Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Summer of 2008, Ligonier, PA - Part 3

A humongous part of being a Summer Camp Counselor is performance. Another word for performance might be "lying" but it is hard to say that this is the bad kind. Jokes are lies too, so it all gets a bit confusing.

I remember during training that we were told that we'd probably have to do things that we're uncomfortable with, or at least make us look like idiots, but it is fun for the kids, and something about how Paul says we should be "fools for Christ", though that probably is a misappropriation of that scripture. Two of the big days involving painting your face and other tomfoolery were The Fourth of July, and also Christmas in July, but I had both of those as my day off, and I somehow escaped The Big Hair Olympics unscathed. Putting crap (aka hairspray) in my hair to make it big and hilarious freaks me out; I do not know why.

But on the other hand, my day off never fell on Big Relay days, in which the campers (in their Color Teams) would complete a ridiculous relay race, and I ended up helping out with cheering for The Pierogies during The Terrific Tater-Tot Triathalon, which wasn't the same as a Big Relay, but was related. I can't remember now. In the process of cheering for our Water-Polo team, I jumped into the pool fully clothed. This was actually a big deal for me; I am not normally willing to jump into water fully clothed, yet in that moment I did not care about how ridiculous I would look, how uncomfortable wet underwear is, or anything else, just that jumping in was important to Camp being awesome. We made a big letter P with our bodies, for "Pierogies!", and then shouted a lot about how we had made P in the Pool, which most everyone thought was hilarious. I wonder if Leeanne, the Camp Director, thought so. Afterwards, I put my blue raincoat back on, because The Pierogies color was blue, and the raincoat was the only dry thing on my body, and I thought it was hilarious.

Everyday, after lunch, someone would make the afternoon announcements, which included our daily reminder to take care of our Duty Areas, the portion of Camp that you had been instructed to patrol for litter. Everyday we would laugh, because they said "doody", which means poop. By the end of the Summer, this was funnier to the Counselors than it was to the kids. Everday, after dinner, the Indiana Jones theme would play over the Dining Hall speakers, and in would run Indiana Groans and his sidekick Marcus, always incorrectly referred to as Mucus due to his sniveling nose. They were searching for a treasure... The Legend of the Crystal Flamingo (*Gasp!*)(After hearing the words, "The Crystal Flamingo"(*Gasp!*), everyone would gasp really loudly), but the evil Queen Angora was after The Crystal Flamingo (*Gasp!*) too. The purpose of these skits was to introduce that evening's Wide Game, but they were also just a funny bit of entertainment. As near as I could tell, the kids loved gasping and loved cheering for Indy and booing Queen Angora, and so the Run-On Skits served their purpose, but one thing sticks significantly in my memory: The first skit of Session 5, all the Counselors not involved in these skits were pretty curious, because Jinks would not be playing Indy for the first time all summer; the role instead would be filled by Ian, a big guy in the Marines who would leave every now and then to do training, and Mucus would be played by Clayton. Well, Indy ran in, but for some reason announced himself as "Indiana Joe", and it just got stranger from there. At one point, Mucus announced that one of the runes on the map seemed to reference some kind of precious metal, and Indy exclaimed "Like cinnamon!" I don't think that the kids got the joke, but we Counselors were in stitches.

There's a hill on the other side of the valley and down a ways from Camp that is covered in cars, because it is a junkyard. When kids ask what it is, we tell them it is a Brittney Spears Concert, or maybe a Jonas Brothers Concert if we are feeling particularly hip. Some kids, if they're young enough, believe us. Others half-believe us, others know we are lying, and still others knew that Brittney had no concerts scheduled this summer and they probably knew exactly where the Jonas Brothers were scheduled to appear on any given day. We also tell them that if they misbehave enough, they will have to meet the Unit Chief, who is a big, mean, angry and scary man, a story the kids eventually evolved into the belief that the Unit Chief has a large axe in his car. We tell them that all the guys on staff are brothers, or at least the Wilderness guys are, and some of them really believed us. We lie a lot to the kids, but never about stuff that we think matters. Is this okay? I don't know, but I never felt like it was wrong.

We had to dance sometimes at Camp. I am pretty bad at it. Yet there I was, waving my arms around and doing some ridiculous movements to some song about some parable, because a lady going by "Rev. Kim" from New Jersey said it was a good way to teach kids about the Bible, and Camp agrees. I am not going to write much about that woman, because people that actually know her have a much better opinion of her than I who met her for a day, but I will say this: Most of the "Scripture Skits" she comes up with are pretty stupid, and I am not sure that the kids learned anything from them; they just liked seeing their counselors act dumb. The one about Jesus dying and rising again, that skit is incredible.

A lot of other things went on at Camp. On Christmas in July, Jon and Ben burst into the Dining Hall with guitars and sombreros and fake mustaches and lip synced to "Feliz Navidad". Earlier, Jon and Eric ran into the Dining Hall to the tune of Yakety Sax, then ran around chasing each other, and ripped some phonebooks in half. They also did some crazy Japanese dance. Matt Lightfoot and I performed "Be A Man" from Mulan at two or three Coffee Houses. Several times, we got to see a performance of "A Million Ways" by OK Go, and twice we saw a production of Jack Handy's "The Zombies vs The Bees". I leave you with those, via youtube. The two "A Million Ways" videos are from two different Sessions, but see how we can do the same thing over and over and it's okay because it's different kids watching. It always amuses me how "A Million Ways" is definitely not a Camp Appropriate Song, but it's okay because the dancing is the point and really fun to watch. The last one is sort of inexplicably wonderful, and it caused Pat Meyers, Camp Executive Director, to say "...What just happened?"





Photos by Maggie Frick & Brian Jackson
Videos by Julia Swieson & Heather Flowers

1 comment:

Arathon said...

Oh my. Those videos were excellent.