August 3, 2014

Today is the last full day at camp and it truly is one of the most bitter-sweet days of my life.  In some ways, I feel I can stay here forever, but I know that I have to go home.  The weather this morning was rainy and the creative director said it was the sky crying because Gwynn and I are leaving tomorrow.  It is a strange mood around camp on the last day, with everyone trying to enjoy every last second left in the session.  And what a crazy, busy, and interesting session this has been!

Like I mentioned in the last post, this session is dance themed, but what I learned later was that it is also about fairy tales.  Since my friends are the leaders of this session, they have included me in different skits, dances, and even leader planning meetings.  This session, I have been a star watcher, cat, queen, African medicine woman, and a little girl-all complete with creative costumes.  Every day brings a new adventure and honestly I like it!  Camp is the only place I can act and play different characters without being seen as completely crazy haha.  This session has been unique in many ways and the whole camp waited in anticipation every day to see what the day would bring.  Everyone by this point is super tired, but I have again been impressed with the creativity, hard work, energy, and spirit I have seen from both counselors and campers.

This afternoon I will officially wrap up my last classes with two groups.  It’s truly hard to believe that two full camp sessions have come and gone by so quickly.  After today, I would have taught almost 90 classes (including the activities I did with the younger kids and teaching baseball).  It is interesting for me to notice the similarities and differences between the groups of kids in both sessions. Praise the Lord the feedback has still been positive and it seems the children are understanding the material!   Another interesting thing I noticed is that the children and some of the counselors classify me as a psychologist and the activities we do in class as psychology games (this might be due to translation). Even though I studied psychology, I never called myself a psychologist because social work is what I have studied the most and the profession I have chosen.  Also, here in America, the activities I do in class would be filed under “diversity” or “team building” games, which in many ways are psych games, but it is interesting that that is the way the kids think about me and the lessons.

Well, here are a number of highlights from this session for me!

• The golf set I had ordered for the camp to help teach the children patience, cooperation, and teamwork, FINALLY arrived at camp!  The younger kids had a blast with it and we even got help from two security guards with setting it up and showing the kids how to play.  The camp director is happy that they can use the set in the snow, which is a legitimate concern since the camp is open year round.

• I mentioned before about my 2 year old roommate and how we were instant friends. Now she calls me “Aunt Shauna” and sometimes crawls next to me on my bed while I am writing or eating a quick snack.  At first, I was concerned that I and my other roommate (besides her mom) would keep her up at night since we came in the room hours after she went to  sleep, but she is hands down the loudest roommate in the room! Haha.  She always gets up first and wants the rest of us to get up too and play with her.  In any other circumstance I would be mad at someone talking loud early in the morning, but I couldn’t do anything but laugh everyday at her cute voice and laugh serving as my alarm clock haha.

• Having tea after the counselor meeting most nights with some of the counselors is always a nice way to end the day.  We talk about camp stuff, our hobbies, American culture, and of course politics.  The table where we have tea is a safe space where we all feel comfortable to talk about our views and opinions about the world.  In light of the crazy politics and havoc going on around the world (and especially between our two countries), it is truly special that we all can talk honestly about our thoughts.  Although my eyes were heavy most nights when we were talking, I never regretted staying up to talk with my friends.

• This session I have been eating all my meals with one table of girls from my group and they are so much fun!  Most of the time we are all eating quietly because we are all hungry, but when we finish, they normally ask me random questions.  One day, we had been waiting to leave the table for awhile and they were getting restless, so I started making funny faces at them and they could not stop laughing! I was laughing with them when they tried to mimic what I was doing.  For some reason they really like when I did a “duck face” pose haha.  Maybe because I have big lips.

• Talking with the executive director’s driver about different types of African American music genres.  He is in a band and he loves talking about music, and his favorite genres are funk, jazz, and gospel.

• The reaction of the kids and counselors when I passed out bracelets again.  I felt like Santa walking around laying out the bracelets for the camp to find at breakfast.  Everyone was so grateful and have been wearing them with pride ever since.

• Other adventures in the city that involved eating lots of food, trip to a sacred Russian Orthodox place in the forest, a Baptist church that happened to be the same church where a missionary couple I met 3 years ago attend, and having tea at the dance studio of one of the leaders for this session.

• Receiving my first “teacher’s apple!”

• Seeing girls around camp with long braids like mine.

• While dressed in my costume as the star watcher, I was asked to do a short zumba routine while my friend recorded it (other counselors who were characters did the same, but with different types of dance).  My mind drew a blank and I just made something up and was laughing the entire time.  That night at the performance when my clip was shown, the whole camp erupted with cheers and laughter, mostly because they were watching my reaction and I was dying from both embarrassment and how hysterical the video was haha.

• Playing a soccer game in a skirt (it was a female counselor vs. female camper game and all the counselors wore skirts haha), scoring my team’s first goal, and our team winning!  It’s an experience playing on a sport’s team where no one spoke good English and I barely know the rules for soccer haha.

• Last night during my group’s discussion about the day, when it was my turn to talk, I surprised everyone and spoke a phrase in Russian.  I had known the phrase for a long time, but I just decided to use it with my group and their reaction was priceless!  They all stared in shock and then started clapping haha.

That’s all for now!  Time to go teach my last classes and enjoy the rest of the day!


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