Summer is almost upon us I can’t help but feel my mind drawn back to my time spent working at a Summer Camp. Don’t get me wrong, I’m too old now and couldn’t last a week never mind 2 months on a rickety old bed and running about every waking hour, but I envy the young folk who are getting ready to do it.
I worked at Wildwood Christian Education and Conference Centre, just outside Cincinnati for 3 summers, and I think the experience played a big part in making me the person I am today. The emotions you feel when at the age of 19 you are in a tent with 5 kids for the first time, you are the one in charge, you are the one with the answers, these emotions can be pretty overwhelming. When secretly you are 3,700 miles away from home (and missing it.) and are facing spiders like you’ve only read about (and as scared as any camper.) and raccoons used to fit in the same category as Unicorns and Yeti.
You’re not allowed to kill the spiders. (it’s not the message we send to kids!) Rabies? What’s rabies, I’m Scottish not French, we don’t do rabies. It’s amazing how quickly you can learn to suppress fear and create the illusion of control. Honestly, take a look at this young idiot, I’d barely trust this fool to cut my grass properly in the summer.
Names, Faces and Talents.
I’ll not lie, I barely remember any campers names, but if I close my eyes I can still summon faces. This leads to their stories, memorable instances or talent show contribution. Some of these faces can still make me smile and some can still make me worry, I don’t think some of the stories I heard from kids will ever leave me or the feeling of helplessness when you realised what some of them were going back to some Friday evenings.
Then Sunday came and another lot of kids arrived and it was your job to entertain, care for and hopefully teach something for the next 6 days. That’s why they paid us the big bucks!!!!!
It certainly wasn’t about money, it was because the kids were special, the place was special and my fellow staff were special. Not to get too sentimental (but hey what is talking about camp meant to be?) I have people I consider brothers and sisters all over the world because of Wildwood, some of the people I worked with have gone on to do remarkable things and some, I’m sure are massive jackasses (none of the Jackasses are my Facebook friends and no Jackasses will read this, honest!) .
Any little noise, smell or word can send me back to camp, I miss the place and I miss the people. But No! I could not do it now, I wouldn’t want to and I think I carry the place with me anyway. But…. given a chance to go into the wayback machine and become the stupid looking 19 year old once again…….. given the chance to push the sun up into the sky for one last week of summer, yeah why not?