Posted on 24-Mar-2013
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I'm writing this after spending the entire day trying to think of ways to prank and torment a bunch of young people between the ages of 11 and 15, so any ideas would be appreciated!! Our youth group is planning a camp this weekend, so we've been trying to think up decent pranks to play on the young people, which will of course be respectful of health and safety standards. I'm personally thinking of sticking those small little banger things, which everyone had when they were kids, to the underside of a toilet seat and terrifying them. One year we stuck a whole dorm's luggage to the roof, using Gorilla Tape. Just to point out, this tape is the sort of stuff that NASA might use to fix rockets and hold them together. It's insanely strong. Anyways, the point of that story is that it got me thinking about pranking at camp.
To be honest, pranking at our camp was pretty tame. The lifeguards would occasionally do something a bit daft, like taping a chair to the flagpole or spelling 'Code Brown' with the life jackets, but it wasn't really anything worthy of any serious retelling. However, there was one prank of the most heinous quality and of which myself and my friend (Phil's his name) were subject.
But before I divulge this story, it is necessary to set the scene, in order to give it the proper gravitas and seriousness it deserves. Phil and I had become pretty friendly over the course of camp (this prank occurred just after the halfway mark), during which time he had explained that his favourite animal was a sea turtle. As it turns out, we happened to find two toy sea turtles for sale at Niagara Falls, of all places. Said turtles were subsequently purchased and enjoyed about 2 weeks of blissful existence until disaster struck.
After getting back to camp from an entertaining Walmart trip with a bunch of other staff, during which we played Sardines (much to the store attendants' annoyance), I found what had once been my room, gone. Or more specifically, what had made it my room, gone. In its place: all of Phil's belongings. Everything that was once in his room. Literally everything. Bed sheets, dirty laundry, even the drawers had his clothes in them. Subsequent discussion with Phil revealed that the contents of my room was now neatly residing in his room. So, we quickly made amends and switched our things back to their rightful places. However, after taking an inventory, just to ensure nothing had gone walkabout, we found a most vicious abduction had taken place. The turtles were gone.
I'd like to say that our hunt for these turtles was akin to something that may one day be written down in song, but in reality, our attitude was more, "Meh, we'll get them back before the end of camp." But as the weeks marched on, we began to fret. Neither hide nor tail of the turtles had been seen around camp. But one fateful day, we received a note from a one 'Captain Longshanks' (the pirate who had apparently founded our camp - or so we told the kids).
Said note detailed the reasons behind the abduction and the room switch and, more importantly, where we might find our beloved sea turtles. So after following some directions, written in a pretty poor pirate manner, we arrived at the flagpole, only to find our turtles stuck at the top, where the flag should have been. Actually, it wasn't too tricky to hoik them down from their lofty perch, but we were still at a loss as to who was masquerading behind the alias of Captain Longshanks. And we didn't really care either.
Fast forward to the end of camp, when we finally discovered the culprits. Turns out that it was two female friends, Amy P and Amy H. All credit to them, the prank was excellently delivered and they raised the turtles in true American fashion - saluting the flag, while saying the Pledge of Allegiance. But since then, I've had a whole year to plan terrible vengeance. In the meantime, I need to stock up on Gorilla Tape and those weird banger things.
Hopefully This Will Be Kind Of Useful
Posted on 21-Feb-2013
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So it's been about 2 weeks since the Recruitment Fairs and even longer since I've actually written something so apologies for that. London was great fun to be working at, as well as very cold, but forgetting that, it was awesome to see loads of applicants, hear all the American accents again and getting back into the fun camp mentality and seeing it in loads of the applicants. So, all in all, pretty successful day.
Anyways, the actual point of that wee story is that I met up with a friend from camp afterwards and we were chatting about what camp will be like this summer since we'll both be returners and wondering how the new staff will find it. So it kind of got me thinking about advice for new counsellors and the stuff I picked up from my first summer. So read on if you want but apologies if it starts sounding patronising (I'll try my best to make sure it isn't) and if it is, then I'm sure you'll have the good sense to stop reading. So here goes.
There's a good chance you'll be terrified coming up to your flight and during your first couple of days. But don't worry. Everyone is. Even returning staff. Even American returning staff. I was terrified on my first day and planning ways to get home. But then you relax and you get into the swing of things and you forgot all that.
Look after yourself. That sounds a bit odd but what I mean is kind of getting enough sleep, eating enough, all that sort of stuff. I know it sounds a bit molly-coddly but you've got to have enough energy and be in great form to do your job. Cause you'll ALWAYS be tired. Not exhausted. Just tired. My example: my co-counsellor and I were chatting just before going to bed. So, by the time it had taken him to turn around, put some toothpaste on his toothbrush (he was still talking to me) and turn back round to face me, I had fallen asleep. I later woke up at 2am, still fully clothed, pretty cold and uncomfortable.
Don't be afraid to look like an idiot. I think I may have said that before but it's worth saying again. You'll actually look more out of place if you're not doing something daft to amuse the kids. And don't worry if you're a bit shy - that'll soon change at camp as well as the CA Orientation Days, which tell you all about that - well mine did. So don't be afraid to look stupid. I was thrown in the lake by a pirate, mugged by a supervillain, had to stick feathers to myself to become a parrot and became a human climbing frame for the kids and there's loads of other things.
Enjoy your time off. Even if you're the most dedicated, incredible, perfect counsellor ever, you'll need to get away from the kids and get your head showered. You spend 24 hours of your day with them, so when you get the chance to chill for a bit, take it. You don't actually realise how much you appreciate that time off until you're actually at camp. Lake jumping, taking boats out, volleyball were some of things we ended up doing on our days off. Oh, and pranking each other, but that's for another time.
Last point of advice. Enjoy yourself. Very cliché but it is true. Working at camp is one of the craziest and toughest jobs you'll have (it's annoying when people say you were on holiday in America for 2 months) but also one of the most enjoyable. I'm not really sure how else to explain that but hopefully you get what I mean. You'll definitely understand it when you get to camp.
Anyways, hope that some of that was helpful, apologies if any of it was patronising, if you've got questions feel free to holler, good luck to anyone who's still applying or circulating and hopefully I'll see some of you at my camp this summer!!
Couldn't Come Up With A Decent Title For This One
Posted on 22-Jan-2013
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So it's been a while since I've actually written anything, what with Christmas shenanigans and the incomparable fun of exam season (good luck to anyone who's in the middle of them by the way). True to typical male form, I managed to buy all my Christmas presents in one day, a feat I was quite proud of in all honesty. In my defence, I got into that situation due to an honest mistake. I'd thought that Christmas was on the Saturday, not the Tuesday, meaning I thought I had a good 5 days to get all the absolutely necessary presents. Presents for cousins and those kinds of relatives, I could probably get away with giving them to the recipients a bit after Christmas, but I figured I should at least have something to give my parents and brother and sister on Christmas Day. So, it was with a good deal of shock and cursing my own incompetence, when on the 22nd, I realised that Christmas was a couple of days away. Wasn't helped by my friend patronisingly pointing out that Christmas is on the 25th every year.
On the flip side, my friends and Santa had obviously put a lot of forethought into my presents because I now have a plethora of American candy (as well as the obligatory Cadbury Selection box and a box of Harry Potter Peppermint Toads oddly) stockpiled in my room, needing to be eaten. When I say stockpile I mean enough candy to make a decent attempt at surviving for a couple more months, had the world actually ended in 2012. With sensible rationing of course.
So now that Christmas and exams are over, time to chill and look forward to the next couple of months. Specifically, the Camp America Recruitment Fairs!! So if you're still considering an awesome summer job in America but haven't quite got round to applying or just aren't sure, make a spur of the moment decision and get yourself down to London, up to Edinburgh or get to Manchester somehow cause that's somewhere in the middle. Well, it is relative to where I am. And when you get there, get yourself hired on the spot. Not that I can really say much, I've never actually been to one of the fairs, but they do sound awesome.
Ok, I know that sounds pretty hypocritical, telling you to go to something I've never actually been to myself, but the only reason I haven't been is because I finished applying after them last year!! So, I've got a decent excuse at least. From what I've picked up, there's bunch of camp directors from loads of the different camps (by the way, the camp directors have class personalities and are great craic - they have to be if they're in charge of the camp) and a whole pile of people who want to get recruited!! So that combo gives you the chance to be recruited on the spot, which is pretty sweet, and the craic is bound to be mighty. I can't wait!! It'll be awesome!!
Oh, if you're interested, try and find the video of the London office staff doing the Cup Song (YouTube or the Facebook page). Pretty impressive. And there's a mention of it being done at the fairs. I'm going to make it my mission to do it as much as possible. Although, I'm nowhere near as good as the London staff. I actually managed to break a plastic cup I dropped it that much so it should be interesting.
So, hopefully, by the next time I'm writing this and any of you are reading this, a whole lot more people will have been recruited at the fair, done their interviews or will be well on their way to being placed. Actually!! Some of you may end up coming to the same camp as me!! Sweet!!
The Naivety and Foolishness of a Student
Posted on 2-Dec-2012
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I found myself in a bit of a crisis this week but thankfully it's now been amended. Woke up yesterday morning to find myself without any advent calendar to open. Serious problem. So this misdemeanour was quickly made known to everyone who would listen to me. Specifically my parents. Despite my best intentions to show them that I am becoming a mature, independent young student this didn't stop my continuous appeals to their better nature to get me an advent calendar. Childish and spoilt I know, but totally worth it. Said calendar was presented that evening much to my delight and much to my parents' despair at my childishness.
So I'm now officially counting down to Christmas as well as camp. Sadly I don't have any calendar for camp but it would be pretty awesome to get a Hershey's Kiss or some kind of American candy every day until June. During my own failed ventures to find an advent calendar this week I did happen across what can only be described as a treasure trove shop of American candy - City Picnic (just off Royal Avenue in Belfast if you're interested). I'd heard of this great place thanks to the CA Twitter (CampAmerica69 - go follow it) and the photo Nicky and Katy from the London office had put up, when they'd come over for a wee jaunt to Northern Ireland, but actually finding it really was quite momentous.
This discovery came about due to my own stupid decision to accompany my friend into the city centre, under the naive belief she was only "looking for one thing". In fairness, my own foolishness warranted what I was then put through, but safe to say I have learnt my lesson. After multiple shops and awkwardly waiting around for my friend to try things on (as a side note, why are all changing rooms in women's shops right beside the lingerie??!! I think it's a deliberate ploy by women to make men feel awkward while they wait) and then being asked for my own critical opinion, the "one thing" was finally located. Said item was purchased, quickly followed by my own swift departure, leaving my friend to make her own leisurely way out of the shop, browsing along the way.
So after putting distance between ourselves and any sort of dress selling shop as fast as humanly possible, before she could change her mind, we ended up walking past City Picnic. Although I had been aware of its existence beforehand, my exclamation of, "CITY PICNIC!!" did, however shock my friend and the old woman who just so happened to be walking past me at the time. But my happiness eclipsed any embarrassment I may have felt at the time, so we duly entered what was now Utopia in my opinion.
What greeted us was shelf upon shelf of everything from Hershey's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Cow Tails, Pop Tarts and 3 Musketeers. I won't explain what any of these are, just recommend that you try all of them when you get to the States. Even cereal was included oddly enough. All at extortionist prices of course. My pointing out this did attract an angry look from one of the store attendants so we quickly left. But I'll definitely be making multiple return visits for some genuine American candy, hopefully without startling any OAPs and definitely without succumbing to any stupid belief that a girl is telling the truth when she says, "I know exactly what I'm looking for and where it is."
Oppa Hogwarts Style!!
Posted on 18-Nov-2012
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As a forewarning, there'll be a distinct Harry Potter theme in this entry - hence the cringe worthy title and I've just heard Gangnam style - so if you're not Potter inclined feel free to not read on. But hopefully it'll give you a bit of insight into camp life anyways.
So I'm starting to get over my previous withdrawal of not being in the States. Keeping yourself busy and all that but I'm still pretty 'longful' of America. But there has been an exciting development!! I've found out that I'm going back to camp 2 weeks ago but now it's officially confirmed that I'm going back with two friends from camp!! So it's the Three Amigos again. The 3 Musketeers. Harry, Ron and Hermione. Simba, Timone and Pumba. Whatever kind of trio analogy you prefer.
Anyways, camp life insight time!! During my third week at camp, so pretty early on, I ended being assigned to one of the drama teaching groups with some of the other staff. Now my acting skills are pretty thin on the ground and I'm certainly no Sir Michael Caine when it comes to smooth performances but we just got on with it!! So we decided we should show the kids that you had to be dramatic and come out of your shell when you're doing drama so you can enjoy yourself - simple enough task. Except that kids are very excitable.
When kids see their counsellors jumping on a stage with twigs they've picked up from the ground, starting to have a Harry Potter wizard duel and shouting Expelliarmus all over the show, they think it's a great idea to start doing the same. Not our cleverest collective staff idea but it certainly got our point across. So the kids started enjoying drama and really got into it. But the Harry Potter wizard duels stuck.
Over the course of the summer, it became a pretty common site to see counsellors and other staff members bellowing spells across camp at each other and to see people diving to the floor so they wouldn't get Avada Kedavra-ed. Weird but it certainly made the kids love you more. And then, because you're an international staff member, they'll believe you if you say you go to Hogwarts (honestly the campers believe anything), which makes them love you even more. Great way to get them to obey you!!
Hopefully that's given you some insight into camp life. You'll have to do really daft things but the kids love you for it and it is pretty fun in all honesty. A "pirate" threw me into the lake for the kids' entertainment once!! But it's not all hard work!! You do have great craic with the other staff members and days off are hilarious!! But more of that at some later point. For now, I've got three assignments awaiting me. Hope everyones' applications are going brilliantly, you're circulating or you've been placed!!
Bungee jumping intentions among other musings
Posted on 7-Nov-2012
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So I'm writing my first Camp America blog after having the best summer of my life but oddly I'm not sure what to write about. Can't say I expected to hit Writer's Block this early on when I've done nothing but go on about Camp America to my friends since I got home, to the point they're ready to kill me, but I'm sure I'll manage to go on about something. And yes, the name of my blog is kind of taken from a line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, although, it's only because I just saw the movie (which is incidentally very good) and couldn't come up with an original name of my own.
I suppose a major talking point is the fact I'm no longer circulating, so I'm officially going back to camp next year!! I genuinely do feel for everyone who's still circulating!! It's hateful!! Now simply to find the monies to pay for another summer, alas, the problems of being a poor student. Although, I'm sure the good old student loan could cover it. But the downside is that now I have a whole lot of months to kill until I get to go back to America!!
So, top priority now is to find a way to entertain myself until June time. Suggestions are welcome but so far I've thought of skydiving and helping out at Camp America events, which gives me some small dosage of American-ness. How sweet would it be if you could be a skydiving trainer at camp??!! The skydiving idea came from some sort of bungee jump-esque thing my friend and I discovered over the summer (if you're interested YouTube "Skycoaster Darien Lake"). Great craic!! And we've found an actual bungee jump in Florida for next summer, so that's definitely on the agenda for post-camp travel.
The attempts to try and avoid reminiscing about camp have just been shattered: Dodgeball's just come on TV. Seriously one of the best games we ever got to play at camp. Particularly when it was Staff v Campers Dodgeball. Actually, the first time we ever played it, I ended up hitting a camper in the face. Not sure whether this means my aim is incredible or pretty poor but certainly wasn't one of my stronger points as a counsellor. It did make for a great story to tell when I got home though.
Well, kind of running out of stuff to write about now, unless I give a blow-by-blow account of the summer but that's maybe for another time, and I'm starting to get pretty waffly. Anyways, there's a serious cup of tea beckoning now, but suggestions are definitely welcome for how to distract myself from thinking about camp for the next clatter of months!! Hope everyone's applications at going great and if you're still ummming and ahhhing about doing Camp America... DO IT!!!