First dinner at camp

After organizing all the various medications that I had managed to gather at registration, I took a deep breath. It wasn’t as bad as I thought since many of the meds were “PRN” meaning “as needed”, so I was not gonna have to hand them out  three times a day, every day like I had imagined. I stepped back to take a look around. I had cleaned up the health station the day before. I had wiped down all the cupboards and the counter tops and the desk and then mopped the floor with Mr. Clean with bleach. The place smelled antiseptic. Do you smell that? Oh, yah, I love the smell of antiseptic. So reassuring! I take a deep breath again. 

I hear the bell ring in the distance. That must be the bus arriving from the city, I think. 

I pull out the list of the campers from each hut. There are 20 boys in each of the four huts. The Dear Hut is full of boys from 8-10 years old. The Cord (as in a cord of wood) Hut hosts the 11-12 year olds, the Rock Hut has 13-14 year olds and finally the Bear Huts (there are five Bear Huts, each house 4 kids) is where the 15 year old LIT I’s live. The counselors will each bring their hut to see me tonight for their “camp physical”. I have scheduled them starting after dinner in 45 minute intervals. Yup…that makes for about a 2 minute physical. Hey! What do you expect? Surely to God, no parent would send their kid to camp with the the Black Plague or gangrene, right?!

I put two plastic patio chairs in the center of the room. I line up the tongue depressors, the thermometers and their disposable covers. The otoscope is charged up and I have probe covers ready to go to examine ears. I have two functional flashlights. I have a stethoscope in case I need to listen to anyone’s lungs, heart, or bowel sounds. I think I am ready to go.

I nod and fold my arms. I try to think if I have missed anything. As I am standing there, considering, and getting ready to lock up the office and maybe go down to the beach, a female counselor runs into the station with her arms loaded with more medications. 

“Hi Nurse! I’m Amy. I just collected these meds from the bus kids. I was told to bring them to you. Thanks! I gotta go.” Amy says breathlessly, drops the meds on the exam table, and bolts from the room. 

Ah geez! There lies another 18 medication bottles and zip lock bags. Some of them have hand written instructions. “Lawrence has night time incontinence. He needs to take this medication every night WITHOUT fail or he will wet the bed. If he does so, please have the counselor discreetly wash his sleeping bag. Thank you.” Ah geez! I manage to get all the meds organized just in time for the dinner bell.

I meet the kids at dinner and am delighted to hear all about their afternoon. They spent it at the beach and swam in the shallow end while the campers did their swim testing. They seem exhausted but happy. Their cheeks are pink and they are obviously totally enamored with the “child care” counselors. I feel really good about that.

Dinner (lasgna, salad, and fresh baked rolls–yum) is tame at first. The campers are sitting together in their respective huts. The Dear Hut table is the quietest. Some of the Deer “Hutters” are here without knowing anyone. Most of these little guys have never been away from home. I try to imagine how terrifying it would be for an 8 year old to be at camp for two weeks. I also try to imagine being that parent sending their 8 year old away to camp for two weeks. Huh. Kid must be a total freaking brat and/or the parents are completely selfish! That is the only reasoning that makes sense to me. I mean, seriously, 8 years old and gone for two whole weeks? Seems just plain cruel to me!!

The Cord Hut table is a little more lively as many of these kids have been to camp before and know each other. The Rock and the Bear Hut tables are very animated. A lot of these kids have been coming to camp for five or more years. They come year after year and look forward to meeting up again with their camp friends.

After dessert (a delightful apple crisp), the chants begin. The counselors start into it.

“Hey Bobbo!” A couple of the Dear Hut counselors call out to a Bear Hut counselor. The campers look around trying see who is yelling.

“Hey what?” Bobbo calls back sounding completely disinterested and still finishing off the last few bites of his dessert.

“Hey Bobbo!” They call out louder.

“Hey what?” Bobbo calls back louder too.

“We want to see you get down!” 

“No way!” Bobbo replies and shakes his head.

Not taking “no” for an answer they yell more insistently, “We want to see you get down!”

At this Bobbo jumps to his feet and shouts “OK!”. He then starts dancing like an epileptic while the campers bust a gut laughing and all the counselors sing. “I say D, O, W, N, now that’s the way to get down. Woo! I say D, O,  W, N, now that’s the way to get down! Woo!” At this point Bobbo abruptly sits down and goes back to eating his dessert as if nothing has happened. My daughters laugh hysterically. With one goofy cheer, the barriers have broken down.

This persists for another ten minutes, in which time we have been treated to a dozen counselors, each with their own special style of “dancing”! It is complete hilarity. The camper’s faces totally light up.

Next up is the good old “We got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?” chant which gets the entire dining hall very animated. 

Finally the Bear Hut stands up and proceeds to sing a song which looks like it has been carefully rehearsed. Together they start to sing, with hand motions, and much hip swinging.

“Peel banana, peel, peel banana. Peel banana, peel, peel banana. Mash banana, mash, mash banana. Mash banana, mash, mash banana. Eat banana, eat, eat banana. Eat banana, eat, eat banana.” At this point their voices rise as they sing the final verse and race all around the dining hall, beating their chests like apes and sing at the top of their voices. “Go bananas, go go bananas. Go bananas, go go bananas!” All the campers burst out in laughter and clap. The place goes wild. 

I look at my kids and they are beaming. Wow! This. Is. Awesome.

At this point Lydia takes the stage. It takes her some time to settle everyone down. When she finally does she welcomes all the campers to Camp Acorn. She then begins to introduce the entire staff and counselors. This takes awhile because after she introduces us she makes each of us freestyle dance as she breaks out into a beat box. It is admittedly pretty hysterical to watch Bill, the director, and Father Brian, the executive director, attempt to bust a move. They are pretty horrible. A lot of the male counselors are equally as pathetic. But it is all highly entertaining.

This pretty much concludes dinner. I take the kids upstairs to get ready for bed as by now it is 7 pm and bedtime is usually at 8 pm at our house. They get changed into PJ’s and brush their teeth. They are full of talk about the afternoon’s activities. Playing in the sand, kids doing cannon balls into the lake, whistle blowing, counselor antics. I can see that they have had a great time and are totally worn out. Sammy and Anita come by and knock on the door. They will put the kids to bed tonight while I check out all the campers. I give them each a hug and a kiss and tell them to behave. Off I go, down to the Health Center. I’m ready for the marathon. Bring it!  

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