September 9, 2013 by theloneblonde
If you do happen to know me, I know I have a dedicated following of Austrian readers out there (Hallo Austaians!).You may know that with the exception of one summer in which I was in Panama, I have worked for summer camps since I was 16 and am a dedicated veteran of the summer camp scene. It is NOT summer without Summer Camp. Summer is never complete without that camping trip that allows you to show your true colors, which means it is my chance to let lose the side of me that my mother would not allow me to take outside as a kid, eg. Mismatched socks, uncoordinated colors, messy hair, no showers, dirt, the ability to bust out in song at the dinner table… pretty much anything un-lady like.
I was selected to join the Outdoor Ambassadors (OA) as the waterfront director and it was quite the honor. It was for sure one of the best and most rewarding things I have done all summer, not to mention it was a BLAST. I dragged along 10 kids from my town, though my kids may have not been one their best behavior (we did get one sent home…), they really represented my community because we truly take pride in the environment and environmental issues, and because we were really loud.
This was such an amazing opportunity we were sponsored by both AlbAid and The North Face and this year the setting was pretty primitive, which is just what our Albanian teenagers needed! For 57 of us we had 3 latrines, and 4 showers (two of which did not have doors and opened to a cow pasture, the one time I showered (yes, one time), I swear a cow was staring at me (this was alarming and I am from Wisconsin). Though it all worked out! Though by the end of the week, we gave out an award for the smelliest camper, and it was well deserved.
Speaking of cows we would walk through camp and there would be cows, just hanging out grazing. Our first day at camp we were playing some games, and it started to smell, it smelled so bad you wanted stop breathing. It smelled like you were 6 feet deep in latrine sludge. At first we thought no one had cleaned the bathrooms all summer, but then we learned behind the camp a cow had died and it was the methane (it was real bad, they had to get a tractor to drag it out).Cow on Camp…
Otherwise this was the first time I had ever worked with a camp that was Co-Ed, which was a totally different experience! I had a few almost sleepless nights in which I was running night watch. In which I would sit with a flashlight and listen to the night sounds, most of which turned out to be cows.
I spent most of my time on the beach, making sure no one drowned. We only had one jellyfish attack, which is good (not that Jellyfish are a problem here, this is the first and only attack that we have heard of). Otherwise we did all the amazing camp things, talent shows, games, and challenges. The theme of the week was survivor so everyone had a team color, and it was like a massive color war. Though the points were really more like cooperation points, very similar to my mother handing out cooperation coupons to us on vacation as kids. Kids won and lost based on getting into the team and camp spirit, working together, and lost them for using their cell phones. Telling any teenager this day and age that they cannot use their phones, and they will have no ability to charge them (when they asked me where they charge their phones, I told them to harness the power of the sun, I got a lot of blank stares). Though they just tried to live feed the entire camp anyway, drove us crazy, best practice for next year cell phones are getting checked in at the door. We even had a camper do a counselor roast (we thought it would be impersonations, it was more of a roast, in front of our bosses, lol).We had camp planned down to the minute, as most American camps that I have worked with before have run as well, though trying to create this in Albania is quite the challenge. Specifically because rules in Albania are meant to be broken or not taken seriously, and a schedule is unheard of, but it worked out in the end even if in the middle some of the kids told me I was making their lives a living hell (I am doing my job) to the same ones telling me it was the best experience of their life. I really am excited for next year, and really hope I get to go!
Now I am on a total camping kick, and the weather is perfect for camping! I happen to live right in the middle of nature and I am planning to take advantage of the cool fall weekends to take some trips and maybe even start to do some trail marking to some of the natural attractions in town!
It’s time for my first official Peace Corps report so clearly I am procrastinating, I will leave you with this: