When you hear the word: “Camp” or “Camping” you might think on many things. For the majority of us it means camping somewhere in the nature, sleeping in tent, or in a big Van, which we use to travel cross the country and discover new places alone or with the family. For some of us camping means hanging out with friends, preparing good food, having cold drinks, lot of fun and telling stories to each other. I haven’t even been before this 2009 experience in a Camp. My parents haven’t been a camping persons, we rather stayed in a hotel or apartment, and generally travelled in a group by bus. Therefore I haven’t had any real experience with camps. I’ve seen some picture on internet, heard stories, however never been in any of those. This changed in Summer 2009.
Therefore when I joined Camp Wayne for Girls in 2009 it was an amazing experience for me. The camp was big with many small houses, surrounded by a huge forest, and equiped with so many things that you couldn’t get bored. That’s actually what the kids needed. When you are a kid what do you need? You need of course food and drinks, safety and entertainment. The food and drinks were our responsibility (cooks, kitchen boys & girls), the safety belonged to the nurses and security, and the entertainment was the main task of the counselors. The counselors were of course girls, mostly between 18 and 24 years old, who were there to prepare and lead the daily activities for the kids. Their Boss was Adena, Matt’s wife. There were two types of counselor positions at Wayne: Group Leaders or Assistant Group Leaders and Specialty Counselors. You might ask what are Specialty Counselors for. Well, they had to possess significant experience in their chosen area. The areas were like, e.g: TEAM SPORTS: Basketball, Softball, Volleyball, Soccer, Lacrosse. INDIVIDUAL SPORTS: Tennis, Gymnastics, Golf. Of course WATERFRONT: Swimming (W.S.I. preferred), Waterskiing, Sailing. As we were in the middle of the forest some of them had to be specialist in OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES: Nature, Ropes Course, Camp Newspaper.
However the camp was not only about sports. We had specialist in FINE & PERFORMING ARTS: Drama, Ceramics (Hand & Wheel), Photography, Videographer, Silkscreen, Drawing & Painting, Batik, Printmaking, Sculpture, Jewelry, Calligraphy, Sewing/Knitting, Guitar, Piano. Except of those there were also OTHER COUNSELOR POSITIONS: Dance & Cheerleading, Aerobics/Fitness, Martial Arts/Self Defense.
The counselors came a few days later then we did, however before kids did arrive, which was the 27th of June if I remember well. All of them were from US, only we kitchen boys and girls came from abroad. As we were supposed to live together in a camp and sometimes interlock/work together as well, we started to get known each other. Mostly they were asking about Europe, the life there, habits and things like it. One particular question I still remember, which one of them asked me: “All European thinks that Americans are stupid?” This was a tough one as in general we really thought that many Americans are not the smartest one’s. Specially if you watch US movies, or talk shows and you see how the react, behave or reply to simple questions. On the other hand you can not put everyone to the same bucket. There are everywhere smart and stupid people. We shouldn’t also forget that the best universities in the World are in the US. Anyway we made new friendships, some fall in love, had relationships and some of us are still in contact with each other.
The camp was not only about the kids. It was about everyone who lived there. Matt & The Management of the Camp took care of that. Before the kids arrived they organized for us some events. We went outside to the cinema, had several times ice creams and once even to play bowling and have some beer as well. Of course when the kids arrived there were no more hangouts with alcohol. The drinking of alcohol and smoking cigarettes were strictly forbidden in the camp due to the kids.
We really enjoyed that. I’m still thankful to Matt who organized and allowed it. It was a overhelming experience to enter a bar in US, play bowling for the first time and enjoy the US hospitality. I specially remember that when I bought alcohol they were asking my ID. In Slovakia almost no-one was checking that back in my high school/college years. In US they’ve checked it already at entrance in some of the pubs. If they did not check it there, then they did it when you wanted to buy beer or any other type of alcohol.
The time was flying really fast. It came to the day, when the kids arrived to the camp. More about that in the next chapter. 😉