July 28, 2009 - 5:00 PM
So, session three of camp has started. Before it did though, we got a couple of days off, so we got to do a little traveling. I have a friend in Connecticut that I haven't seen in about five years. We were in orchestra together in high school and then he moved out to the east coast. So, I decided that during this last break I would go visit him. Originally it was just going to be me, but then a bunch of my coworkers heard of my travels and wanted to join in. It ended up being me plus four.
We took the train from Penn Station in New York City after dropping the campers off at the bus station in Washington Heights to meet their parents. The train ride was a lot of fun! We were laughing and eating pastries and watching the beautiful scenery go by. We took a lot of fun photos and I even straightened my hair on the train just because I could (there were tons of outlets near the seats). We arrived around 10:00pm in Hartford, Connecticut. My friend was there to pick us up.
My friend's brother works in a hotel, so he was able to hook us up with a really good deal. After we split it five ways, we were basically staying in a really nice hotel for $8.00 a night! It felt so nice to be in a fancy hotel after being at camp for so long. Civilization is a blessing, trust me.
The next day, my friend came and picked us all up and we drove to Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic is a little seaport town. We spent the whole day wandering around little boutiques, eating seafood dinner, and enjoying handmade ice cream. I also got a slice of pizza early in the day at Mystic Pizza (where the movie "Mystic Pizza" was filmed!). It was a very relaxing, nice day.
The next day, however, was kind of hectic. We were planning on going down to New Haven and to a beach house nearby there. However, on our way there, my friend's transmission blew out and we ended up stuck on the side of the highway for quite some time until eventually AAA and much hassle and negotiation got us a tow and such. We never made it to New Haven. We just had to go back to Hartford.
In Hartford, we had an awesome dinner at this little Irish Pub and got to explore the city some. It's a weird city. It is the capitol of Connecticut, so you would think it would be busy, but it's not. It's actually almost a little eerie because it's a whole bunch of really tall buildings, but no people. The waiter at the Irish pub told us that it's because it's the nation's largest insurance city, so I guess that means most people just commute in to work for insurance companies. Anyway, it was a weird city, but nice in its own way. We went down to the park and rode on the carousel and saw the beautiful capitol building.
We had to leave the following day back to camp by cramming into my friend's little truck. It was an experience all on its own. Quite the ride.
July 16, 2009 - 7:34 PM
So, here I am, back at camp. Currently, I am on my night off and enjoying cozy chai tea while sucking up my addiction to Wi-Fi. When I first got back to camp after spending time back in civilization for a few days, I was not excited to start session two. The summer seemed like it was moving slower than molasses and I didn't think that I could handle the intensity of the camp environment again. However, here I am. We have 216 campers this session and it seems like it is already flying by. Everything has gone so smoothly so far and the twelve girls that I have in my cabin are complete angels. I keep waiting for them to be difficult, but they're just so great. They are polite, respectful, and adorable - all that a counselor could ask for!
I'm getting ahead of myself though. Before I can talk about camp so far, I have to talk about the rest of my time in the city. It was probably this time of beauty that made me hesitant to return to the wilderness of my job at camp. On Sunday, the day before I had to return to camp, I decided to be a self-indulgent, independent woman. My friend I was staying with in Long Island was going to be working all day, so I decided to hop on a train by myself and head out to the Hamptons! I stopped at Westhampton and walked off the train, ready for adventure.
The train stop was farther from the downtown area than I thought it would be, but I didn't mind the walk. Westhampton is nice. It was interesting to observe the bus station that I got dropped off at with the campers near Spanish Harlem and then compare that environment to the Hamptons. The Hamptons are definitely for the "haves." Every house, street, store, was beautiful. Lawns were well manicured and people walked around in their polo shirts and oversized sunhats.
I told myself that I was just there to visit - no shopping. However, no one had told me that there would be a lovely craft fair going on that day. My first purchase was a gorgeous purse, handmade by this woman with Italian tapestries.
I walked around Main Street for a couple of hours. It was such a beautiful day and the vibe of the town was incredible. People were happy. I stopped in a café and had an iced chai and a black and white cookie. I touched expensive clothing, shoes, and trinkets in several boutiques. I felt so alive, independent, and succulent. I felt like this was the environment for me. A quaint, cute little town. Although, I must say that I think I would get sick of the people. Sometimes I can connect more with those I may find back at the bus station.
Next, I set off, determined to find the ocean. A couple of miles of walking later, I was there, staring at the Atlantic Ocean, nourishing my soul with frozen yogurt and sand between the toes. It was such a weird feeling to stare out into the sea and know that direction would not lead me home. The sun rises with opportunity and growth for me in the East, but sets where I will find comfort with my home in the West. You cannot watch the sunset at the beach in New York. Realizing this, seeing it, was my reality check. I am on the other side of the country.
I walked back into downtown and decided to have dinner before going back to the train. I sat down at this really nice restaurant. My table was a small, cute one out on the back patio. I soaked up the outdoors as several waiters catered to my every need. I had a rather pricey, indulgent meal of salmon and tomatoes and mozzarella and more. Every bite was heaven. I love being alone and being comfortable to be so.
On the train, I was full of love, love, love. I was adventurous and meeting new people. I was in control of my destiny. I had seen a beautiful part of the world. I felt so Sex and the City. Ah, the Hamptons...
And that brings me back to now, day four of an eleven-day long session of camp. It took me a little time to readjust again to life at camp, but once I did, I quickly remembered the beauty of what I'm doing here. These children are amazing. I started a new art project with them this term. In it, I read them a story called "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" The story talks about how you fill a person's inner bucket by saying or doing nice things for them, but empty it by being mean or doing bad things to another. We then decorate these cups with tissue paper, glitter, puff balls, and more and then write each other nice notes to stick in them. Therefore, we fill each other's buckets! It's pretty precious. The kids love it and I get a ton of awesome bucket fillers from them as well. I will have to post pictures of it soon. For now though, the pictures that accompany this blog are of the beach in Westhampton, a gratitude journal that was made in my art class by a camper last session, and my art room where I teach at camp. Enjoy! Until next time...
July 10, 2009 - 4:05 PM
Our first camping session of four has come to an end. Yesterday, we bused 236 girls back into New York City after giving them the best summer experience we could. It was an exhausting ten days full of all types of emotion and action. However, looking back on it now I see only the triumphs.
We took our campers on so many different adventures that they would normally not have. One night, we took them boating on the lake. Each of them got to take a turn rowing. It was so special to watch their excitement as they got over their fears and realized that they could row even better than their counselor! We took them on an overnight hike where they laughed around a campfire while making s'mores. We introduced them to several subjects, so that they could have the opportunity to find a passion - ceramics, dance, photography, cooking, film, circus, recreation, art. The final night, we all dressed up and served them a lovely meal, followed promptly by ice cream sundaes and a dance party (during which I learned tons of new moves!).
I had moments where I wondered if I was really making a difference in the lives of these amazing children. I got my answer on the final night. Several campers who had been in my art classes came up to me to thank me for letting them make their art. One girl who had made a collage of her dream house and life said to me, "It meant so much to me. Seriously. And I'm going to have that someday." Another girl left me a note in my art class that read, "You make art our destiny." A third girl told me, "I love my painting so much. I can't wait to show it to my mom. Thank you for being my art teacher."
On that final night, my heart was so full of feel goods and warm fuzzies. I couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a big tub of cozy, delicious soup. I think I just might've changed a life this summer.
It was sad saying goodbye to my campers at the bus terminal, but I couldn't help but smile and get the chills watching their parents and guardians pick them up. The excitement and love was so honest. There's nothing quite like the energy of an arrivals terminal in a mass transportation facility. There's someone waiting for you.
I can't wait until session two, although this time off is going to be insanely heavenly. I have already begun to think of new art projects that I can do with the campers that will be fun and also teach them the importance of self-love and kindness.
Here's a toast to my first group of campers at the Fresh Air Fund's Camp ABC! May they have an incredible rest of their summer and have lives full of opportunity and joy.