Caroline continued the tour on the second floor. This was the guys floor. Again, there was that pervasive “eau de feet” with a high note of man sweat and unwashed hair to top it off. Again, the same disastrous hallway but with boy clothes vomited onto the floor.
On this floor was where the nurse’ station was located. The girls attempted to peek in but the door was locked.
“We’ll get you a set of keys later so that you can have a look in all the cupboards and check out all the camper paperwork”. Caroline told me.
Down the back stair case, around a corner, and through a heavy fire door, into the dining hall. Whoa! Now this was something else! Rustic would be a good way to describe it. Worn, scuffed, wide plank hardwood floors, wooden posts and beams across the ceiling. There are a dozen rectangular dark wooden tables and benches filling the space. A nice little fireplace occupied the corner. Above it, a beautiful landscape painting of the bay view from the dining hall. Below on the mantle was a collection of rocks, a small painting of the same view likely attempted by a younger camper, some pine cones, and a candle. Secured along most of the posts and beams are several unfinished pine paddles. Upon closer inspection you can see that they are covered in signatures. The one I read said “Session 3, 1978” and below are 50 fading scribbled autographs. The next one read “Girls session, week 3, 1982”. These signatures were a little less faded. Along one wall were double doors out onto a small deck.
“This is where the campers line up before meals. They have to sound off before we can all go in to eat.” Caroline informed me.
Further along the wall was a small electric organ. The girls immediately ran to it, flipped the switch and started jamming. Caroline placed my son on the bench and he gave it a try, slamming his fists down on the keyboard. Caroline pointed to the other side of the dining hall. Along the far side is a built-in hutch, flanked on either side by doors leading into the kitchen. One door is clearly marked “in” and the other adamantly says “OUT!”. It looks as though maybe people get that confused?
Caroline lead me into the kitchen. A long stainless steel counter with heating lamps runs most of the length of the kitchen. Behind it is a prep table, a large industrial sized oven, a big grill. There was a Hobart dish washer to the left and on the far wall an enormous pantry where I could see has huge bags of sugar and flour, and canisters of spices. To the right of the pantry was the enormous, heavy door to the walk-in fridge. The set up pretty much looked like a small restaurant kitchen.
“Do we have a cook?” I asked Caroline.
“Shawn is our head cook.” Caroline told me. “He is in culinary school. He prepares the menu for the session, makes up the grocery list and over-sees the kitchen.”
I recaledl that Shawn was the dude with the really long hair. I wondered if there is a hairnet big enough to cover all that hair. I found out later that, indeed, there was.
“He has two counselors who assist him in making each meal. Then the leaders in training, or L.I.T.’s as we call them, assist with setting up, serving the meals, doing all the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.”
“Wait.” I said waving my hand to stop her. “Shawn is the head cook? How old is he?”
“Oh, he’s twenty.” Caroline told me as she waved her hand as if to dismiss any doubts I might have about a kid running the kitchen. Like twenty was sooo old.
“And how old are these counselors who are preparing meals for 80 people?” I asked.
“Umm, they are 18.” Caroline told me with a shrug.
I was just a few years older than the head cook (Hey! I’m a youngish Mum!) and I could not imagine taking on that responsibility at that age. In fact, this was consistently my reaction as Caroline explained the roles of the staff and counselors. I had a hard time fathoming these kids taking on the huge amounts of responsibilities that they did. And with very little time off!
We wandered out of the main house and stood by the flag pole. At this point the girls are dragging their towels in the dirt as they walk along slapping their feet, obviously bored with the tour.
“Mum! Muuuuuum! I wanna go swaaaaming,” they whined.
“Well! Are you guys bored with my tour?” Caroline asked with a feigned expression of sadness.
“We wanna go swaaaaming PLEASE!” my daughter piped up as she swung her now dirty towel in the air.
“I will point you to the ‘waterfront'” Caroline said. “We can finish up later.”
The three kids made a beeline to the beach. We are the only ones there. It was a lovely, quiet and serene spot. About a 50 foot square area of soft, fine, light brown sand welcomed us. I found out later that the camp has to have a dump truck full of the sand brought in every 2-3 years. Tucked into the forest adjacent to the beach was a small altar and a dozen weather worn benches for outdoor church. An L-shaped floating dock acts as a wave-breaker and allowing for a shallow area of water that was a terrific place for teaching beginning swimmers, for demonstrating some basic water rescues, and for playing water continental (which is basically water polo, standing up in the shallow end). The beach, of course, provided endless hours of play for all ages.
My kids were delighted. We found some sand toys in the small lifeguard’s shed. Three life jackets were fastened up. The kids got busy digging a hole to China, then filling it with small buckets of water. Soon the hole became a muddy hot tub of sorts.
I spread out my towel in the sand. Sitting on it with my legs stretched out, I tilted my face up to the warm sun and I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath of the fresh air. This was a paradise!
“This camp nursing gig is totally gonna rock!” I thought to myself.
I was sooooooo naive!