Saturday, 22 May 2010

What I do with my summer.

One of my camp friends just posted this on facebook. If any of you wonder what I do with my summer I think this ought to clear it up.

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood there occurs in human development an age which is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable stage known as the camp counselor: a creature undefined by psychologists, often misunderstood by camp directors, worshiped by campers, either admired or doubted by parents and unheard of by the rest of society.

A camp counselor is a rare combination of doctor, lawyer, Indian and chief. She is a competent child psychologist with sophomore textbook as proof. She is an underpaid babysitter with neither a television nor a refrigerator. She is a strict disciplinarian with a twinkle in her eye; a minister to all faiths with questions about her own. She is a referee, a coach, a teacher, and an advisor. She is the example of womanhood in worn out tennis shoes; a sweatshirt two sizes too large, and a hat two sizes too small. She is a humorist in a crisis, a doctor in an emergency, a song leader, an entertainer, and a play director. She is an idol with her head in a cloud of wood smoke and her feet in the mud. She is a comforter in a leaky tent on a cold night, and a pal who has lent someone her last pair of dry socks. She is a teacher of the out-of-doors, knee-deep in poison ivy.

Counselors dislike flag, polar bears, waiting in line, and rainy days. They are fond of sunbathing, teaching new games, an old car named “Henrietta” and days off. They are handy for patching up broken friendships, bloody noses and torn jeans. They are good at locating lost bathing suits, getting rid of spiders, playing “Ye Haw”, and catching frogs. They are poor at crawling out of bed on rainy mornings, remembering to collect dry wood, and getting to bed early.

A counselor is a friendly guide in the middle of a cold dark rainy night on the long winding trail to the bathroom. She is a dynamo on a day off, exhausted the next day but recuperated in time for the next day off. 

Who but a counselor can cure homesickness, air out wet bedding, play 16 games of “WA” in succession, whistle "The Moose Song" through her fingers, carry two packs, speak Pig Latin in French, stand on her hands, sing 37 verses of "3 Magenta Flamingos" and eat four helpings of dinner?

A counselor is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Julie in 10 days, help Maggie reach her full potential, make Heather a new girl, rehabilitate Susan, allow Pam to be an individual, and help Alice adjust to the group. She is expected to lead them in fun and adventure-- even when her head aches and she is bone tired. She’s expected to each them to live in the out-of-doors even though she spends nine months of the year in New York City, London or Boston, teach them ingenious activities--when she can't even spell it, guide them in social adjustment-- when she hasn't even reached the drinking age, ensure safety and health--with a sunburned nose, a band-aid on her thumb and a blister on her heel.

For all this, she is paid enough to buy the next text in psychology, some aspirin, some new socks, two new tires for Henrietta and some new tennis shoes. You wonder how she can stand the pace and the pressure. You wonder if she really knows how much she is worth and somehow, you realize you can never pay her enough when she leaves in August, and she waves good-by and says "See ya next year!" 

Now just to get the visa so I can "see ya next year!" Please. 

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