;)

During the lunch period on Thursday, but after most of the kids had finished their lunch, some of the boys began fighting with their towels. Not twisting them up tight and whipping them at each other, more like just swinging them around trying to hit each other. Since we each lunch indoors and there were no other groups around, I didn't mind because there was really no one else for them to hurt in their little game. On the one hand, I wanted to be the cool counselor to show them how to roll up their towels and snap them at each other. But on the other hand, I didn't need 15 boys rolling up their towels and whipping each other near me and in an enclosed area.

After karate class on Friday, but before the period was over, we played a game called "Tiger Tales" which is where two people face each other, both with a bandanna tucked in their belts and try to get the other person's without losing their own. The karate specialist purposely saved me and my co-counselor for last, knowing the kids would want to see us face each other, and he was right. During our round, I could hear the kids betting on who they thought was going to win. I didn't think they were serious. I won, surprisingly (my co-counselor has a good two inches of height on me and is way more athletic), and when I sat down, one of the boys leans over to me and says, "You won me half a popsicle!"

Everyone, at the end of the day during dismissal, gets a popsicle. They are the ones that are like two popsicles stuck together with the two sticks and everything, so it was easy for the boys to bet halves of popsicles. I still couldn't believe that they were actually betting, but I did notice when we did finally get popsicles that everyone was eating a whole one and no one gave up the halves that they had lost.

I also had to deal with my first crier of the summer. One of the boys constantly lost game after game of chicken on the playground and wasn't happy, he felt he had a disadvantage because he had a band-aid on each of his hands. But I talked to him for a little bit and got him to calm down enough to practice balancing with me on another section of the playground and he was happy again in a few minutes. He actually went back to playing chicken with everyone else and didn't mind when he lost. No biggie.

So that was the first week. I keep telling my friends that no matter how bad it seems (whether it's 95 degrees with lots of humidity or it takes me an hour and a half to get home because of traffic), it's still sooo much better than working at a restaurant with customers. I've always been one to work a lower paying job that I enjoyed rather than a higher paying job that I hated. My dad is the other way around and while his personality type can stand that, mine can only take it for so long. I am so happy at camp, I'm having so much fun, and I can't believe I'm getting paid to do what I'm doing. This is the kind of stuff I'd do as a volunteer for my church or something, so to get paid for it is awesome. I thought I was going to have a hard time with it and the kids weren't going to listen at all, but we seem to be doing pretty well, even the specialists say we have a pretty good group. I just hope this will all carry through to the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blog Name

Flagpole is the official beginning of each day of camp. Two staff members get up on the stage with microphones and get the kids excited and wake them up by singing fun and easy songs. Today, the third day of camp, we sang "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More", which I had not heard before and had stuck in my head all day. When I looked for the lyrics we sang this morning online, I couldn't find them, but found lyrics that had the same tune and refrain (pretty close anyway). I thought the title of the song matched fairly well with my recent job change from the customer service industry to a summer camp, thus the name of my newest blog.

In case you were wondering, here are the lyrics I found (some of the others were actually pretty horrific about Mary and her little lamb...):
ARTIST: Trad and Anon
TITLE: It Ain't Gonna Rain No More, No More

It ain't gonna rain no more, no more
It ain't gonna rain no more
How in the heck can I wash my neck
If it ain't gonna rain no more

Oh, a peanut sat on the railroad track
It's heart was all a-flutter
Around the bend came Number Ten
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter


Oh, my uncle built a chimney
He built it up so high
He had to tear it down again
To let the moon go by!


Oh, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood
If he held a saw in his little paw
A ton of wood he could


Oh, it isn't going to rain anymore, anymore
It isn't going to rain anymore
The grammar's good, but what a bore
So we'll sing it like before


A man laid down by the sewer
And by the sewer he died
And at the coroners inquest
They called it "sewercide"


A rich man rides a taxi
A poor man rides a train
A bum he walks the railroad tracks
And he gets there just the same