Packing: The Bane of my Existence

I wanted to put off this topic until it was actually time for me to pack but that would be me putting the pro in procrastinate. Packing. I am so excited to start gearing up for camp, it’s one of the days I am actually looking forward to. Packing is also the day I dread. I am pretty sure I did NOT inherit my mother’s Tetris-like skills that go with putting things into a bag. One week of camp is hard to pack for, but now I have weight restrictions and a bigger bag and I’m packing for 11 weeks rather than just one. I am terrified. So let’s go over my list of advice to me and everyone in my boat.

First things first, make a list of the items you’ll be taking with you. So I’m able to laundry while I’m there so I’m probably gonna take like 8 or 9 days worth of clothing. I can mix and match so I’ll probably get about 15 outfits out of that because everything in my wardrobe basically goes together (jean and black go with most things)! Most people bring 2 pairs of athletic shoes and a pair of sandals. Please for the love of all that is healthy and holy, BRING SHOWER SHOES!!! I cannot stress that enough, do not risk getting a foot infection or fungus. Now, you have your toiletries; if you’re like me and you’re a girl who likes her smelly good stuff and has a hair and face routine then you’ll probably have more than the guys. Just don’t bring your whole bathroom, you’re not going on the next season of The Bachelor, you’re going to summer camp. I’ve been asked this before: Do sunscreen or bug spray go in this category? In my opinion, yes. You will need them everyday and they will be what’s standing between you and the possibility of skin cancer or some mosquito transferred disease. It sounds dramatic, but the people who got skin cancer from overexposure to sun or got sick from a mosquito bite probably thought so too. Okay, here’s the tricky one: bedding. I’ve been to like 4 camps and all of them involved sleeping indoors for 4/5 or 5/6 nights that we were there. I like to bring one set of twin sheets, a blanket, pillow, and sleeping bag. Now having said that, I will be flying across the country so I’ll probably stick with a sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner, and my pillow with an extra pillow case and I can alternate and wash pillowcases and wash the liner every week. Maybe 5 days. We’ll see. Now the fun stuff! You might want to bring a clipboard with some paper and pens or pencils. Anything battery or solar powered is far preferable over anything that needs to plug in. Obviously you’ll want a water bottle and flashlight, that’s like summer camp 101, oh and maybe a hat and sunglasses if you’re somewhere sunny. #Everywhere Last but not least, the thing I forget every year before my mother reminds: TOWELS! I bring a ton of towel stuff. 1 or 2 body towels, 1 hair towel, 1 beach towel, 2 washcloths, it’s crazy. But yes, I do use all of them.

So this is only step two: go over your list. I am not joking. The second and third time I go over my list I usually find 1-4 items I can omit. It comes down to will you die without this item. Step three, you’re gonna go on YouTube and learn how to “ranger roll”. Now you’re probably thinking “oh this chick is crazy if she thinks I’m gonna fold everything military style”, well guess what buttercup! I am crazy; but there is a fine line between crazy and genius and I walk that line almost everyday! I have found that when I roll my clothes instead of folding them, everything magically fits better in my bag. So like any smart person, you should listen to me because I’m camp crazy. Sound logic. Mic Drop.

After you’ve made your list and gone over it, do a mock pack. See how much your bag weighs with everything in it. If it’s a little too heavy you might be able to transfer little extra things and some toiletries into a carry on bag or backpack. Another option that your camp might have is to mail a few things ahead. Don’t go crazy and mail ahead half of your stuff. For example, me. I’m flying there and I really don’t want to deal with TSA at 5 o’clock in the morning so two or three before I leave I’m going to order shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, and a little plastic dresser from Walmart and have them sent directly to camp. So that cuts down on some weight, I’ll have somewhere to put my clothes when I get to camp, TSA doesn’t need to worry because I won’t have huge bottles of soap, and I don’t have to worry about anything leaking in my bag. Now if your bag is way too heavy or you can’t lift it there might need to be some reevaluating. Yeah, you will carry your bag at some point so make sure you can actually carry it without hurting yourself.

Once you’ve gone through all of this, you’re golden. Be ready for camp and get excited! *cue Justin Timberlake, Can’t Stop The Feeling*

19 Days 15 Hours 16 Minutes 35 Seconds

Ah, Post #2!

Well, well, well. Here we are with post #2. For those of you who I promised a Saturday entry to: I am terribly sorry for my tardiness, I was having a great weekend with my dad and three brothers. But here we are and that is the topic for this blog: Family! Now I know you’re all thinking “well my co-counselors and campers are my family while I’m away!” *insert buzzer noise* Wrong! Especially if you’re in my shoes and your mother loves you and your brothers may or may not function without you.

So I actually read up on stuff like this to help me become a better counselor and I have a serious interest in psychology. Like 6% of kids have intense homesickness when they’re at camp. I know that’s basically 6/100 kids but it’s more than zero and the odds are there. I’ve had roughly 40 campers under my direct care as a camp counselor (not all at once, I’ve done this four times) and I have had 2 kids who were on that spectrum of being homesick and VERY shy. Child #1 was an 11 year old girl. Developmentally I believe she was about 6 or 7. The campers arrived on Sunday and she didn’t talk to anyone. She smiled and nodded and shook her head. I noticed she participated but it was half-heartedly. Now skip ahead to Wednesday and she is still not talking. We’re at the point in the day where the girls are getting ready for the pool and snack time. Girl #1 is sitting on her bed in her “Frozen” swimsuit clutching her Queen Elsa plush doll and rereading letters from her mom. I felt really bad because I knew her name and I knew she liked “Frozen” but I had no idea what her voice sounded like. I had tried to talk to her and I tried to get her to join the other girls in conversation but she wouldn’t speak (I even looked at her camper profile to make sure she wasn’t hard of hearing and I was being a complete butthead). That’s when I saw the four words that changed everything: “She Likes To Sing”. Normally I don’t like to listen to what parents write about their kids because camp is where the real kid comes out, but this time the parent knew what they were talking about. Back to the kids getting ready and girl #1 sitting on her bed. I pulled the camp mp3 and the little speaker and turned on “Let It Go”. Sure enough, that child’s head snapped up faster than a rocket on its way to space! Now we have 8 girls jumping around singing and one quiet one smiling at her cabinmates. Right as we get to the good part, we hear a new voice: “LET IT GOOO!! LET IT GOOO!!” She was singing! From then on it was fun, games, songs, and conversation with her! We just had to break down that barrier that was holding her back. Just like when you’re growing flowers, it just takes a little time, patience, and care.

That’s honestly the best example I can give of what to do when your camper is feeling homesick. Don’t force them to have a good time. Let it happen, have fun, be crazy (not overwhelmingly crazy), and create a safe environment for your kiddos. They’ll love you for it and as a former camper that can make or break the decision on wether they come back or not.

Parents should always be encouraged to write to their camper. But NEVER tell them that you miss them, or grandma misses them, or the dog can’t wait until I get back. That could create a sense of guilt. Like “oh, I came to camp so now everyone is sad and they won’t be happy until I get back”. It sounds ludicrous but in the mind of child it is very commonplace. If the camp has a Facebook or a Twitter and they post pictures, let your child know “I saw your pictures and you look like you’re having so much fun!” I remember feeling so brave after my first year of sleep away camp. I was already 12 years old but I was shy and this was new. I knew my mom would miss me and I had a sense my siblings might but I had fun because my mom told me to. She said she was so happy we found this opportunity for me and she really hoped I had fun at camp. Not to mention I was super stoked to be going! Parents can also make sure their young’un is pumped to go. Don’t tell them what to expect because seriously, when does anything ever go as planned? Just help them to the extent of your abilities.

 

Back to last weeks trend: 27 days 10 hours 5 minutes

Awww, My First Entry!

      It’s that time of the year for the adventurous, camp-loving, crazy people like myself. My plane ticket has been purchased, my paperwork is all in order, and the pile of camp related items in my room is getting bigger by the day. Right now my biggest fear is how much my luggage will weigh..! The app I use most frequently is definetly the countdown that is ticking the seconds until my plane is supposed to take off. At this point, that happens to be 1 month 0 days 8 hours 21 minutes and 10 seconds.

      Becoming a camp counselor was honestly the best decision I ever made. When I started at Camp Spike N Wave (SNW) in June 2008, I had no idea how special camp would be to me. I was a scrawny, shy 12 year old who had never been to sleep away camp. I went to SNW two more times before I aged out and moved on to Kamp Kaleidoscope for the next 5 summers. The concept of summer camp and the amazing counselors I’d had (*cough* Jena *cough* Ryan) really made my life and shaped me into the person I am today. Being a camper was probably the second best decision I ever made. That’s why I decided to try being a counselor. I am no longer a scrawny, shy 12 year old; now I’m a not so scrawny, overly confident 21 year old. I am so enthusiastic about camp that I scare my new campers. At the beginning of the week I’m a total freak to some of them and at the end of the week those same ones don’t want to go home. 1 month 0 days 8 hours 12 minutes 45 seconds.

      I’ve been a counselor at Camp Spike N Wave and Camp Brainstorm. To be honest, teenagers scare me so I might wait a while before I try Kamp Kaleidoscope. To the sadness of my co-counselors/first camp family, I will not be returning to SNW this year. I figured it was time for a change of scenery and I will be at Camp Sealth this year. Biggest difference is that SNW is in Burton, TX and Camp Sealth on Vashon Island, WA. Those of you who know me personally probably already know that I was born in Seattle, WA but have lived in Texas since I was barely 6 years old. I can tell people I’m from Seattle all I want but I can’t actually tell you what it’s like to be there. I have very few memories of the early years so this change should be refreshing (I swear that was not a snide reference to the constant rain stereotype that everyone thinks covers Washington State 24/7). I love that Sealth has assigned me a “mentor” to help me figure out my new camp. My mentor’s camp name is “7”. I seriously cannot wait to meet her and the rest of the staff in person. We have a little Facebook group to introduce ourselves and I am in love with the amount of Harry Potter fans that I get to work with! 1 month 0 days 8 hours 1 minute 50 seconds.

      Unfortunately, everyday I wait for camp. It’s the thing I look forward to the most. I’m pretty sure I want camp to come just as much, if not more, than my birthday! So every morning I wake up to see my big duffle bag, my summer wardrobe, my camp bandanas, and my small collection of “Texas” stuff. I really just want to pack and head on to my big adventure! It feels like forever, when in reality it’s only 1 month 7 hours 56 minutes 10 seconds.

-Texas