Saturday, June 28, 2008

You know you're in Maine when...

1. A moose runs in front of the camp lodge during staff meeting.
2. It's cold enough to sleep in your 30-below sleeping bag every night.
3. You can pick wild lupins for your bedroom.4. A porcupine tries to come into the boys' cabin and joins in at the campfire.
5. The best ultimate frisbee games are the ones that happen during the rain.
6. A seal swims right up to your canoe and stares at you.
7. You hear the word "lobster" more often than the word "computer".
8. We pull ticks off the dogs and each other daily.
9. All the roads feel like rollercoasters because they are so curvy and narrow.
10. You meet a group of crazy camp counselors like these ones:
Camp has been great so far. We spent 2 weeks just getting to know our fellow staff members and refreshing some of the skills that we would need for the summer, such as sailing, fire-building, silly song singing, and crowd control. The staff is a crazy mix of 17 guy and girl counselors plus me, the oddball non-counselor nurse. I am apparently the first nurse in 20 years who is under the age of 40 so I have been asked repeatedly by parents if I am really a nurse or if I am just a counselor filling in until a replacement can be found. The campers don't seem to be bothered by my age - I have been called "Nurse Kezzie", "Nursie", "Dr. Kez", and my favorite, "Mrs. Nurse Lady". (OK, I'm kidding. I hated that one).
The best part of staff week for me was being reunited with my friend, Annie, and getting to know her brother, Jonathan. Annie and I met last summer at this same camp. She was the kitchen girl and I was a first-time counselor. I had just left Haiti after my 5 months at HFC so I was suffering some severe reverse culture shock and feeling hugely guilty for leaving the orphans. Annie was the first person that I really felt comfortable with and she remained my closest friend throughout the summer. It has been such a blessing to be able to spend time with her, just talking, laughing, lifeguarding, and praying together. Her brother, Jon, has also been a fun and encouraging person to be around. Annie and he are very close which probably explains why it has been easy for me to become comfortable with him too.
We had our first batch of campers last week. They were local kids who stayed for only 5 days. We loved them and we miss them.
Hank was probably my favorite camper from last week. He was 13 years old, a goofball who knew how to have fun but was also very polite, respectful and helpful far beyond the typical teenage norm. I loved seeing him make friends with the other boys, offering to help the kitchen lady carry things, holding the door for female counselors, and congratulating his opponents after a sporting event. Both his parents work, so Hank gets up every morning, makes breakfast for his 3 younger siblings, dresses them for school and gets them on the bus before he goes to school himself. At age 13! Wow.

My other favorites were Aston and Josh - two boys whose punk hair cuts, baggy clothes, and manner of speaking would lead you to believe that they are tough kids. In reality, they are marshmallows. The two of them would get up in front of everyone and lead a silly song or pull out their guitars and serenade us all. They participated enthusiastically in all their activities, especially in my frisbee games. A scholarship is awarded to them each year so they can come to camp and each year when we send them back to the rough and tough world that they live in, we pray that they will make it safely to the next summer.
Fun activities with last week's campers included skit night (hence Paul and Mikey's strange get-ups in the above photo), s'mores and stories about throwing tomatoes at people, extreme dodgeball, canoeing through insanely strong currents, kickball, vicious games of soccer where I may have tripped 15 year old Dan five or six times, ultimate frisbee, and capture the flag which resulted in 2 identical sprained ankles on 2 female counselors - as far as I'm concerned, none of the girl counselors are allowed to play capture the flag again this summer.
We sent those kids home after a closing BBQ on Monday and have since refilled camp with a mess of kids from Spain, England, Austria, France and the entire US. It's been wonderful seeing kids from last year, especially my French friends, and getting to know new ones. I think of my Haiti kids every day and wish that they could be here with me. I know that they would be completely overwhelmed, but they would love it too.

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