Sunday, 18 September 2011

Work, Work, Work

Now that the summer is over and I once again have no fulfilling paid job (but I do have several bills, including the newly-instigated rent), I must once again do this thing called "job hunting". Which, admittedly, I have not really done before. Job hunting for me, in the past, has consisted of me telling people I need a job and then waiting for someone to offer me something. I have had 5 formal, legally recognized jobs in my life. Plus loads and loads of babysitting, though that was mostly before this blog.

My first job (which, almost sadly, I still have), was Tim Hortons. The former owners who hired me are family friends. I didn't even have to sit an interview. He just saw it was me and said "Welcome Aboard!"

The summer after Peru, I was hired by our church to plan and run day camps for kids. The position was basically offered to me when I mentioned I needed a job. I did beat out some competition, though. What swung the decision in my favour? I regularly attend that particular church, while the other applicants did not.

The summer following that, I was a respite worker for a family with a special needs kid. I got that job because I mentioned to a particular woman that I needed a job, and this particular family mentioned to the same lady that they needed a respite worker. The deal was pretty much sealed.

Then I skipped a year of summer jobs because I guess I felt like being lazy. But then this summer rolled around and I worked at Dallas Valley. This one happened because I mentioned to my cousin that I might be interested in working at the camp where he lives. The following week, the camp director called me up and asked me to come out and work for him. Yeah!

Come to think of it, there is only one job I ever got on my own merit. Even my babysitting got a kick-start because I was the child of the woman teaching everyone's kids. Mom would send the siblings of the kids she was teaching upstairs to be watched (sometimes poorly) by me. And the parents would pay me for it. I never once had to advertise that I babysat. Word-of-mouth, all the way.

But yes, I did get ONE job based on what I knew and how I presented myself, rather than on whom I happened to know. That's right. My own merit and skill. I was an enumerator for Census Canada this summer. You know, before I went off to camp.

I had to apply and pass a (basic) test and have an interview (consisting of four easy questions). I didn't know anybody. And yet I still got the job - and when all was said and done, my supervisor wrote that I "exceeded expectations", which is pretty cool, because I personally had been feeling guilty for not putting in more hours and accomplishing more than I had. Yay homeschooler work-ethic carries the day!

But now, if I want to be choosy about what jobs I take, it looks like I might have to stop waiting for them to fall into my lap. Sigh. So much spent energy and rejection to look forward to...

On a perkier note, I ran my first "role-play" yesterday at the Distress Centre. It was weird, having those people hang on my every word and directing all their concerns and questions to me. I was definitely the youngest in the room. If I were a power-junkie, I'd be on a high right now. As it is, I just feel oddly satisfied. That means I haven't been swayed by the dark side yet... right?

Speaking of work-ethic:
"Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest." Mark Twain

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A Blue Jay Died

Of the whooping cough.
Well, it whooped so hard,
And it whooped soooo long,
That it whooped its tail
And its head right off.

I'm pretty sure I'm that that blue jay right now. Except for the death thing. I think that's still coming.

I never realized that silly camp songs were meant to be applicable to real-life situations, but no sooner do I arrive back from Saskatchewan than I start hacking like an insomniac blue jay. For two straight weeks, good grief! Body, it's time to get healthy again - seriously!

“You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.” Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Show Reins, Main Camp, Week X

I'm beginning to notice a preponderance of cabin names that begin with the letter S.

We had only four hours to book it from Conestoga back to main camp, get all set up and ready to go for the final junior week. Or rather, half-week, which was nice. It would be tough to do two straight weeks with only a four hour "break". Happily, at the last moment the PD realized there was an extra LIT available, and she gave her to me, saying I was going to need all the help I could get with my particular group of kids. I was too busy glorying in the fact that for the first time this summer I had a REAL MATTRESS on my bed to be overly concerned about having seven sponsored, first-time campers to deal with.

And I didn't need to worry. They were all from a tiny but great Christian school and were probably the most "Christiany" of all the campers I've had. I could have handled them all myself. However, I was very glad for my LIT, if only for two reasons - A) The girls all loved Krista to pieces and B) Night times got a bit scary.

The amount of sleepwalking in this cabin was ridiculous. Every morning we'd wake up to find out that at least two girls had been up and about, abandoned their bunk on my side of the cabin and had plunked themselves down nearer to Krista. On the third night, we just slid all the mattresses toward Krista before we went to sleep, figuring that everyone was going to end up there, anyway. It was rather amusing.

The "night terrors" weren't so amusing. There was one on the second night, which woke up people in the next cabin over, and several "attempts" on the third night. I put night terrors in quotations because we're pretty sure there was a demonic element involved, rather than it being a standard sleep disorder. As it turned out, the mom of two of the girls was hanging out at camp as well, and on the third night she had woken up around midnight with a strong compulsion to pray for us. She told us that she had fallen back to sleep around two in the morning, which, interestingly, corresponds with the time period that I was up and praying and generally feeling that it was not a good idea to try sleeping. So much for putting that lovely mattress to good use.

If I have learned one thing this summer, it's the power of prayer and that God does actively intervene in the lives of people. And if you can't do anything else, pray for people and love them. Kids especially are love sponges.

The nights were perhaps less comfortable this week, but the days were great. I genuinely loved these girls, even if they didn't love my singing voice.

I woke them up one morning by singing "Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory." I was informed by one young lady that she had been dreaming, and in her dream, she had heard something and thought, "What is that awful noise?" at which point she woke up and discovered it was me. "Please don't wake us up with singing again," they politely requested.

And then, when camp was over, everyone went home. It felt weird. As the place emptied out, I gathered my stuff together and wandered aimlessly around giving people hugs. It's awful - as soon as I start getting attached to people we part ways and I'm never sure whether I'll ever see them again. It happened with Peru and it happened again. Sigh. At least I feel somewhat satisfied in knowing that my tears were catching and that I got some other people crying, too.

So how to end a series of posts on camp? I don't really know. It was a very good summer, for lack of a better word. I was there until the bittersweet end. Please pray for everyone I came into contact with these past few months. It would be much appreciated.

After camp, I went to my cousins' farm for a few days, which was awesome, then my sister came to pick me up and informed me that she now has a boyfriend. And now I'm home again, and once I unpack, I guess I can formally say that this summer is a wrap.

Camper, to a tired friend: This is camp, not nap school!

And these guys tally up to 59 campers under my care this summer.

Spindle, Conestoga, Week IX

I ended up being very glad that I came back to camp. Some kind of wall broke down this week. I feel like all of a sudden, the other staff went from being amiable coworkers to friends. I don't know why. But alas, given the schedule of camp, a week and a half doesn't give you enough time to really make strong enough connections to make it likely you'll retain your friendship from a province over. Hopefully I am proven wrong.

Week nine was another junior teen week at Conestoga. And yes, my wagon name was Spindle, not Spinster. And no, I don't know what "Spindle" means. Presumably it's some part of a wagon.

I crashed the popular group of kids this week. I'm not sure how. Usually I hang with the nerdy kids that lecture the others on the mythical lupine origins of ancient Rome, not with the flirty, crazy, coupled up groups. Yet this week I was aware of most of the interpersonal drama going on because the kids would voluntarily tell me and would include me in their crowded tables during meal times. My "popular" girls in the cabin seemed very open and happy to make conversation with me and one even expressed that she would miss me when she went home.

It was a rather eventful camp. One kid requested I give him a permanent marker "tattoo" all over his arm and the nurse left feminine hygiene gifts for all the girls on their pillows, which my girls were quite entertained to receive. Our wagon's front window was shattered and started spilling shards of glass all over the floor whenever we closed the door. One morning we paraded through the camp with pots and spoons and ululations declaring a "morning game" a full hour before our campers thought they had to wake up (they were mostly not impressed). We swapped guy and girl staff for "Kiss Me Dear", which was educational. I'm telling you, girls play dirty! We also had a most enjoyable dinner theatre, a game of human foosball, and a last minute, impromptu night game of "Star Tipping". And thank you, Jess, for the story about the man with the hook for an arm. Also, all the staff took turns giving their testimony, and we had a really powerful night at campfire where one of my girls rededicated her life to Christ. Plus, cabin devos were pretty good. Oh! And in thanks for all the hours I put in at the climbing wall this summer, I finally got to do one of the elements myself - I got to go rappelling! Yay!

There is one thing I really don't understand about camp. I can be there for two months, going hard every day, and I can have as much energy at the end of week nine as I had on the first day of week one. No doubt this has a lot to do with the prayers supporting the staff, but it never ceases to surprise me how teenagers can come with lots of energy and then be quite lame by day five. We go swimming every day at Conestoga, and by the middle of the week, there wasn't a single kid in the pool. They were all sunbathing or hanging beside the pool, while the staff pleaded with them to come swim. And at least one wide game ended because most of the kids were sitting out. So many didn't want to play that we had to make a rule that instead of running, you had to roll on the ground to your target. The field was too empty to simply run, as you'd be home free before your started. But the new rule pretty much just resulted in me and a few other staff and hardcore campers rolling and flopping around on the ground making strange wheezy noises while everyone else braided grass. Go figure. And the same goes for visiting the nurse. I didn't roll my ankle once all summer. How is it that without fail, at least half my cabin will have had ankle injuries by pick-up time? Oh, well.

This week had some up and downs, but it was probably my favourite of the summer. Rather pathetically, I forgot to take down any quotes from this week, meaning you get an old quote from my dad, which is something I would have liked to have told my campers:

“We are going to go outside to play and we will have fun whether you like it or not!” Art Heinrichs

I fail at Conestoga group shots, so here's one of me on the foosball field.

ETA: I took a bribe this week. An actual bribe. Is it bad that I don't feel ashamed?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cabin, Sylvan Lake, Week VIII

Following the end of week 7, my cousins and I packed up and headed west for a mini family reunion. There were seven of us, two on motorcycles, the rest in a truck. I have no idea how we managed the luggage. We left at about 4 in the afternoon.

"We should be there by what, eleven?" said my uncle.

"See you around twelve," my dad texted.

We arrived around three-thirty. How did my family respond to seeing me after an absence of seven weeks? My dad woke up despite the hour, hauled himself out of bed, and came to give me a hug and help with the bags. My brother woke up despite the hour, hauled himself out of bed, and came to give me a hug. My sister woke up despite the hour, grunted hello, and gave me a blanket so I wouldn't freeze to death before morning, when she could properly greet me. My mom woke up and said, "SHHHHHH!" then went back to sleep. But in the morning she was happy to see me.

It was a good week, even if it does seem to be way colder in Alberta than in Saskatchewan. Much fun was had by all 19 of us (in one cabin), through various means such as tubing behind a jet ski, an awesome waterslide park, and a kids' Naruto scratch book my sister bought me in Quebec. :-)

I didn't want to go back to camp at the end of it all, but alas, prior commitments prevailed.

"Friends come and go, but relatives tend to accumulate." Anonymous

Saddle Strings, Main Camp, Week VII

I was supposed to have an LIT this week, seeing as I had charge of nine juniors, but shortly before camp began, I was informed that my LIT had been transferred elsewhere.

"Oh, well," said the sympathetic assistant program director, "You can hack it."

I'm not sure whether or not to be flattered by this vote of confidence.

However, I did managed to hack it okay, though the first night was a huge pain. I had two homesick criers, one potty run after midnight, and a whole bunch of complaints that sleep was impossible: too much "snoring", it's too hot, it's too dark (this complaint was enhanced with screaming). They were afraid that smoking, swearing boys from Conestoga would break into our cabin at night, and went into giggling hysterics every time someone farted. Several girls had to switch bunks with each other, or flip their head around to face the other way on their bed and it went on and on, well beyond the time when the PD and APD knocked on our door to tell us politely to shut up. I wonder if the APD still believed I could hack it.

I cleverly avoided this the following nights by pointedly ignoring every attempted interruption and complaint while reading them a chapter from a novel each night, until they fell asleep.

Of the nine girls in the cabin, I had some identical twins, several girls that farted in their sleep, one girl I actually still miss, and one girl that I definitely do not miss. Unfortunately, the speaker this week was not terribly good, at least in my opinion. He tended to speak down to the kids and read off a script for everything. It drove my girls (and me) nuts. Neither was his message very evangelistic. Still, we managed to have some good discussions in our cabin. All in all, it was a good week, even with the morning or two where I was trying to hide from my campers.

If you haven't gathered, there was a lot of farting going on, both with my campers and amongst staff. I would come across clusters of cabin leaders (female, no less) huddled together during night games, making farting noises in their elbows and arms. Given my somewhat more reserved nature, Jess Richter cheered the first time I joined in.

Camper #1: We've got a funny cabin!
Camper #2: We've got a gassy cabin!

Me: What was your favourite part of camp?
Camper: I really like the puddle-thingy.
Me: Um, the dugout?
Camper: Yeah!

Probably my favourite complaint of the week:

Camper: "She's stealing my dance moves!"
Me: "It's fine. Your dance moves aren't copyrighted."
Camper: "But it's like the same thing!"

These are the Saddle Stringsters

Tilt, Conestoga, Week VI

You know you have spent too much time at camp when your idea of "showering" and "laundry" both involve a chlorinated pool and precious little else.

Coming off my week of glorious sleep, I was back in a wagon. Again, none of my kids had much, if any, Christian background. This seemed to be a theme with my kids each week. I wonder if God purposefully arranged it that way. Anyway, this was a fun week, even if it was discouraging how no one wanted to talk during cabin devotions.

There were a number of firsts this week. I had to file my first and only incident report this week. It's heartbreaking to learn about the home situations of some kids... On a much happier note, I saw the aurora borealis for the first time, too. It came while we were at campfire - so incredible!

Night games with junior teens are a lot of fun. My campers dragged me out of the bush and up a major hill during a game of "Counsellor Hunt", so I can honestly say that the behemoth-sized bruises I received in resisting them are battle wounds. And I hadn't yet quite got the hang of ripping off people's flags in "Kiss Me Dear", so I'd just hold out my arm and clothesline them instead. It didn't really work to collect flags, but it sure gave me another impressive bruise. A week after I got my beautiful markings, people were still gasping and inquiring concernedly how I had managed to get so beaten up. They were pretty big bruises.

This week, with the exception of my own girls, all of which I dubbed with Old Testament "E" names (and they called me "Esarhaddon"... or "Ear" when their memory failed them), I knew most kids by their last names only, as I was working the tuck shop window all week. And boys kept getting hurt on the floating dock in the dugout, so I'd have to check their wounds to decide whether to send them to shore or not. Without my glasses this effectively meant waving their feet around my nose. It made an odd picture, though not as odd as the one boy I helped off the barbed wire. He had flipped over it by mistake, and was stuck hanging on it upside-down and backwards. Silly children.

I liked all my girls this week, though not all of them liked the idea of being photographed. Several of my girls would whip up their shirts to flash me every time I tried to take a picture in the wagon, so I couldn't get anything usable. And they'd scream out what they were doing as they did it, so everyone from the fire pit to the boys' side was aware of their plan to sleep naked... Oh the joys of being asked by neighbouring cabin leaders if everything is under control.

Camper #1 to Camper #2: "I don't need your criticization!"
Camper #2: "You mean 'criticism'..."

Thankfully, we managed to get a group shot without anyone flashing the camera.

Grandma's House, Regina, Week V

Week off!! Blog post cancelled due to extensive sleep schedule.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." Robert Frost