Category Archives: children

Why I’ve Disappeared

…I’ve decided to apply to become a corps member for Teach for America!

I’ll know by November 1st whether I’ve gotten the job or not, but I’m really crossing my fingers and doing good things to random people who annoy me in hopes of boosting my karma points (I’m sorry for cutting you off with my skateboard, entire USC campus!).

I’ve researched and interviewed just about everyone I can think of in order to find out everything about Teach for America. It seems like the people who know most about the organization tend tend to feel passionately on both sides of the spectrum — some believe it does more harm than good, others believe it’s truly creating progress.

The main criticism that’s been given to me is that a lot of people who apply to be a corps member are doing it for the wrong reasons — they solely want the service work to help them advance in their future careers without actually feeling passionate about children. The corps members take the place of teachers without jobs who are technically more qualified. However, recent studies show that this is not necessarily the case in California.

This criticism does not apply to me. The main reason I want to join the organization is because I miss the little pipsqueaks that I’ve cared for over the past three years. All of my close friends could probably name about five kids I’ve worked with — and I know they get tired of hearing about the funny/interesting things that happen at camp (which to be honest is part of why I’ve created this blog! I can tell as many camp stories as I want and have my enslaved computer  an attentive audience). I’ve mentioned before in the past that I can’t see myself in a career that doesn’t involve working with children, and that’s why going into law right away is not the best decision for me.

I know it will be challenging, but I also know that it will be a rewarding adventure!

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Summer Camp Curiosities – Week 4

I blame the lateness of this post on the fact that a child tried to skewer me like a shish kabob with an arrow.

This past week was my last week of summer camp — and since I will be in Europe next summer, my last week with a lot of my favorite campers for at least a year. Cue the tears. I’ve grown extremely attached to some of the campers because I’ve had a few of them them almost every week throughout the summer for the past three years. You’ll get to meet two of them at the end of the post!

Lanyards made by mostly one camper.

Surf Camp Snippets

“Okay, when the counselors go in… you guys can go in.” My little shredder shoobies sprinted down the shoreline with excited looks on their faces, panting as they lugged the surfboards after them… sometimes dragging them by the leash. They ran into the water and paddled their little bodies into the whitewash.

After a few shrieks, I looked over and saw a few of them clutched their boards like Jack on his log while the Titanic was sinking. They began to drift further and further into the deep water with their eyes wide and panicked.

There were jellyfish everywhere. Dark red in color and about 6 inches to a foot wide in diameter. Some of the tentacles were over a foot long as well!

Jellyfish

One of the black nettle jellybeasts

A few of the braver kids got zapped, and said the stings weren’t too bad — mostly itchy. Thankfully, this put some of the wimpier children at ease. The counselors were stung a bit (including me) and we began to seek revenge on the jellyfish.

At first my friend and fellow counselor and I wrangled the jellies to keep the children a little safer — then it turned into plain entertainment. We built a mass grave to bury the jellyfish in, and some tourists looked at me like I was some sadist, allowing my children to go into the jellyfish fields.

black nettle jellyfish san diego

I shall call you squishy, and squishy shall be mine.

The children who didn’t surf decided to make a hole in the sand called “Sandcrab Sanctuary.” For about three hours, the children divided themselves into diggers, builders, and runners. The diggers dug the hole, the builders built the moat, and the runners scooped up the sandcrabs from the shoreline and dumped them into the Sandcrab Sanctuary.

What the children didn’t realize was that they had built the “Sanctuary” on dry sand… about 20 feet from the waterline. The crabs started dying almost immediately.

The children began to send more and more runners to bring back buckets of water to dump into the sanctuary, hoping to cool off the crabs that were basically cooked alive in the heat and dryness. Every time a bucket of water was dumped into the hole, literally hundreds of sandcrabs would appear and start swimming around, swooshing around and around the hole in a sandcrab fury — you could barely see any water, it was simply a wall of sandcrabs!

I told them that in order for the crabs to survive, they’d need need to transport the crabs back to their original homes. The children took on jobs — runners and rescuers. The runners would get the water to sustain the still alive crabs, the rescuers would scoop them back up and transport them to the shoreline. They hustled as fast as they could, but many sandcrabs did not survive.

As one child put it, “Sandcrab Paradise had turned into Sandcrab Genocide.”

Victim of “Sandcrab Sanctuary”

If you are familiar with my camp and posts, you would know that every day I have a talk with my campers at lunch time that revolves around a certain topic. One of the days I decided to talk about the internet and figure out what my children tend to do on it.

One of the kids, an 11 year old boy, told me that he has a secret Twitter account and a secret dating website.

“Dating website?!?”

“Yeah. I filled out the survey on a dating website and it popped up with four matches! The matches were older than my mom though… Then there was this advertisement with a girl that said ‘This girl wants to be your girlfriend’ and I clicked it. I’m never. clicking. that. again!!!”

Hint, do not search “camgirl ads”

One of the perks of my blog is that with WordPress, you can see what people click on. One morning I was monitoring my stats, and I noticed that someone was clicking on every picture of me (to enlarge it). I didn’t think anything of it…

…until one of my campers came to camp with every single picture of me that he could find printed out. And he was passing them around his friend circle.

Well, I included pictures of other counselors in my Vegas post.

“Is that… MISS DANZA?!!? Oh my GOSH! That’s MISS DANZA!!!… woahhhhhhhhhh!!!”

Miss Danza lookin’ fine.

In our surf camp, we usually have a certain number of surfboards. One day, much to my surprise, we had acquired an extra one that didn’t match any of the others.

Confused, I remembered that there was a man tanning next to our summer camp with a surfboard around the same size and color as the camp’s. My campers had accidentally stolen it!

Thank you for your generous donation to the Y!

Laser Tag Punks

Hands down, this was my favorite week of the entire summer. This camp consisted of about 34 boys and 6 girls — all my favorite age group, and all of my favorite campers.

I guess you could say I get a little competitive, and this week definitely brought out this aspect of myself in a sometimes ugly manner. It didn’t help that the other male counselor was also, equally competitive.

Every morning we’d go to the beach and play a friendly game of dodgeball. The boys LOVED it and were pwning each other like n00bs left and right. Eventually, we had to make two rules

1. Balls to the face don’t count (the person can stay in).
2. Balls to the private region don’t count (the person can stay in).

BUT if you purposely try to get hit there, you’re out.

Every few seconds kids would yell, “HEY!!! NO BALLS TO BALLS!!!” and keel over in pain.

A few moments got a little too competitive, even for me. Especially when the male counselor hit another child in the private region so hard, the child curled up in a fetal position and cried. Another child chipped a tooth, and there was also the moment where all of my children began chanting, “WE WANT BLOOD! WE WANT BLOOD!!!”

A few of the… ahem, less athletic… children were used as distractions/sacrifices. They’d run, crawl, cartwheel, or dance across the field yelling “DISTRACTIOOOOON!” Inevitably, these unfortunate children were always the first ones pegged.

During the second half of the day, we’d play laser tag at Ultrazone.

I now know with conviction that kids play too many violent video games.

The campers separated into three teams, Riptide’s Crew, Bubble Ninjas, and MIBs. The three best players all started off on Riptide’s Crew but were separated because that team happened to beat the other teams by over 10x the points. The Ultrazone lady announced the winners and the top three boys went, “awww mannnn!” and slumped down into their seats. The lady looked confused until I told her that being too good meant they had to be separated.

We went into the arena, guns and vests ready. I took shelter in a bunker and sniped the little pipsqueaks down below.

Then I heard a “help! helllp!”

Five members of the Bubble Ninjas had cornered a small and frail MIB and circled around the MIB Russian Roulette style. When you get shot, your lights on your vest go off for five seconds — you’re disarmed during that time. The MIB had his arms spread against the wall and I never saw his lights turn on.

I heard one of the Bubble Ninjas say, “keep ’em up Mother Trucker if you don’t wanna get pistol whipped.” The Bubble Ninja had his gun cocked sideways like a gangster.

I bolted down to save the MIB and the Bubble Ninjas tried to corner me as well. The MIB looked to me with gratitude and escaped behind me… but not without shooting one of the Bubble Ninjas before he disappeared into the darkness. I saw the MIB raise his small arm and fist bump in the air as he ran away.

After this game, I implemented a no-acting-like-a-gangster rule.

I also made top 10 in the rankings.

So you wanna be in the Bubble Ninjas… do ya?

At lunch time most of the children would relax on plastic chairs and eat their grub. However, a few of the campers spent their time attempting to disgust me to a lost appetite.

One of my campers was eating a neon green Jell-o cup. He said, “Look!” and swallowed his Jell-o in one loud slurp.

Then he regurgitated it back into the cup.

And swallowed it again.

He repeated this process a few times, with each time the Jell-o becoming less and less transparent. It started to turn a murky puce green and had little pepperoni chunks suspended within the Jell-o (he had had a hot pocket during snack time).

I started to feel queasy and told him to stop… He raised his arms in protest, holding the Jell-o cup full of the remnants of his regurgitation show. He brought his arms down, and flung the Jell-o all over an innocent camper trying to relax and enjoy his meal.

Everyone’s faces dropped… the innocent camper sniffed the Jell-o substance splattered all over his legs and asked, “WHAT IS THIS?!”

Not the Jell-O!!!

The Next Legolas

I cringed at my schedule assignment — Archery camp.

Archery children are known for being especially violent and I only recognized a few names on the roster. Oh, great.

Monday comes and I am pleasantly surprised. All of my children seem to be perfect little angels — almost to a creepy extent.

During dodgeball, the children would say, “Ok! I’m throwing it at you now… are you ready? Cover your head!” and warn each other before the pegging began. Sometimes it wasn’t even pegging! Their throws resembled granny shots taken in a basketball game at Disneyland. It was weird for me to see, especially compared to my laser kids. When a child fell and hit his head, about four other campers fled the scene. Typical, I thought. campers darting out of responsibility was not a new sight for me.

Much to my surprise, the four who fled came back carrying ice packs from their lunches to give to the injured child.

By Thursday, I was completely at ease thanks to my nonviolent children.

Which is precisely the state one evil camper wanted me to be in.

We have a rule where if you take your arrow out of the quiver before it’s time to shoot, the arrow gets taken away.

One child was running around with his arrow held high above his head in a clasped fist while yelling, “JAVELIN!” The other children came running to me to tattle. I asked javelin boy to please give me his arrow and that he would probably get it back later.

The boy picked up his arrow (yes, like a javelin) and threw it straight at my chest. It actually hurt a bit!

He was sent home five minutes later.

The next day, javelin boy came back but we made sure to keep our distance. He was behaving and even told me “good job” for shooting the Zombie that we had pinned to the target right in the eye!

You want me on your team for the apocalypse.

A mother who spoke no English came up while we were playing and signaled to her car where her baby was locked inside, windows rolled up. I called the fire department to come unlock the baby from the car.

I told the other counselors that I’d be right back and the children hardly noticed my absence…

…until the firetruck came with the signals blaring.

Apparently the children (who had witnessed the incident the day before) thought that javelin boy had shot me and that I was being taken away!

The counselors and I shot an incident report — a form you fill out when campers get really evil.

Some other notable moments:

A six year old from another camp showed me his fortune teller. Pick a number, any number! I was pleasantly surprised when I was shown number one.

One boy in my camp had a British accent — the other campers thought this was cool and attempted to mimic him. “Ahhr ya gewin tew gah gah pahk?”

“What?” I’d respond, “suck your tongue in your mouth when you talk, I can’t understand you.”

Their British accents sounded like they had all become tongue amputees.

One child then retorted, “well I want to do everything I can to honor London — that’s why I rooted for the British in the Olympics. We need some way to pay the English for giving us Dr. Who!”

Good sportsmanship after a rough game.

I went to the football game of one of my absolute favorite campers and got to sit with one of my other favorite campers, his little brother!

The best company for football a football game I’ve ever had.

Alien eyes!

The older brother scored THREE touchdowns in this game — it also happened to be his first game as quarterback. I was more than proud!

It should also be said that these two are talented at everything! Laser tag, surfing, sports, lanyards, you name it. My future kids have a lot to live up to.

If you liked this, you might want to…
Like my newly created Facebook page (I will virtually jump for joy!)

Or check out my other posts about camp!
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
A Typical Day at Summer Camp

Ambition’s Dilemma

Rewind to 1997 when I was just a little munchkin sitting in my first grade class at a private Christian school. Our teacher asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up. While I don’t remember what the other children specifically said — I know they rattled off a list of things, “I want to be a firefighter, a ninja, a real estate agent, a Jedi, and a dentist!” Each child had a misty, dreamy look in his eyes as he imagined all the possibilities.

As for me, there was only one. I’ve always known I wanted to be an attorney, and an animal rescuer on the side as a hobby. My family fed into this dream, always complimenting what a great lawyer I’d be someday — it didn’t help that my family has quite a few attorneys in it. I’d argue with my grandma about my bedtime, she’d smile and tell me I made a good case for myself, but for now I was just a little pipsqueak who needed to pipe down and get to bed. I was always the kid who knew what she wanted to do and used to smirk at the clueless dreamers. I even got a head start on my animal rescuing hobby by becoming a vegetarian at the age of 10. If I couldn’t save all the flea ridden animals of the world, I could at least refrain from eating them?

Fast forward to a random day this past month when suddenly I was one of those first graders who rattled off a long list of what they wanted to do. I called my dad sobbing. At first it started off with questions like, do I want to do Constitutional law? Specialize in terrorism and genocide? Try to be a D.A.? Then it started spiraling into… do I want to work for the CIA, join the Peace Corp, be a political journalist? The only difference between myself and my first grade classmates during the phone call with my dad was the fact that my eyes weren’t misty with dreams and inspiration — they were bloodshot and swollen with fear.

The fear stemmed from the fact that while I could deal with having interests in different types of law after all — I’d have three years of law school to figure that out, can talk forever about my favorite Constitutional amendments, and recently let out a shriek of joy after being accepted into a rigorous legal writing course — one main passion of mine does not really interact with the legal realm at all.

That is, working with children.

As much as I joke about the daily mishaps that happen at camp, I truly do enjoy working there for the sole reason that the children are incredible.

It all makes sense though — why, as a child, would I ever think, “hey — you know, when I grow out of this age of being under 4 feet tall, obsessed with Barney, and eating Easy Mac cheese powder by itself, I definitely want to work with kids like myself… who are under 4 feet tall, are obsessed with Barney, and eat Easy Mac cheese powder by itself!” That type of insight does not exist in children. It didn’t for me, anyway.

Sometimes I wonder, did I completely miss that key phase in life where you wonder what you want to do with it? Did committing to a career before I had even lost my first baby tooth wire my brain to think this way for good? It feels like everyone goes through phases — most of us go through a rebellious phase, most of us go through an awkward phase, most of us go through a phase where we gain our independence. I hit all of these phases clearly, but did I miss a key one where we gain the ability to be content with not knowing what we want to do?

The problem is, I am interested in so many things. At times it feels like too many things.

I even have this problem of bouncing between obscure interests like they’re going out of style — ultimate frisbee, being raw vegan, becoming a polyphasic sleeper, dog training, and scrapbooking! This aspect of myself has never bothered me.

Not knowing exactly what I want to do with my life, however, does.

I’ve consulted a lot of people and a few songs about this manner, and I feel like it’s given me some peace. I’ve also come to my own conclusion, and maybe this conclusion can apply to you as well. I can now say that I’ve survived my quarter life crisis.

One of my happiest friends, who is facing a similar situation, told me that life is like a portrait — we are looking dead in the center of it, not knowing where to paint next, also not knowing that it will all come together beautifully in the end. It’s so cliche, but it makes so much sense.

Another friend knew something was going haywire in my spastic little brain the second I began to act even slightly upset. She reassured me that I don’t have to decide right away, there are ways of working with children and the law, and that there’s always the possibility of shadowing people who have made this combination work for them. So if you’re stuck between two seemingly unrelated things, I can assure you that there is some way you can make them work — or at least find someone who has.

Then the Wear Sunscreen Song (click here for the lyrics),

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

In the end, it’s much better to be interested and excited about too many things, than interested in nothing at all.

I’ve encountered two paths and it’s somewhat difficult to cope with as I study for my LSAT. Every hour committed to studying is another step down a path I am just now starting to question. Mentally, the other path is an explosion of excitement and uncertainty. I’ll probably continue on my route to law school, and then face the explosion later. Maybe all law school will do will buy me three more years of decision time — I’ve always had a bad habit of procrastinating anyways.

So now I’ll admit… I want to be an attorney, work with children, well traveled, a spy …and a Jedi.

Summer Camp Curiosities — Week 3

I’ve been bad, and have already skipped a week of updating my (supposed to be weekly) camp series. But, this is my blog so I can do whatever I want and break my own rules. And there’s also the small fact that I haven’t acquired enough regular readers to feel too guilty about it… yet!

Last week I ran Splash Camp which is basically a group of 5 to 12 year olds. It may not seem like a huge age span, but it is. You have kids that need help going to the bathroom and kids who want to talk about puberty and have the Bieber-fever (correlation?). Getting these same children to play the same game fairly? Quite difficult. A 12 year old can kick a ball hard enough to lay out a 5 year old and knock out a few baby teeth prematurely.

Despite the creativity it took to entertain all of these children, (shout out to my awesome staff that week!) we had a great time.

One of my campers, a 12 year old, really wanted to Irish dance for the rest of the campers. Part of me was hesitant to comply with this request — she had no idea how short the other children’s attention spans are! The rest of me was ecstatic at the thought of a break from constant planning.

Irish Step-Dancing

The other campers circled around her after she put on her Irish dancing shoes… and clapped as she danced around. The kids LOVED it! It started this huge trend where every child wanted to come up and display their “talents.”

Some notable performances followed.

A boy who is obsessed with The Titanic — literally obsessed sort of bounced around with his legs kept straight and swiveling around randomly. I feared he would topple over and give himself a concussion because he looked as though he was getting electrocuted over and over and over after his body had set into a rigor mortis-like stiffness. He swore that his dance was an exact replica of the dance done in The Titanic… nobody remembers the river dance in Titanic but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Riverdancing Jack and Rose

Next came my favorite duo, two five year old friends who I like to called the “nuggets.” They stepped into the circle and one nugget began to beat-box with his hat tilted sideways, sunscreen streaked all over his face. To the beat of the spitty beat box,  the other nugget began break dancing by spinning around on his rotund little belly. They continued to randomly break dance throughout the rest of the week with unbearable cuteness.

Another girl sang the theme song from Arthur. I smiled nostalgically at the familiar tune but also wondered how such a bad theme song had stuck around for almost 20 years.

Mr. Ratburn still freaks me out

Then there was… the wizz incident.

The bad thing about 5 year olds is they tell you when they have to use the restroom… after they have most likely already used the restroom in their clothing. We went to the beach on Friday and I was beginning to get suspicious after seeing a few children digging holes in an isolated plot of sand within our cone boundaries… soon to be covered up and accompanied by a sewer-like smell.

To the children’s defense, we were over a five minute walk away in the hot desert sand to the gnarly bathrooms. Finally, a few girls told me they had to go to the bathroom NOW, and that it couldn’t wait. A fellow counselor took the girls to the ocean to do their business… when a 5 year old boy catches wind of what’s happening and decides to join.

Before any counselor can stop him, he pulls down his Finding Nemo trunks and begins to go as well. Thankfully a counselor was able to catch him before any other campers caught wind of what was happening… but one girl may have been hit by the stream. May have.

Todos Santos - Frothy Curl

The children put a whole new meaning into roaring waters

One child came running up to me bawling his eyes out. I asked him “what’s wrong?”

“I have….

“I think I have….

He put his little nub fingers up to his face and outlines a circle on his cheek the size of a penny.

“…A SUNBURN!!!!!”

Sunburns are the most frustrating to deal with at camp because I only order a million sunscreen application commands per day. “Okay little dudes! Before we get off the bus/go to the park/go to the bathroom we’re going to put on sunscreen and have a snack! Remember! Your sunscreen is not your snack!”

They resist putting on sunscreen–willing to endure the worst 3rd degree burn in exchange for one minute of laziness. I’ve tried every tactic, smelling them, looking for the shine, nothing was working. Smelling them got weird after one child yelled, “SMELL MY FACE!” and winked at me.

Suddenly, it clicked. I ducked into a corner for a minute and squirted a dollop of sunscreen in my hand.

“Okay campers. If you want to swim you must have your swim dot or your warrior streaks!” The kids lined up and I painted their faces with lines of sunscreen and swim dots… The pastier the kid, the more he or she was warriorfied with sunscreen. They loved it and proudly touted their sunscreened faces. The next day they lined up without prompting, solemnly waiting for their war paint.

Crucified (2)

Homeboy is ready to swim

This week, I had Waterworld Camp — and was able to work with my favorite age group (9-12) because this age generally understands sarcasm and we can move from conversations about whether dogs or cats are fluffier and onto a more existential type of conversation–such as do humans really not remember being a baby? Or was life so boring as a baby that it’s not worth remembering? Obviously riveting and mindblowing discourse takes place when you get to ages 9 and up.

Monday, we went to Knott’s Soak City and my group, named “Not Afraid” went straight to our favorite ride — the “Drop Off”

Red slide on the right is “The Drop Off”

Note: We changed the name to “Riptide’s Crew” after my kids turned bright red because I yelled “Not Afraid group! Gather here!” in front of teenagers — Riptide happens to be my camp nickname…but the five year olds call me “Miss Reptile” -___-

When you go off the Drop Off, you’re instructed to cross your legs and arms. The ride is a vertical slide that bottoms out at the end.

I watch the first camper go down the slide and wince because his legs are completely spread open and there is a stream of water shooting straight up from the force of the water funneled between his legs. He gets to the bottom and is shrieking… after a few seconds of wincing and adjusting his shorts, he waddles over to me in obvious pain.

“That was the biggest wedgie I’ve ever had.”

He catches his breath and a few more children survive the Drop Off.

Then I hear, “WE GOT ANOTHER SPREADER!” Once again, another child has his legs spread to a 45 degree angle and the plume of water is making its way down the slide.

This child too waddles up to me and says, “I haven’t felt that since I was like four!”

I didn’t ask any questions.

He continues, “…when my grandma gave me an enema!”

The elastic had stretched out in his shorts from all the water going through, he had to hold his pants up with both hands. He bonded with the other spreader, they waddled their way together throughout the rest of the day–sharing the aftermath from the experience of the atomic wedgie.

The Pacific Spin, another beloved ride.

We went to the beach and a few of the younger children were staying on shore to build sandcastles. I’d ask if they needed help, they all said no — obviously wanting to work as independent builders. I grew bored of simply watching them while the other kids splashed around in the waves. Every once in a while, a child who had been to Aquarium camp at another company the week would before would come up and show me a molting sand crab, a pregnant sand crab, bubble algae, barnacles…. etc.

I called the children in the sand one by one and asked, “do you know about the secret mission?”

“No…”

“Okay, that’s all I needed to know. Thanks! You can go back and play now!”

“What do you mean secret mission!?” they’d all ask… as their eyes grew wide with interest.

I’d make them pinky swear they’d never say a word to the others about the “secret mission” and began to put each one of them in charge of “different investigations.”

I told one child that there was a secret black market of sand crab dealing going on at camp. Children were sneaking sand crabs back to camp’s ‘home base’ and exchanging them for rare colors of lanyard string.

After I told one child this, I could see his brain working to start putting clues together. He immediately named a child he thought was the dealer — a young brunette girl with big green eyes, because “she really liked lanyard string and her mom won’t buy it for her at Michael’s.”

“That’ll do for now… thanks for your help.”

He walked back to his sandcastle and suspiciously watched the Aquarium camp kid innocently digging up sand crabs from the corner of his eyes.

I continued a similar mission for each child — making each mission different. I need to find the kid who buried my binder, didn’t put the lid on the sunscreen, stole a cone… at random parts throughout the day I’d yell, “Secret investigators! How’s your mission going!?” and they’d put a thumbs up. The older kids looked confused but shrugged it off.

James Bond… or camper?

A few of the campers began to get in a water fight using the water from the cooler. I made a rule that the water fighters couldn’t get more water until they finished the water that was in their bottles. A few of them began chugging their water and asked for a refill… well, they began fighting once again. I yelled, “CHUG!!!” They chugged two more bottles.

The bus came and after ten minutes the boys began to whimper. One screamed, “I NEED TO SQUEEZE MY LEMON!”

We still had twenty minutes left until we got back… Their knuckles began to turn white from clenching the seats.

I stood up at the end of the bus ride and decided to do a few annoucements. I started my speech, “Okkkkayyyy we’re going to go over the best parts of our week and reminisce for a little while!”

The water chuggers screamed in uproar, “YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!!!”

“Anyone want to tell me about their favorite part of Monday?” I asked.

The chuggers were getting seriously angry and started making their way towards me.

I finally let them go, they beelined it to the porto potties at lightning fast speed dropping their backpacks off as they ran. One child almost fell because he turned a sharp corner too fast. A few parents who were waiting for their children laughed at the scene.

Finally, we were talking about good things to come. One 10 year old boy says, “next year… I’m gonna start puberty and it’s gonna be flippin’ awesome!”

What are you looking forward to?

Summer Camp Curiosities – Week 2

This is the second post in my weekly series, Summer Camp Curiosities. Surf camp has sadly come to an end, but the highs (and lows) are now well documented.

If you missed week one, be sure to read it and come back! I’ve also written about a typical day at summer camp.

I love surf camp because we get to be outside all day, the children are pretty fearless, and I get to watch them either get womped by the waves, or catch a ride to shore — both are intensely entertaining. Most common type of wipeout? The nosedive.

Bobby Gorgeous wipes out!

This dog and my campers have a lot in common.

This week I asked the boy campers what they knew about true love, relationships, and dating while we all had lunch in the sand together. In between bites of fruit roll ups, gushers, and sandwiches (literally, their sandwiches are covered in sand), they disclosed their most coveted romance advice to me.

Here’s what they had to say.

On heartbreak and conflict resolution:

The Fruit Ninja, a 10 year old boy who ties his fruit-by-the-foot around his forehead like a headband said, “ladies ruin your life — they’re monstrous!” The Fruit Ninja is the same boy from week one who gave his rationale on why fruit by the foot is better than true love. I’m starting to sense a trend in his beliefs.

Another boy, one who usually gives the counselors a fair share of grief explained, “It’s a cycle. You spend money on the girl, you run out of it, and she leaves. Especially if she likes nice things like shoes. Then you have to go to the bank, get money, get her back, she spends your money, and then she leaves again!”

The Fruit Ninja threw his arms up in the air and exclaimed in agreement, “That’s life people!

Another of their friends, while wearing the spanx-like neon yellow rashguard expressed in frustration (while still chewing food), “I gave a girl puppies, bunnies, and California poppies. She still left me.” Sounds absolutely heartbreaking, right? Don’t worry, he told me he has a back up plan because he’s, “going to try again though but this time with a bulldog — fully grown.

The Fruit Ninja, while somewhat cynical for a 10 year old, had an opinion on relationships based off of real life experience. He explained that, “anything can work out as long as you get married. My dad says my mom tried to dump him ten times but never left because they were married and a divorce is so expensive.

Another boy chimed in, “If a boy doesn’t call you back after three days, dump him. That’s how long it takes to find a new one anyways! Especially if you buy a nice dress and go outside.”

“It’s better than crying in your pillows!” piped up a blonde with freckles.

Since we moved onto the subject of breaking up, one of the sweetest, most timid of children noted with a huge grin spread across his face, “The best place to dump someone is the Wild Animal Park… that way you can push them in the lion pen and watch them get eaten.

The boys began spouting off advice simultaneously, my mind and hand couldn’t keep up (I physically took notes on the matter).

“If you eat too much, the man is gonna leave.”

Guys like crazy girls only if they are confident!”

The woman is always right! In my family, my mom is always right. Especially after the night where my dad ripped all our drawers out of the dresser!

if this old life is done

On obtaining true love:

One boy had a lot to say on this manner — emphasis on a lot. Here’s the sparknotes version of his advice. He’s barely 10 years old and usually keeps to himself for the most part, but has a bubbly disposition and a high pitched giggle. You’ll never catch this camper surfing without his stylish snorkeling goggles — he doesn’t care that they fog up after one minute of heavy paddling, he powers through ensuring that his eyes won’t sting.

  • If you want to find a nice man, go to Paris… that’s the city of love. Whatever you do, do not go to Vegas because that’s the city of (he looks around and whispers) sin.” He looked horrified when I told him that another counselor and I would be going to Las Vegas next weekend… it looks like we won’t be finding true love there! He also told us counselors about his family secret–his mom and dad did something “that only married people do” before they were married, in Vegas. That’s why it’s called the city of sin. (We later found out he meant kissing!)
  • I choose clothes for my mom all the time — it’s a gift because they fit her perfectly. I know that I’ll be good with girls cause I’ll just buy them clothes and tell them how skinny they look.”
  • “Wear the boy’s favorite color at least once every three days.”
Paris... Or something like it.

Eiffel tower in Las Vegas? Loophole! True love can be found — or at least a dysfunctional relationship?

How do you know when things are serious? The Fruit Ninja knows that, “If you fly out of the country together, you might as well be married!” 
Anyone want to fly me to Paris?
One of the more analytic thinkers–a blonde haired, blue eyed, 10 year old with sunscreen smeared across his face and sand stuck into the sunscreen–explained, “If you want a classic date, go to Starbucks, Jamba Juice, or iHop. If you want a fun date, go to Chuck E. Cheese, Knott’s Soak City, or Knott’s Berry Farm. If you want a really really expensive date, go to Outback Steakhouse.

Chuck E. Cheese & I on a date

Another child had a method of testing and expressing true love.”When you get in a relationship, give the man a rose. Promise him you’ll love him as long as the rose is alive and keep replacing it”
A camper across from him shook his head disapprovingly, “Don’t do that, don’t make a deal. It’s awkward and will be like a business!
Rose In Autumn

Symbol of affection? Or strategic business move?

Secrets about men
Men love the lazy river and barbeques.

Something you wouldn’t know about any guy is that he doesn’t change his underpants as often as he should

Only nerdy guys write love letters.”

ryan_gosling_gq_large

Noah the Nerd can write me love letters anytime.

There are some kids in my camp who can be classified as a Little Surfer Socrates. A Little Surfer Socrates is a camper who usually loves to talk the surf lingo, may or may not actually know how to stand on the board, and has many theories about why surfing is rejuvenating. I’m not sure if it’s the aura of the ocean, too much sun exposure, or from inhaling the spray-on sunscreen… but some children simply love to philosophize about what makes the ocean so wonderful.

When I’m in the water it feels like I’m one with the wave when it swoops me up and I ride into the sand and like I’m not even in trouble at home anymore.

They also claim that everything is a “trick.” If they are out of my sight for one minute, they did a vertical snap. If they fall flat on their faces while riding on the board, they meant to do that. If they collide into each other, turning their 10 foot long surfboard into a torpedo, they were trying to have a party wave of course!

Quote from "The Drifter"

This is the perfect picture because it’s a philosophical quote with a foam board and whitewash wave — exactly what my campers ride.

One time… a kid’s favorite starter line.

One time I cut my little sister’s hair off and I got sued… $2.”

One time I ran over a squirrel with my scooter.

One time I went hunting with my uncle and he got stampededed.”

I asked the kids what they would wish for if they could have anything they wanted. Most kids said typical answers like more wishes, money, endless snack stashes. My favorite however is from the boy with the bee sting (featured in last week’s post!) who said with a dreamy look in his eyes…

If I could have anything, I’d have a magical cat named Chester who could cook me a pizza anytime I wanted one and come to camp with me in my backpack!

Grin

Oh look, it’s Chester >:)

The children were gathered around a dead seagull in the water, fascinated by it as it floated back and forth with the tide. About ten minutes later, a boy came up to me laughing and said, “I was so thirsty, I drank some of the ocean water!” (despite the fact he had a full gatorade, and we have a full water cooler…) I asked if he thought it was gross because of the dead bird… he shrugged and said, “broth!

HOPE of FREEDOM

I asked a fellow counselor if he knew anything about investing in the stock market. A camper apparently eavesdropped and came up to me later that day looking very concerned…

Don’t go in the stalk market.” When I asked him why, he said, “my uncle was a stalker and now he’s in jail for following someone into the bathroom.

I bring you to a camper who deserves her own section — for the sake of privacy, I will call her Apple Juice.

Apple Juice is one of the older campers (12), and my small “ALERT ALERT SOMETHING IS OFF” alarm in my head went off the second Apple Juice showed up to camp the first day wearing a belly shirt so short, from the words of a fellow counselor, “it looked like she belonged in the Spice Girls.” If her clothes were dumped in the lost and found, we would most likely assume it was misplaced by a four year old.

We soon found out that her shorts and shirt were a direct correlation to her temper — very, very, short.

One minute she loved us, the next we were her arch nemeses.

On Monday, after a small temper tantrum, Apple Juice decided to tan out on her towel… breaking the rule of “always wear the neon rashguard” (so we can spot the children when they attempt to flee). Another counselor went to casually talk to Apple Juice, and this is where the nickname came about.

Apparently, one time, a small amount of liquid pooled in Apple Juice’s belly button and she had another boy suck the liquid out. Any guesses as to what the liquid was? Yes, apple juice.

At age 12 I had a pot belly, pigtails, and the only sucking of apple juice happening in my life was through a straw out of my Juicy Juice carton. Ahh, the good ol’ days.

I’ve never seen a single episode of The Jersey Shore, but it sounds like a scene that would belong on there. And it sounds like something that might have had something to do with Snooki’s pregnancy… so uncomfortable.

Apple Juice was beginning to make the frat boys at my school look tame.

The next day, Apple Juice and another boy who I lovingly call Mr. Pig (nickname taken from a song we made up together, not a reflection on his body type) were splashing around in the ocean. I look over and see Apple Juice’s fully exposed bottom and Mr. Pig nearby.

I thought, maybe it was an accident? No. I see Apple Juice’s apple about four more times within a 10 minute time span, and other campers and counselors were starting to notice as well — including our bus driver. Apple Juice was purposefully mooning Mr. Pig.

A fellow counselor pulls Apple Juice aside as Mr. Pig raises one eyebrow at me with a smirk plastered across his face.

Mr. Pig had been corrupted.