So with a whole weekend of respite in between, I can hardly remember most of the OE week, but it was rather amusing.
Fortunately, the school was significantly smaller than the last two schools we had visit, with two groups of about 90 kids. We definitely had some campers in the group and they were a noisy, excited bunch. But they were a ton of fun to be around and work with. The teachers, on the other hand, were all over the place. The second half of the week, they were pretty cool, although did some questionable things, but for the first half, they were more uptight than most teachers who usually visit. Last year was the school’s first year here, and they decided to bring all 180 of their kids at the same time (which we told them was a terrible idea). Fortunately, they learned from experience and listened to us this year. The teachers do not really get along with each other, which is the base of our frustrations with the teachers, I think. Miscommunications and lack of communication with each other lead to confusion on our end as all of the teachers tell our director different things. Plus, they were pretty hands on, which, for some of us felt like they were not letting us do our job. Personally, I had pretty good experiences with them. Both of my hikes had teachers along and the latter one in the week was one of my favorite hikes in a while (with campers). Got to do Stream Study, during which we found a copper head in the creek, which was terribly exciting. Had some delightful times up on the ropes course, and fortunately did not have to spend as much time up on the course as I did last week. And canoeing was awesome every time! We’ve been seeing plenty of Great Blue Herons and Cormorants, and even some Ringed Kingfishers and immature Bald Eagles. It makes me very happy. The down side from the week was that the teachers requested that there always be two staff members in a cabin at night AND that they use more cabins than needed because “they promised the kids X number of cabins”. Tiring, especially because we went straight into…
I used Friday afternoon to catch up with the week’s episode of Breaking Bad, primarily. I have really enjoyed the show and look forward to the final episode tonight. Even though I’ll watch it tomorrow.
We had our staff meeting at six and then the kids start showing up around 6:45. This weekend, I got to work with same staff I worked with during week 5 of summer camp (Science Camp II)! So that was pretty exciting. Unlike summer camp, we only had six kids, three boys and three girls, and they were certainly campers. Delightfully campers.
Friday night we just hung out around the lodge, playing Jenga Max (cool, but not better than the original), with a ball, and hide n seek among a couple of the bedrooms with some other tribes. We also went over our expectations for the week. It is an interesting contrast to see how relatively easily the school groups listen than the campers. After snack and bathroom time, it was off to bed with some stories. We give these kids a huge amount of time to sleep. Still not enough for some of them.
Saturday morning started off with a breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, then our tribe headed off to one of the nearby State Parks for the “Heritage Festival”. It was awesome! There were a lot of people in all kinds of re-enactment garb and gear including Civil war peeps with all kinds of weapons and cannon demonstrations, Weaver’s Guild who were spinning, weaving, and dying different wools and hairs, blacksmiths, horse-drawn carts to ride on, and all kinds of wares for sale. The ware’s for sale is more of a worry, as kids tend to want to get stuff. We told them to come back the following afternoon with their parents. Additionally, by the visitors center, some dairy’s had milk and ice cream samples up for grabs – which is just the best. Surprisingly, to me, the thing that attracted and interested our kids the most intently, was the Weaver’s Guild! One of the ladies spinning wool out front was very kind had happened to meet the Camp’s head Director the weekend before (on accident because he ran by her cabin for sale). She talked to our kids for a while, showing them how to spin yarn from wool, and even let them try out her spinning wheel. They couldn’t get enough! Several also learned to or got to weave a little on some small looms. The best part was that the ladies kindly gave out little bits of the wool for them to keep. And the campers are eager to have something comfortable to hold onto and play with. They got to take these little bits of wool over to the dyers and color them with natural plants they’ve learned other times at Camp (Black Walnut, Hickory, Goldenrod, and Sassafras)! It was so awesome. Of course, the cannon demonstrations and free ice cream were also a big hit.
Back at camp, we had lunch, followed by rest, and got to find ways to entertain the kids all afternoon. Fortunately, there are lots of things around and two things scheduled: making snack for the evening and a craft. Snack was cookies that needed decorating with icing (sugar, oh boy) and the craft was leaf animals. I missed much of the cookie decoration trying to get one of the guys out of bed after an hour nap, but the leaf animals was pretty fun. We walked around camp for about half an hour to pick up leaves and, because some of the kids wanted to, we did a little bit of a creek hike as part of it, which the ones who wanted to loved. The actual assembly of the leaf animals was less successful. You were supposed to use an adhesive spray to stick leaves to paper. As long as you are able to keep your fingers not sticky, it isn’t too challenging a task, but it is hard for even someone with well developed fine muscle control to do well. Some of the campers were way more excited about it than others – one made three animals, and some hardly made one. When we realized we just could not keep them locked up in the arts n crafts building any longer, we went outside to go shoot some stuff, always a pleasing pastime for the kids. We went over to the shooting ranges to shoot some slingshots and archery. We had at least two hours until dinner, and I was a little worried about it lasting all of the way until then, but it worked! Slingshots weren’t the most interesting thing ever for a bunch of the kids, but archery got them really excited. After reviewing safety and a couple rounds of shooting, they asked if we could start a competition, so of course we said sure, as long as it was friendly and winners would agree to only pump themselves up and not put down the other team. Well, we had two rounds of shooters, but one of the girls was in the infirmary feeling not so well, so I got to be in one of the rounds (wee! shooting is fun). Well, the round I wasn’t in quickly decided that it was not fair for me to be on the other team, so we compromised by only giving us half of the points that I earned on the target. This went fine for a few rounds, we stayed neck and neck until the last one when one of the people on the other team hit a bull’s eye and then the other team decided it wasn’t fair that I was in the last round at all because I’d been getting pretty much all of the points. Looking back, I probably should have said that we already agreed what was fair and kept shooting, but they gave the other two guys more arrows per person so they had the same total number of shots as they did for the last round. The first round won and celebrated and one of the guys obviously did not feel so good about it and expressed his discontent the way a hungry and tired camper does – inappropriate language, which just makes everyone else upset. So we tried our best to keep them under enough control to get them into dinner, where they calmed down a bit with food in them (ah Hanger….).
After dinner, it was time to get everybody showered, and we had one guy who just refused to, saying he wasn’t comfortable showering anywhere that wasn’t his own house, and couldn’t give any more information than that. Could not give a reason and was clearly only going to get angrier if I tried to push it, so I gave up (with the director’s consent). Pick your battles wisely. He wasn’t even here for 48 hours. After dinner, we had planned on playing hide n seek more, but the girls took a long time in the shower (apparently they were being ridiculous), so the guys and I just hung out on the porch and played with one of the guys bed animals, a stuffed monkey. At 7:15, it was movie time! The best part of respite. We have them watch a movie instead of putting on a campfire or something because it is so much easier and, generally, it works really freaking well. We watched Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs (if you haven’t seen it yet, please do, it is awesome and hilarious – great puns), and it kept the kids fairly well occupied. Of course there were kids talking during it, but they adjusted. The must frustrating part was them asking for snack until they got it, and then still being hungry after having it. We gotta come up with snacks that are a little more filling and less sugary. After the movie was done, it was off to bed by 9:00, without wake up until 8:00a. I don’t understand 11 hours of sleep. Fortunately, I got woken up about half way through the night when the kid who slept above me wet his bed. Wait, fortunately? Anyway, I was woken up, put his damp stuff in a trash bag, cleaned off his mattress, got him a new sleeping bag and sent him back to sleep. Then, washed his bag and all of the clothes that got wet. Super fun.
Sunday morning couldn’t really come fast enough. Wake em up, get em dressed and bathroom’d, and over to breakfast. After breakfast, it is time to pack up and clean the rooms, but my guys managed to get it done before breakfast, so we got to go straight outside and play in a big pile of leaves while we waited for the girls. A pile of leaves is a beautiful thing. That is all I really can say there. Saw some great stuff happen there. Once the girls were ready, we headed down to the beach to go canoeing, which really excited a bunch of the kids (hooray! I love canoeing!). It was a beautiful morning. Cool, but not cold or crisp yet, although definitely clean. A little cloudy, a little sunny, and hardly any breeze at all. We loaded the nine of us into three canoes (one counselor and two campers per boat) and set out along the lake. Beautifully calm water, lots of birds, and no worries about any of the boats because there was a counselor in each of them! It was just delightful. Spent over an hour at it and it felt great. Then, it was back up to camp to spend at least some time processing the weekend. Some wanted to change clothes, so while they did that, I took some back to the arts n crafts building so the girl that did not feel well could work on her leaf animal. All collected again, we went to the camp buckeye tree to collect buckeyes because the kids were super excited about it. Gotta do what they love. All of the buckeyes picked up (I’m pretty sure), we had everyone say one thing that they really liked about the weekend and one piece of constructive criticism. It was nice to see them at least speak up and say that they didn’t like when everybody was being mean to each other. I had an idea when picking up buckeyes that I was lucky enough to be able to do. I gave each person in the tribe a buckeye and told them something that I really appreciated about their presence during the weekend. Just a little something that I thought would help them end on a positive note. Two of them said really nice things back – “I appreciate that you laugh at jokes that I say that aren’t funny” and “You’re the awesomest counselor ever” after which he handed me a small tackle box with three lures and a bobber! Ohmygoodness, so kind and beautiful of him (after he was a butt at breakfast refusing to use the rest of the maple syrup on his plate before getting more syrup and going straight to the director to complain that I wouldn’t let him get more yet). They’re great kids. Then, it was back to the dining hall for lunch. After lunch, we just waited for the parents to show up and got cleaned up. Thankfully, they were all gone by 2:10, not bad for telling the parents to get them by 1:30.
And now I’m here. Looking forward to a run.
Oh right, the chickens:
bawwk. bawk. *scratchscratchpeckscratch* bawk. Ah! who are all of you?! bawk. *scratchscratch* A worm! *peckpeckpeck*