Camp Excite and Being In the Nature

I spent July 14-19 at Camp Excite, an English language camp for teenagers in my oblast (state). We had an excellent time!

It was the most ‘real’ camping I’ve ever done. By real, I mean that there were no showers, outhouses, or permanent structures in the area. The toilet facilities consisted of a trench with wooden boards to squat on (or the second option, which was to find a nice tree to squat next to, somewhere away from the smelly trenches). We bathed and washed our dishes in the river. For those familiar with my sense of humor and my joy for showering on a non-daily basis, you can imagine how much I loved the week. The only downside to being “in the nature”  is that my tentmate and I shared our tent with many ants. Thankfully, they were not the biting kind.

HeaddressHanging out with Virginia, one of the co-directors of the camp. The glow on our faces is just from excitement and good health, right?  Campers made the beautiful headdress I am wearing.

The best part, of course, was the people! Getting to know the 30 enthusiastic campers was the highlight of the week.  They were excited, engaged in activities, and they did chores like chopping wood without complaint (!).  Other highlights included:

  • Each day, campers learned about a new country, learned an American sport, and participated in an ‘interest group.’ My interest group was creative writing, and together with another (fantastic) counselor, we worked with a talented group of campers on haikus, tankas, “I Am” poems, tall tales, and free writing. I also helped teach baseball and I co-taught a lesson about Sweden.
  • Campers were broken into 6 teams, and played games together to win points throughout the week. Each team had two counselors and 5-6 campers. My team, the Purple Funky Monkeys, won the overall competition!

Purple Funky MonkeysPurple Funky Monkeys singing and dancing our theme song

  • We played a game of counselor hide-and-go-seek, where the counselors hid and the campers got points for every counselor they found. I ‘won’ the game because nobody was able to find me (I hid under a large tree branch that had fallen down, and I wore dark clothes). Laying in dirt for an hour with mosquitoes buzzing around? All in the name of the game!
  • A team of chefs cooked tasty meals for us. Any week that involves no responsibility for cooking is a great week, in my book. I was also impressed with their ability to cook for 45 people over a large firepit.
  • Every day ended with a campfire. A great way to unwind before bed.
  • The 12 counselors and 2 camp directors I worked with were seriously hilarious.

Counselor goofy photoCounselor Goofy Photo. A great group!

* A brief note on “in the nature.” One day, long, long, ago, someone translated being outside/getting fresh air/hanging out in the woods as being “in the nature.” This translation was spread throughout an entire educational system. Therefore, Ukrainians  frequently will talk about being  ”in the nature” during the summer, if they are speaking in English. I love this phrase! It also makes me pause and reflect on how words, beliefs and ideas can be  created, spread, and become part of the fabric of a society, for better or for worse.

Thanks to all the people who took the photos in this entry, and whose photos I stole from Facebook.

Happy to take any comments!