A new session at camp always starts on a Sunday. It starts out with a calm gentleness and ends after a chaotic, kid filled frenzy.
I woke up startled that first Sunday by the sound of the bell. I feel a gentle breeze on my face and I heard birds outside my window. I lay there for a minute getting my bearings. I wondered “Where the heck am I?”. I looked up at a white ceiling just 3 feet from my face. I rolled over in my sleeping bag and remember that I was at camp.The room was bright with the morning sunshine as the window lacked any curtain. I would have to remember to drape a towel across the window. I peeked over from the top bunk to check on my son. He was sleeping on the bottom bunk, his sleeping bag tossed onto the floor below. He was pretty excited the night before to be sleeping in a “big kid” bunk bed.
I got my son dressed and we went to awaken the girls. They were still sound asleep in their bunk beds. They had not even heard the bell ring! Obviously residual effects from the four hours of swimming and playing on the beach the day before. The kids were all pretty excited for the first day of camp. I got the girls dressed and they each grabbed a barbie to take to breakfast.
The group for breakfast was even smaller than the group for dinner. Most of the counselors were taking advantage of their last opportunity to peacefully sleep in until the end of the session. The kids and I sat with Father Brian and Bill at the “Director’s table”. They had kindly poured me a cup of coffee and passed me a freshly baked croissant (I know, right?! A croissant! At camp!). I liked these guys already!
“So what is the schedule for today, gentlemen?” I asked as I poured out milk and cereal for the kids.
“Well, Father Brian will conduct the mass on the beach at 11.” Bill explained as he dipped into a bowl of yogurt. I remembered seeing the benches and the makeshift altar in the woods beside the beach. “There will only be a small group of staff at that, but a lot of the surrounding cottagers will drive or boat in for that. Following that we will have our lunch and then after lunch all of our staff will have returned from their weekend off and then we will all do a camp clean up.” Bill nodded.
I recalled stepping onto the underpants when I hopped out of the van and considered the heaps of clothing in the hallways of the main building. That was going to be a Herculean task!
Bill continued. “The campers are scheduled to arrive at 1 pm. We will have registration here in the dining hall. We will need you to be here to take any medications the campers may have brought from home. Also, you can talk to the parents about any medical issues a camper may have or answer any of their questions and so forth.”
OK. That seemed fair enough. “Sure.” I agreed.
“Oh and then the bus arrives from the city at about 3 pm with a group of about 30 campers. We offer that service to parents who don’t want to make the three hour trip from the city. The counselors will get any of their medications from the bus kids and bring those to you to put in the health office. We don’t want any meds in the huts, as you can probably understand.”
OK. I nodded. “That makes sense.” I say.
Father Brian piped in at this point. “Then the kids get settled into their huts, do swim testing to gauge their swimming abilities, do some ‘ice breakers’ to get to know the kids in their hut. You know, that kind of thing.”
OK. That is nice. “Very good.” I am still nodding.
“Oh, and then they pick their instructions, and then they will need to come and see you and have a physical, and then they learn about the ‘Camp Acorn Philosophy’ which is all about looking after each other, no bullying, that kind of thing.” Bill added counting off the activities on his fingers.
OK. That’s cool. I am still nodding as I pick up my coffee and take a sip.
Father Brian picked up the litany. “They, of course, get a tour of the camp and they talk about home sickness and ways to prevent it and….”
I stop nodding. Wait. What did Bill say? A physical? Did he say I need to give each kid a physical? That is 80 campers. That can’t be right. I almost choke on my coffee but then manage to swallow it and wave my hand in the air.
“I’m sorry to interrupt Father, but Bill, you said I need to give each kid a physical? Is…is that what you said?” I asked timidly.
“Oh, yes!” Says Bill nodding vigorously. “Yes, yes yes! We need to make sure the campers are arriving healthy and ready to fully participate in camp.”
Oh. Dear. Lord. 80 campers. 80 kids. Physicals. I think back to the stirrups and shiver.
“And what exactly do you mean by a physical?” I ask blinking.
“Oh!” says Bill. “Um, I am not really sure! I have never asked.” He turns to Father Brian. “Do you know what all is involved Brian?”
Father looks surprised. “Oh, no! I have no idea! I just know that the nurses do a ‘physical’ on each of the campers.” He makes air quotes when he says physical.
“I know that it involves checking ears. Oh and for lice. That is always nasty when the kids go home with lice that they got at camp. You can imagine!” Bill says and he and Father Brian nod simultaneously.
“Scabies would be bad too.” Father adds helpfully. “Did I not tell you about the initial physical when I came by the house for the interview?” Father Brian asks with a concerned expression.
“No. No, I don’t recall that.” I say, slowly shaking my head as I try to wrack my brain to remember any such thing. I mean seriously?! 80 freaking campers?! In one day?! I think I would remember that!
“Huh.” Says Father thoughtfully and shrugs. “Oh well, is no big deal as far as I know. The nurses are able to get it all done in one evening.” He waives his hand dismissively. “Just do whatever they taught you in nursing school.”
I try to think back to nursing school. I search my memory. Did they ever teach us “How to conduct physicals on 80 campers in a timely manner”? Nope. Nope, never learned that. I could feel my pupils constrict and my pulse quicken. This was gonna be my first challenge at camp! Ugh.