No sooner had I found my footing in main camp than they decided to ship me down the valley to DV's camp for older kids, Conestoga.
"Don't worry," said the program director, aware of my inexperience, "I gave you the cabin with the youngest kids, so it will be the most like main camp."
Uh, yeah. Let me tell you that those two years between eleven and thirteen make a huge difference!
First let's look at the main differences between Conestoga and Main Camp:
-Things dry at Main Camp. They stay damp forever at Conestoga.
-You have to walk long distances at Main Camp. You walk short distances with incredible slope gradients at Conestoga.
-You sleep in cabins at Main Camp. You sleep in "wagons" at Conestoga. If you're lucky, you get a bunk.
Now we can look at the differences between Main Camp and Conestoga campers:
-Main Camp kids are cute. Conestoga kids are pubescent.
-Main Camp kids naturally adore you. Conestoga kids give you attitude.
-Main Camp kids won't shower unless you threaten to hose them down. Conestoga kids ask if they can wake up at five in the morning so they can be ready in time for breakfast at 8:15.
Well, maybe this is a bit unfair. I had some great campers, and they don't all have attitude. And they sure gave up on the five in the morning thing pretty quickly. This week was actually pretty uneventful in comparison to Week I. Having been given a heads-up by a fellow "wagon leader" from the week before, I strategically slept near the wagon door every night to prevent my campers from making any midnight rendez-vous, but it seems to have been unnecessary. I did not need to tie my wrist to the door-knob or set up a tower of pop cans for further security, as the other wagon-leader had been required to do the week before.
Of my six campers, I would say that I became friends with three of them, and had no issue with two of the others. I managed to avoid any angry confrontation with the sixth. The speaker at Conestoga was great, and so was the nurse. As far as the month of July goes, these two were the best yet I've met. They were enthusiastic, entertaining, and made great efforts to get to know the kids and the staff. Oh, also, the speaker spoke about good stuff.
In case you can't tell, I certainly have preferred Main Camp to Conestoga so far, but it wasn't all bad. The cardboard boat race in particular was tons of fun (even though our girl didn't know how to paddle and then sank), and I was impressed by the maturity level of a fairly large number of the boys.
We have an inflatable iceberg at the dugout (which, to my amusement, many of the staff members commonly call a lake) which you can climb up and then slide down. At least, that's the idea. It took a good couple of minutes before I could figure out how to heave myself out of the water and onto the side, and I only figured it out because a helpful camper patiently explained to me where exactly to put my hands and feet. After thanking him for his advice, I managed to scale the rest of the wall up to the top, where I met another problem. It's a fourteen foot drop to the water, so the rule is to go down feet-first. We also have a rule that only six people are allowed on the iceberg at a time.
I was hopelessly tangled when I reached the top; it was certainly not my feet pointing to the water. As I flopped around in a frenzy like a dying fish, trying to realign myself without slipping off, the kids in the water started shouting up at me to let go so they could get on. It was another patient and slightly bemused male camper, perched near the top of the iceberg that yelled back down to them, "Yeah, she's not going anywhere for a while yet."
It was terribly embarrassing, but I remember it fondly.
I also got a reputation for being "smart" this week. During the first chapel, the speaker invited everyone to ask him questions to get to know him, so I asked him his opinion on pre-Adamic man. When, on the second night, he asked us who knew the definition of an allegory and I replied with a dictionary-like explanation, it seemed to seal the deal. Kids (and staff) would come up and quiz me.
Camper: What does "distinguished" mean?
Me: It's being well-known for being good at what you do.
Camper: Ok, what does DNA stand for?
Me: Deoxyribonucleic acid.
Camper: Uh, what does MS mean?
Me: Multiple sclerosis.
Camper: What about Ph. D? What does Ph. D stand for?
Me: Uh, it's Latin. I can't remember what exactly it is.
Camper: Hah! And I thought you were smart...
She made it halfway around the "lake" before the thing got too soggy and folded up on her.
P.S. I am surprised that Blogger hasn't told me "Conestoga" is spelled wrong. I've been trying to figure out what it means all month.
ETA: Apparently it's a type of broad-wheeled covered wagon, which makes sense, seeing as we sleep in wagons.