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Milky Hill Magic Way

          When I say Milky, you say Way! Milky! Way! Milky! Way! When I say number, you say one! Number! One! Number! One! Milky, Milky! Way, Way! Number, Number! One, One! Milky Way is number one!

Magic, Magic, Magic Hill! Magic, Magic, Magic Hill! We’ll beat you at anything 25-nill! We’ll beat you at anything 25-nill! We’re rough neck campers and we do what we like! We’re rough neck campers and we do what we like! And if you don’t like it you can take a hike! And if you don’t like it you can take a hike! Magic! Magic! Magic! Magic! HIIIIIILLLLLLLL!

What great unit songs- I loved being in the Milky Way/Magic Hill Unit! The featured picture is most of us, but not all. Who’s in that picture? Paradiddle, Pan, Goo, Pope, Tyr, Skittles, Gemini, Yarn, Happy, Texas (ME!), Pippin, Huckleberry, and Gumby. Yep, that’s most of the group. It wasn’t strictly us running MW/MH all summer. To be brutally honest, I don’t know how far we would have made it without our awesome Unit Leader: Smiles. As you know from my previous post I wasn’t always in my home unit. Sometimes you’d run into things like so-and-so is taking a week off or these parents want their son to have a male counselor so we’d have to switch things up. We had a lot of counselors and staff take a week or two at counseling other units. 

Also on staff, we had the LEADS! Seriously some of the coolest teens I’ve met in a while. I had one LEAD this summer and his name was Narwhal. This guy was such a hard worker and I know one day (very soon) he will be a fantastic Milky/Magic counselor. dreamteamActually, I’m sure he’d be great in whatever unit he thinks he belongs in (even though it’s totally Milky/Magic). I believe Narwhal and I were paired up during session 2 (?). Two words you guys: Dream Team. Our Milky Way cabin was too cool! We had a great group of kids and I think the counselor/LEAD pairing couldn’t have worked better. Though, when sharing memories at Council Fire, one of our campers said, “I’m in Narwhal… um… oh, and Texas’ cabin,” and the second camper said, “I’m in Narwhal’s cabin,” like what was that?! I told them to say “I’m in Texas and Narwhal’s cabin” and then say their favorite memory. I guess Narwhal was just SO cool that they forgot about Mama Texas! According to a handful of people who have spoken with him, Narwhal says I’m pretty awesome. That’s an understatement- at least three people have used that exact words “He will not shut up about how amazing you are”. *hair flip* Thanks Narwhal.

#TexWhal 4 Life

This summer I also had 2 CIT’s live in with my cabin. Boat was a natural! If I remember correctly, every time she wasn’t with us, all I heard from our kids was “Where’s Boat?” and “When’s Boat coming back?” I was so lucky to have her! That was also a great week- us and our tater tots. #Toat’sTots After Boat, I had Big Mosquito. I wish I could’ve gotten more time to work with him. It was a short session and he definitely had a spark of potential in the less than 48 hours I got to work with him. He reminded me of me when I was new to my first summer camp. Quiet, treading carefully, and always holding my sudoku book. Yeah, he is so me before I opened up as the crazy, loud counselor I am now! #TexasMosquitos

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I’m Still Alive

It’s been about 10.5 weeks since I last updated y’all on my time at camp. Might I just start out by saying, it has been a great summer! At the risk of sounding like a broken record: my camp name is “Texas”. I guess a good amount of people were surprised to meet “Texas”, the non-conservative, non-republican, all inclusive individual. Stereotypes… don’t ya just love ’em!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Camp Sealth, the age groups are broken into units. The female-identified are (from youngest to oldest) Misty Mountain, Blueberry Hill, Village North, and Horizon. The male-identified are Milky Way, Magic Hill, Village South, and Horizon. There’s also the horseback riding camp (Wrangler), the waterfront camp (Kiwanis), and there’s one more… what is-oh right, Day Camp, how could one possibly forget Day Camp? I’m just  kidding, I loved the day kids! My home unit was Milky Way/Magic Hill; or as we called it: “Milky Hill Magic Way”. Funny enough, I spent four weeks in Milky Way, two weeks in Magic Hill, one in Wrangler, and one in Day Camp. Every single one was fantastic! Don’t get me wrong, some weeks were pretty trying- but let’s be honest: whose job hasn’t been at some point? Every week I got a new group of kiddos and each was as interesting as the next.

It was quite an experience being a counselor for younger boys. The question often arose: “Is it difficult being a female counselor in a boys unit?” Well, heck yeah it was! I couldn’t use the same bathroom, supervising shower times was interesting, and these young’uns had a ton more energy than I did! But did they treat me any different because I am a female? Absolutely not! More than 50% of my kids this summer were male-identified campers 3rd-5th grade. It was pretty amusing because they had the biggest imaginations and said the darndest things. I’m positive most weeks they didn’t notice I was a woman until Candlelight Dinner at the end of session when I wore a skirt and bit of makeup with my hair down. During the week, these kids saw me in shorts and a t-shirt kicking a soccer ball, playing in the sand at dam building, eating grasshoppers at wilderness survival, and being the Milky Way hype-man in the gaga ball pit! I was a “cool version of one of them” (quoting a camper). But when it came to meal times, bedtime, life lesson moments, and doing first aid, I was their mom. They stacked their dishes and wiped their table; even though someone else would clean it after we left. I enforced respect, teamwork, and manners with my campers.  According to many of my co-counselors, I’m quite a “mama-bear” and I’m “too nice sometimes”. I honestly just thought I was being a good counselor, but apparently sleeping on the floor next to your campers bed so “the monsters won’t get him” is another level of counselor. But me being me, the Milky/Magic staff voted me “Unit Mom” at the end of summer. Thanks you guys… I appreciate it.

I’ve made some great friends this summer. Pan, Pippin, Skittles, Happy, Smiles, Twix, Sedona- to name a few from my home unit. We’re from all over too! Kiwi from New Zealand, Hedwig and Red from England, Woody from Northern Ireland, Soccer from Germany, I could go on and on! I think the fact that we’re such a diverse staff makes the camp experience even more amazing for our campers!

I will definitely be posting a memoirs and pictures section soon! You can’t summarize one summer in one post. Especially when you’ve had one as amazing as mine. Until the next post,

Texas

a.k.a. “Tejas”

a.k.a. “Mama”

a.k.a. “Kansas”

Flying places… Yikes…

Good morning everyone! Well, at least I hope it’s going good for you. Customer Service is not a place you want to be at 4:30am, but apparently airline supervisors make things happen. This morning has been quite the learning experience. I learned that the airport is basically empty when you arrive at 4-something in the morning, if the lady has big hair she is bound to be a little rude (4 for 4 today), and checking baggage is a pain in the neck. You HAVE to use ONE card to pay for your baggage fee. There are no other options because that would be too easy. But it might just be this airline. I’ve never had a problem with Southwest so note to self: fly home on SW. Today, I’m flying with a certain airline that has had a PR disaster or 3 quite recently. I was a little hesitant about flying today. But I just need to keep an open mind when flying. 

Okay, now I’ve landed in San Francisco, CA! It is absolutely beautiful here! Blue skies, 68 degrees, sunny, and mountains outside almost every window! The airport isn’t bad either. The people are definitely nicer but that could have something to do with the lack of heat and the time not being 4am.

When I got off the plane, I went over to the flight information board to make sure I was going to the right place. Seattle/Tacoma. 9:45am. Flight 618. Gate 89. Lazy, tired me of course is dreading having to walk to the other side of the airport to wait for 2 hours. So I get to gate 89 and just to make sure, I check the flight info board again. Well, it’s a good thing I’m slightly paranoid when I’m by myself! Seattle/Tacoma. 9:45am. Flight 618. Gate 69! So lazy me is getting angry, but paranoid me says to go ask someone (so did my dad, we were talking when I found this out). So I meander on over to the Airline Customer Service desk and told the nice lady (who didn’t have big hair) what had happened. She looked it up and said “Oh yes sweetie, they changed it last minute,” and told me where to go. So technically I didn’t get lost. I still have a good 30 minutes before we start boarding.

Gettin’ Thrifty for Camp!

Like many people I know, I try to avoid spending a whole lot of money on clothing. It tears, it gets stained, and definitely won’t last you forever. So why spend so much? This is where my favorite place comes into play… the second hand palace: Thrift City! Yes, my favorite store is the thrift shop five minutes from my house. I could look around in there all day! Clothes, shoes, books, movies, music- you name it! It’s my one stop shop!

Like I said, clothes get ruined, it happens everyday. Now that possibility comes up every time you set foot into a summer camp. Every camp packing list I’ve ever received has stated to bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and at least one shirt you don’t mind getting stained. Usually the stain comment means we’re going to have a paint war or something along those lines. One year we played capture the flag in a giant mud pit! When this scenario comes up, getting discounted and/or used clothing just seems highly preferable over buying a new shirt specifically to get ruined.

Another reason to take advantage of thrift shops is the prices! The definition of thrift is “the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully”. For example: Just today I meandered on over to Thrift City with my family and found some good stuff. I needed to get a Hawaiian shirt and a cat shirt to bring with me and if I found something else that’s dandy too. Now I didn’t find a cat shirt (but those are like $5 at Walmart so it’s no biggie), but I got a really ugly, floral Hawaiian shirt for $2.99 (versus the at least $10 someone paid for it originally). When I go to a place like this I can’t just buy one shirt so I also bought a cute little black dress to wear when I do my thing as a Mary Kay Consultant. $7.99 you guys! Oh, did I mention the Reebok swimsuit I got for camp? $125 on Everythingbutwater.com and $109.95 at Walmart.com; I got it for $5.99 . I’m a poor college student so why not take advantage of second hand things that are in great condition? It just seems silly not to.

Some of us cool counselors bring costumes to camp and don’t have a reason to keep them so we donate them afterwards. Well, the amount of clothes from the 80’s and 90’s that you can find at a thrift store (like my ugly floral shirt) is amazing! Anything you could possibly need can probably be found second hand. I am proud to be a thrifty shopper, but you don’t have to tell people where you got the clothes if that’s what keeps you happy. Make an afternoon to go to your local thrift shop. At mine, there’s clothes, sleeping bags, athletic shoes, and even decent luggage! Don’t drain your bank account for camp; as dedicated as that seems, it’s really not a good idea. Like Macklemore said in Thrift Shop: “Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain…”

 

5 days, 14 hours, 50 minutes, and 45 seconds until I fly to Seattle!

Camp Nightmares: Hormones & Hygiene

Having worked with pre-teens (and having been one myself), I can tell you that those teen hormones can be a nightmare at camp! I’m not too sure how the boys fared in their cabins, but the girls were interesting. They are interested in boys, puberty is starting *shudder*, and they have questions they think they can get away with because mom and dad aren’t there to shush them. Well get ready counselors of teens and tweens, you’re in for an adventure.

I’ve been asked just about every question from What’s it like to kiss a boy? to Why do we have periods? to When will I get my boobs? It’s definitely awkward to get these types of questions from your campers but you can avoid the question (which I don’t recommend, it’ll only make them more curious) or you can give some creative alternate answer. For example: the question about kissing. My response was: “Well, I don’t know; boys are kinda gross.” With the internet so absolutely available to everyone, these kids know a lot more than I did at their age. Unfortunately, they are less gullible too; so if you keep giving them these crazy answers they usually stop.

The thing I really don’t like dealing with is definitely camp crushes. In the 8 year olds, it’s kinda cute but you still need to stop the cheek kissing attempts. With the tweens it’s a little different. They have teen hormones raging through their little bodies and it’s terrifying! Every once in a while these little ones have been known to develop little crushes on their counselors and fellow campers. As the guys are sometimes oblivious to it, obvious signs are the kids wanting to hold your hand, getting clingy, or wanting to talk to you ALL OF THE TIME. Yes, I’ve even had boys do the same thing to female counselors. It’s a bit unsettling, actually it’s really unsettling. So really be sure the kids know their boundaries, even if you have to spell it out for them. If you do need to let them know, be sure you pull them aside and have at least one other staff member help you.

So this one is for the girls. Guys you can skip this paragraph or you can read it, it’s up to you. It’s fairly easy when it’s questions about things like shampooing your oily hair or washing your oily face. When it’s things like periods or their bodies it’s a little bit… meh. I had a camper one year who, poor thing, started her very first period at camp. We had to explain that it was just her body growing up and it happens to almost every girl and that she needs to tell her mom privately after camp. After getting over the initial shock of seeing the blood, it was easy, she realized it was just a thing she needed to deal with. Being the prepared counselor I am, I had what she needed but so did the infirmary. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your camper about these things, simply ask your supervisor or whoever is above you in the chain of command to come help. You may even be able to get your camp nurse or med staff to do it.

Here you go boys; girls you can skip this if you want. I have three younger brothers, two of them are on the autism spectrum so you kinda have to help them out so I have an idea of what you might be dealing with. Sometimes, or usually, the hormones hit the boys a little harder than the girls. You should know exactly what I’m talking about. “Urges”. I know a counselor who had a problem with a camper trying to… well… suppress his in the bathrooms. It could happen, just know: It’s not a big deal. Let them know it’s great they did it in private, but it’s not entirely appropriate for camp. Less awkward things you may have to deal with are body odor. Please let your camper know if they need to apply more deodorant but don’t go crazy with the Axe spray!

I know the topics I covered here are a little taboo and weird to even think about, but think back to when you were 11. You’d probably appreciate the help. Being a counselor is being a good role model which means demonstrating good hygiene. You don’t need to put on deodorant in front of them or make them watch you clean your ears, but be sure you show something. Brush your teeth with them, show them how to floss, routinely wash your face at the next sink over. They are watching you and they will catch on. At least if they’re going to copy you, make it a good habit to copy. At Camp Spike N Wave they play a morning radio show hosted by some of the assistant directors. They would play fun dancing music over the intercoms to wake everyone up. My girls loved to dance and be crazy with us. Seriously, have you ever tried to do the Macarena while brushing your teeth? The Wobble while washing your face? Or even the Cupid Shuffle while brushing your hair?! It is pretty entertaining and it gets the kids up and ready for the day! So be a good counselor and take care of your kiddos!

Stay Campy my friends!

By the way, 13 days 19 hours 24 minutes until I fly to Seattle!

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