Part 3 of 7 – My experience at Camp Quest Ohio

Day 3, Monday 20JUN2011

Woke up at 0630hrs again and was surprised to find all of the showers full. I guess I was not the only one who figured it was a good idea to get out in front of the 7:30am tidal wave of sleepy kids.

By 0800hrs everyone had been shepherded out of bed and up to the dining hall to do the pre-breakfast gathering. The girls ended up being late, so after the cabin cheers and the Wii Fit Yoga move of the day, the boys got to enter the dining hall first. After breakfast August Brunsman did his very best to make some announcements without actually using the word “announcements”. It was to no avail though as the campers picked up on the message and started singing the announcements song:

Announcements, announcements, announcements.

A terrible way to die.

A terrible way to die.

A terrible death to be talked to death, a terrible way to die.

Announcements, announcements, announcements.

After the “announcements”, which generally consisted of what the plan was for the day, the campers went down to the cabin area with a few counselors to work on cleaning their cabins. The rest of the staff gathered behind the dining hall for the morning staff meeting where decisions were made about who would stay back with the kids in the evening (rather than hanging out with the rest of the staff around the campfire), who was on night watch and any other important “heads-up” information that needed to be disseminated. I should point out that each counselor was required to stay back one night and do a night watch at some point during the week. Night watches consisted of a male and a female counselor who would patrol the entire camp at specific intervals. Usually there were enough volunteers on any given night that it was only necessary to do one set of rounds.

After the staff meeting broke up, we all went back to our cabin areas to help the campers clean. As expected, I found a cabin full of campers in a veritable cleaning frenzy, leaving no surface untouched! It was truly a sight to behold… (Cue the sound of a needle scratching a record) Actually no, not even close. When I walked into the cabin it was pitch black and all of the campers were sound asleep. I decided that the best course of action was to do the same thing.

We rousted out of our slumber shortly before 1000hrs and went up to the pavilion to do the educational programming. Like yesterday, each cabin was paired with another cabin of the same age group and the larger group rotated between two thirty minute presentations.

The first program was a class on evolution put on by Stan. I have studied evolution at the collegiate level and I was truly impressed with what Stan was able to fit into a thirty minute class. He started with basic genetics, describing how Humans have 46 chromosomes and great apes (our closest ancestors) have 48 chromosomes. He then explained this difference by showing how a common ancestor of Apes and Humans had fused two chromosome pairs, which reduced the overall number of chromosomes from 48 to 46 in Humans. He then went on to explain the concept of natural selection and how successful mutations were kept and unsuccessful mutations died quickly. Finally he used all of that knowledge to describe the small increments that went into the evolution of the eye. It was really impressive to see so much, presented so well, in so little time. I can only imagine what he can do during a whole school year.

The next thirty minute program was put on by Cambridge, a female counselor who is also a mortuary science student, on the topic of Funeral rituals. The presentation included a slide show and described many cultural approaches to death including Christian, Jewish, Asian and African tribal customs. I had no idea that there was that much out there on the subject of funeral rituals and found her presentation to be very interesting. Probably one of the most interesting funeral customs involved a tribe that cremated the deceased and then kept the ashes around for a full year. After the one year waiting period, they would mix the ashes into a creamy drink and everyone in the tribe would drink some. Pretty neat, huh!

Once the educational programs were done, our team from yesterday got together under the pavilion for team games. Today’s team assignment was an artistic challenge. We got one very large sheet of paper, one roll of tape and a box of crayons. Our job was to create a dress, for a fashion show that best reflected our team name (which we decided yesterday was “The Bobs”). We had 25 minutes to come up with our dress and then all the teams dressed their models for the fashion show. Everyone gathered for the show along a runway made of bubble wrap and the “models” stood in line at the end of the runway. An MC (Shawn) did the announcing and there were three “American Idol” style judges. After all of the models “walked the runway”, they were introduced by their counselor and the judges got to ask them questions. Winners were announced after lunch.

Once we cleaned up from the “fashion show” everyone made their way to the dining hall for lunch. After lunch was over, August made some “announcements” and then we had a brief presentation on Greek Mythology. Normally it would now be pool time, but there was too much thunder and lightning, so we spent pool time under the pavilion playing board games or just hanging out. This unstructured play time was a lot of fun and I would recommend any camp try to include it somehow. I ended up playing several games of chess with a few kids and even one counselor.

We ended the unstructured time and want back to our cabins for down-time. Some kids (and counselors) napped while others played cards. It was pretty low key and definitely good for the campers. Activity time was next, broken up into the usual one hour blocks. The first block was made up of Socrates Cafe, line dancing with Fran and John, and science Olympiad with Stan.

Today’s Socrates Cafe topic was “what is morality and ethics”. I was impressed with how quickly it got interesting as everyone started playing off of each other. I spent a while watching the banter and then took a walk through the dining hall to see Fran and John’s line dancing lessons. Everyone was having a really fun time working up a sweat. Stan’s science project was to see who could build the largest tower out of a limited set of materials. Everyone was given 15 plastic drinking straws and two feet of tape. I saw lots of good ideas, but the best part was the way certain ideas seemed to spread through the groups of tower builders. As one builder stumbled on something that worked, the rest would use it and then build upon it.

The second hour of activities included Socrates Cafe, kickball, archery and tie dye and then it was time for dinner. At the end of dinner we had the first mail call. Camp had been going long enough that mail for the campers started to trickle in. In order to get your mail, you had to come up to the front of the dining hall and sing for it. I think today’s song was “I’m a little teapot”.

After dinner a big game of Capture the Flag was organized. First the older kids played and then the younger kids played. I ended up playing in both games because hey, who can resist Capture the Flag!

Campfire was the final event of the evening. It ended up being a “hair auction”. A few of the staff agreed to have their hair (head or mustache) shaved as a fundraiser for the camp. The kids were originally instructed to bring $5.00, which they were able to pool together in order to win the right to do the shaving/cutting. Some of the staff members also got into the act and a bidding war erupted. I forget where things ended up, but it got pretty exciting after a while.

The kids finally went to bed at 2230hrs. All counselors were expected to stay in the cabin area, rather than come back to the campfire to hang out. Several of us made a circle and talked about all sorts of things well into the night. I made it to 0200hrs, but there were a few who made it longer.

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