Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Place I'd Rather Be

Boy do I have lots to write! It’s been almost a month since my last blog. Camp has come and gone, and it’s just about the same way with my short time at home in between here and my next adventure. I’ll get to all of that eventually, so sit back and enjoy the story.

CAK Week: July 19-24, 2009
My first week back at camp was called “CAK” Week—or camp for kids with Cardiac, Arthritis, and Kidney Disease. Allie and I were most excited about this week because we wanted to experience “heart kids” at another camp. We were slightly disappointed about the small number of campers with heart conditions, but it was fun to learn about other medical conditions such as kidney disease and arthritis. One cool thing about this week was that Allie and I were able to work in a cabin together for the first time ever. We were so pumped about it, and it was totally great that we had the same breaks. This meant that not only did we get to hang out together when we were off, but we also led the cabin together when the other counselors were off. Allie and I have always worked well together and it was such a relief to understand each other’s process so that the cabin ran smoothly during the times that we were in charge.
It was during this week that I was assigned to lead “Devo” one evening. Devo is short for “devotional,” which is very similar to “vespers” for those of you who attended 4-H Camp in Louisiana. Basically, each counselor was assigned a night to give some sort of inspirational story or lesson. For mine, I gave each camper an animal cookie and talked about how they each taste the same, but all look different, which symbolized how people all look different but are the same on the inside. Then, I played the song “Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills and afterwards gave a little summary to close it out. I think it went really well and I very much enjoyed leading Devo. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Asthma Week: July 26-31, 2009
Asthma Week was a pleasant surprise for me. All summer long, counselors had been making comments about how Asthma Week is affectionately known as “Ghetto Week,” and that I should not bring any valuables to camp. However, I really thought the kids came from a great mix of backgrounds and there wasn’t any huge majority or minority, which was somewhat different from most other weeks. The girls in my cabin were great, really. As for their asthma, it really wasn’t a big deal at all (just like most kids at camp), but I very much enjoyed learning about the disease and how to manage it. It was also fun to work with Holly for her first week as Senior Counselor. I think we all bonded well and worked together to help make things go smoothly. Overall, it was just a really good week.

Cajun Night
On August 1st, Allie and I hosted a “Cajun Night in Little Rock” at Kyle’s apartment. We purchased the makings for jambalaya, red beans/corn bread, boudain, king cake, and beignets. Our original food list was a lot longer but then we realized we didn’t have much time or space to cook and didn’t have a real head count to know how much we should buy. At several points throughout the day, we thought it might only end up being four or five of us eating the food, but in the end, a total of about 12 or so people showed up. Allie and I were very disappointed in how the jambalaya turned out (it tasted so/so but the coloring was off majorly). Everyone was really nice about it and seemed to like it okay, but if we ever do it again, we’ll do a better job of making sure it turns out right. Oh, and we definitely went all out with setting the mood. My mom sent Mardi Gras beads so we decorated Kyle’s apartment with those, and for a while we had some fun music playing (I couldn’t find my Cajun music, but we improvised). Speaking of which, I think I left that CD in the player at Kyle’s…hm. Anyway, we all had a great time, and hopefully our Little Rock friends have a new appreciation for Cajun food. Tehehe.

Oncology Week: August 2-7, 2009
Boo…my final week at camp for the summer. On a happier note, Allie and I were both scheduled as Senior Counselors (for the first time ever) this week. We each had some challenges in different areas, but it was definitely a good learning experience for the both of us. I think we’d both love to have another go round at being SC, which we’ll hopefully get the chance to do if we make it out to camp again next year.
One extra special thing about this week was that the American Camp Association (ACA) finally came for their accreditation visit. Allie and I both have a decent amout of previous experience with ACA, as we’ve been through it at Heart Camp (me once, and Allie more than twice), and I attended one of their regional conferences a few years ago. So basically, we understood a bit about what was coming, which really helped with not stressing out as much as we could’ve. On the other hand, with working at the archery range, I had to be more conscientious than ever before. Morgan (fellow activity leader) and I went over the procedures over and over again to make sure that we were doing everything correctly and in a manner that someone observing us would be able to pick out every aspect of the process. In doing so, we developed a joke (“1 arm, 2 arms, 3 arms, FOREARMS!”) which really helped to lighten the mood and make things fun at the range this week. We definitely had a good time with our new joke, and it seemed to resonate throughout camp, especially when the kids continued the joke while up at Adventure Challenge, lol. Who says AC and the lake are the best activities at camp—not I!! Heheh.

Long Goodbyes
Since the drive home from Little Rock is about 8 hours long, Allie and I didn’t have the energy to leave after camp on Friday. Plus, we were really sad to go, so we decided to draw it out as long as possible. (After much badgering from Allie and friends, I caved in from the original plan to leave Friday morning, lol.) To enjoy our last day/night in LR, we went out with most of the staff to U.S. Pizza Company for lunch on Friday afternoon. There were more than 25 of us there, which is one of the largest, if not the largest, outings we’ve had all summer. In the afternoon, we hung out and rested back at camp with a few fellow counselors. For dinner, Allie, Sydney, Kika, and I went to Sakesui (sp?) for sushi. It was yummmmy and we got a pretty good deal for the price too. Afterwards, we walked around in Best Buy (I wanted to look at computers) and Old Navy (Sydney wanted to browse) before stopping to get Coldstone for ice cream on our way back to camp. Back at camp, we changed over our laundry and then Sydney and Kika left for evening activities. Allie and I hung out with Clair for a bit, but then we had to trek over to Kyle’s apartment to get all our stuff out of there since we were leaving in the morning.
Upon return to camp for the night, we helped one of our dear fellow counselors with picking the nits out of her hair. Yes, you got it, we had a small lice outbreak (kinda, not really) at camp this week, and with no one around to help her, Allie and I stepped in. This counselor felt terrible about asking Allie and I to help her, but we didn’t mind at all. Although we were up until 3 am working on it, it just felt like the natural thing to do. I mean, really. We’re at camp…we wipe 16 year old’s butts, insert catheters, enemas, and suppositories, poke to check blood sugars, give showers, etc, etc. Yanking dead bugs out of someone’s hair really fits the bill, if you ask me. Lol. Plus, we knew this lady would do it for us if we were in her position. It was really no big deal…anddd we had a great bonding experience entertaining ourselves throughout the night. Lol.
Finally, on Saturday morning, we got our things together and said more goodbyes—to Clair, Sydney, Kika, Bobo, and Eckess, this time. We never did get a chance to say bye to Ali Miller, Blain, or Kyle Fulton, which was a huge bummer. Guess that just means they’ll have to come visit us, or we’ll have to make another trip up here before next summer? Hopefully, the former, lol.
Allie and I finally made it back to Cajun Land during the early evening time of Saturday, August 8th. We said our own goodbyes, to another summer together. Without lives changing all the time, we can never predict if there will be future camp summers before the reality that is adult life overcomes our desires to spend forever at camp. All we can do is hope for the best and plan for the unexpected. Thank you, Allie, for another amazing summer; I can’t imagine a season without you.

Random Recap, Fun Memories
-Not sure if I ever told this story, but on our way to Raleigh in May, Nick and I thought we’d made record time by arriving an hour early…then we realized my GPS, Maggie, was still on Central time. Major bummer, but we changed it and went on with our day. Fast forward to June, and Allie and I were a bit confused at the late Arkansas ETA via Maggie. Then, we realized Maggie was still on Eastern time. Guess I’ll have to pay more attention to that on the future…hahahha.
-June 9th Text Message: “We’re in training which is mostly good. It’s so nice to have a week of fun times with old friends without kids. I have missed this place so much. This huge weight is lifted off of me…The one where I finally enjoy doing what I’m doing again. It’s inexplicable.” (For those of you who remember some of the struggles I had during my time in DC, you’ll appreciate that I finally felt “right” to be someplace again. DC was great but it’s not where I thrive, and so finally I was in my element again, and extremely happy to be doing what I do best. So yay.)
-June 16th Text Message: “It’s weird to transfer from tour-guide-leader-in-charge mode to laid-back-camp-follower mode.” (Although it took me ages to feel confident in my role as a tour guide, it was definitely an adjustment to switch back into a follower mode at camp. Granted, I wasn’t ready to be Senior Counselor right at the beginning of the summer, I just had to readjust my workings, I guess. Some of you may find that interesting. Shrug.)
-June 25th message from Christy Clary: “If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.” –Lewis Carroll
-June 29, Channeling my inner Child Life Specialist: I provided distraction today by playing hangman with a camper as she received a bowel procedure. Annoying nurses surrounded us and I really wanted to keep her mind off things. It was a special experience.
-July 25th Tweet: “Don’t Stop Believing!” – Journey, Our 2009 camp song. Allie and I put this song on “repeat” in the car for a month. I’ll forever think of my “Home Away from Home” when hearing this song…
-July 29 & 30 Tweets: “Never been more happy for rain; swimming in freezing water at 10 to avoid rain, fml.” (For three weeks straight it rained at camp. It was a nice break from the usual monotony of heat and sweaty outdoor activities. However, swimming seems to be high on the totem pole at camp because one day we swam in the freezing cold water at 10 am just so that they kids would get a chance to swim before it rained. Then we had to get out because it started thundering. FoL.)
-July 31st Tweet: “Camp Aldersgate. There’s no place I’d rather be!” (I really don’t think this needs any further explanation.)

And on that note, I believe this blog is long enough. I had hopes of writing a bit more about what I’ve been up to since arriving home from camp, but I really need to stop here so I can finish packing. (Packing? Oo, for where? Guess that’ll just have to be in my next blog……) Hopefully the next one will come sooner rather than later.

Until then, peace folks!