a blast from my camp counselor past

Date January 26, 2009

We had a lock in for the kids that participate in Destination Imagination, a program that encourages creative and critical thinking and lots of teamwork, on Friday night.  The idea of the lock in was to provide workshops on different aspects of the program and to build a sense of unity among the teams.

For me it was a time to shed my teacher attire and jump head first into the camp counselor role that I miss so much.  I ran two workshops, one on choreography and team songs and another on improv acting skills.  The kids were classic and hysterical and I had a blast watching them act, dance, and mime their way through each rotation.

Alhough I tried not to be partial, I couldn’t help but adore my team– The Peanut Butter Boom– the most.

There are seven of them, four girls and three boys, all bursting with personality.  Two fifth grade boys in particular are real hams.  They quickly adopted a “gangsta” theme and pimp limped all over the campus while simutaneously rapping their newly pinned team rhyme.  The girls struck street wise model poses and wore big earrings as they sashayed through the corridors and I joined the hip swanging action and tried to keep a straight face.

By 11:30 we were back in my classroom digging out toothbrushes and trying not to die of giggle fits as Pablo, hard core gangsta fifth grader, pulled out his Little Mermaid sleeping bag and Eduardo “Brush ‘Em Off” Toro, donned his cow pajamas.

We finally got settled in and turned the lights off.  There were mysterious barking frogs in the night and stifled laughs beneath Ariel’s red, flowing hair and then there was a whisper.

“Miss? Can we talk about girls in Spanish?”

I laughed out loud at the request knowing that I constantly say, “BOYS!  Speak in ENGLISH!” and then whispered “Oh, I guess so, you big nerds.”  And before I’d gotten the word “nerds” completely finished off, there were a crowd of pearly white teeth and pigtails around me.

I laid there on my sleeping bag listening to them talk and answering questions about boys and girls and hand holding until after 1:00 a.m. and I thought about them and their questions for hours after that.

Kids are the same in every country, I’ve decided.  Sure, they’re different in ways and languages, but their insecurities and curiosities are identical.  They all want to be loved and popular.  They want their friends to laugh at their jokes and to be invited to birthday parties and they want the girls in the classroom next door to notice them and I can understand that.

I think I’m like that, too.  Maybe we all are.

Either way, I’m glad I stayed up all night and ate pizza and made up secret handshakes and terrible raps and I’m glad that those Colombian kids trust me enough to scoot up close and tell me their secrets when they know that their friends are listening.

And for some reason, the fact that fifth graders flirt doesn’t bother me so much today.

3 Responses to “a blast from my camp counselor past”

  1. Summer said:

    Great post, Emily! The last lock in I did was for student council in high school. Reading your post brought back so many memories. And made me envious I’m teaching college kids instead of elementary students. Glad to hear you’re making so many wonderful memories and friends!

  2. Lou said:

    Sounds like you had a very fun weekend full of memory making and heart touching. Cherish them all and etch them in your mind.

  3. Kylie said:

    That brought back so many memories of Summer Camp days!! Oh ow i miss the outdoor fun, stupid back injury! Maybe one day God will heal me totally and i’ll be able to enjoy those fun times again.