Have you ever looked camp right in the eye? These camp counselors have, and they’re here to tell you all about it.
It was the end of the week with my cabin from Hell. Sleepless night after sleepless night from arguments between campers about homesickness and headaches. On the fourth night of camp we went on an overnight. I thought this would be an easy night. We had our dinner, chili and baked potatoes, and closed off the night with stories around the fire before going to bed. The campers in their tent, me in mine. I can finally take a rest. It seems God had other plans though. A torrential hail storm begins over our campsite. We all quickly rushed to shelter, carrying our belongings in our hands. Leadership decided the best option was to sleep in the cabins that night, so we hiked up between bursts and made it to our cabins relatively in one piece.
Damp and safe, my cabin and I went to bed. As per usual, a few hours later, I’m awoken by a camper throwing up. Me and a co-counselor are cleaning when another camper – we’ll call him Camden – asks me, “hey! you wanna see something cool?” entertaining this child as I was trained to do, I accept. Camden reaches deep into his sleeping bag — which he was sleeping in, might I add — and pulls out an unwrapped baked potato. Baffled, I said nothing although my expression was seemingly enough to satisfy Camden as he returned to laying down.
A few days later, the kids are packing to go home. I’m outside sitting on the cabin steps, taking a moment to myself. I’ve slept about four hours in the last two days. The campers are stuffing their things in bags, rushing in and out of the cabin, trying to find things they’ve lost over the week when none other than Camden comes up to me. He says again, “Hey! want to see something cool?” Now, it’s been a few days, I have no idea what Camden’s got in store, so I say yes. What does Camden do but pull on yet another unwrapped baked potato. This one now three days old. That was my last straw. I’m glad they went home the following morning.
This summer I worked as a unit director at a summer camp. Being a unit director means you are responsible for both the campers’ and the problems of the counselors who work under you. It also means that you are the one responsible for cleaning up any bodily excretions found in cabins. I did get a cabin to myself though which was sick.
One night I was trying to sleep in the said private cabin when I sensed my screen door being slowly opened. I turned my head to see a counselor standing in the dark, which was a little terrifying. What was more terrifying was what she told me next, which was that there was human shit all over the floor of her cabin. Since this was literally my job, I got up at 1:00 am and spent the next 45 minutes sweeping, scooping, and bleaching clumps and pools of shit. I did it without vomiting (I came close, but whatever) and went back to bed convinced that the horror was over. It was not.
For like the next two days all the kids in that fucking cabin came to me complaining that shit was on their beds, shoes, and clothes. So I spent the next two days doing load after load of laundry and then had a crying fit on the hill in front of 35 eight-year-old girls. Can’t wait to do it again next year!
I love tantrums. Working with four and five year olds, I was no stranger to these bouts of immaturity, but one day some child was going through it so badly. I was specifically tasked with dealing with him one to one.
He was the grandson of the owner of the camp, all he wanted to do was freely explore like he had done prior to being a camper. I, however, was not going to let nepotism get in the way of the enjoyment of my under minimum wage job.
I expected a short talk that would result in our return to the group. I got screams, crocodile tears, and multiple stare downs that would give a porch pervert a run for his money. Thank god for their lack of agency because I was not folding for anyone!
When I worked at a daycamp as a music and drama specialist, it was like signing my own death sentence, because inevitably the kids most engaged in my shit are the future theater kids of generation alpha. This meant that the worst temper tantrum I ever saw wasn’t someone who didn’t want to do skits or improv or learn the Kidz Bop lyrics of Alright by Pitbull but the future broadway star. The reason? The rest of her team for the mini-play I assigned did not get immersed in their characters enough. Beware future educators of America, because I have been through hell and back and the Hamilton phasers are nowhere near the evils I have witnessed…