An afternoon in arts ‘n crafts. Sigh!

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Gateway to arts ‘n crafts!

After lunch the kids decided they wanted to go down to the arts and crafts building. It was a bit windy and overcast, so I didn’t mind spending some time indoors. So I packed a magazine in my backpack (you never know!) and we tromped down to the AC building.

We arrived to find it full of all of the nineteen Bear Hut boys (minus the one that went home that first night). Now, the Bear Hut is actually a bit of a misnomer. It really should be classified the Bear ‘Huts’, since the twenty 15 year old boys were divided up into 5 little huts, each holding four of the LIT 1’s.  These huts are pretty basic. A small rectangular building with a corrugated tin roof, two steps up to a small deck and  inside was four built-in pine bunk beds and some simple shelving in which to place some your clothes (of course no clothes in the boys’ rooms ever made it to a shelf.  Most times you could find their clothing ‘displayed’ on the floor. Come to think of it…the girls’ clothes rarely made it to the shelf either).  Two little windows on either side of the front door could be propped open to allow for a (very) little bit ‘o ventilation.

The term LIT means ‘leader in training’. Most of these kids had their hearts set on being future Camp Acorn counselors. Few of these kids ever became Camp Acorn counselors, unfortunately since they would only need eight of these young men for first year staff. This was a source of much stress, grief and sadness over the years.  However, the two year LIT training was still valuable for developing strong Catholic leaders, which was one of the main reasons for the creation of the camp by the Jesuits in the first place.  It’s just that these strong Catholic leaders would have to find employment elsewhere.

During the first year of the program, the LIT’s live in the Bear Huts and during their two week session they spend their afternoons learning various aspects of leadership. This involves talks from senior staff, perhaps some time co-operating on surviving the high ropes, or attempting to plan and carry out a program for one of the younger huts. Oh and sharing, lots of sharing.

This afternoon that we joined them in the AC building they were beginning work on a paddle. Each kid had an unfinished paddle that they would be responsible for shaving into a paddle-like shape, sanding and then polishing in their spare time during the session.

Now you might think a group of 15 year old boys would want nothing to do with three little kids but you would be thinking wrong. When I walked in with my kids, these boys called out to them by name (me? No! I was still “The Nurse”), gave them high-fives, and generally made a fuss over them. Wow.  My kids ate it up. They loved all the additional attention. They were a bit like little rock stars.  That made me their manager I guess?

The campers settled back down into their woodwork and the four of us rummaged around in the supplies closet.  The supplies in here looked like a kindergarten teacher had gone shopping while on crack. Beads! Paints! Clay! Hodge podge! Brushes! Feathers! Colorful paper! Yarn! Gymping ! My daughters were overwhelmed with the possibilities! It was a bit like wrestling a fish, trying to get them to choose one thing to do. I had to reassure them that we could come back every day if they wanted and that we didn’t have to do it all today.

After a lively discussion the girls decided that they would paint some ‘watercolors’. My son was cool with that too. Tracy, one of the AC counselors, helped me set up the paper and paints and brushes and water. I stood behind them and supervised (while reading my magazine) and enjoyed eavesdropping in on the various conversations around me. For 15 year old boys that mostly included discussions regarding who stayed up the latest last evening,  the NHL standings, who was dating, and again, always the favorite: who was the hottest female counselor and who stood a chance with her. There was much speculation and considerable guffawing. I did enjoy this banter!

On occasion, a camper might come over for what I came to think of as a “drive by” consultation. A paper cut.  A stubbed toe. Sprained ankle? Sore throat.  I dealt with each of these with a ‘looky-see’, more questions and maybe a referral to my office after dinner if needed. AC also had a first aid kit, so that came in handy too. I figured with every intervention here, I was eliminating one kid from my line after dinner!

“Would you like to try a watercolor?” Tracy asked me as she peeled off my son’s painting and placed it in the window to dry.

“Me?” I asked. Ha! I hadn’t painted anything since eighth grade!

“Sure. It’s kind of therapeutic.”

“Oh I am sure I would be terrible.” I said dismissing the idea.

“So? Who cares?” Tracy responded. Good point.

“Um. OK. What the heck.” I said as I put my magazine back in my backpack and sat down by my son.

I did this one. JK! My daughter did it. No, seriously.
Tracy quickly showed me how to tape off the edges of the paper and gave me a couple of helpful hints about watercolors. And then…I started to paint after an eighteen year hiatus! And it was fun. We spent the next two hours down there. I could see us spending a lot of time in AC over the next two weeks. I was terrible at the watercolor of course. There was no hidden talent revealed there. Art was never one of my fortes, but it was fun and relaxing! Besides…I figured I could always sign one of my daughters’ names to it and no one would be the wiser! Don’t judge!

She did this one too. No…really.

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