Part 5 of 7 – My experience at Camp Quest Ohio

Day 5, Wednesday 22JUN2011

Followed the usual morning drill – up at 0630hrs, shower and then back in the rack for a cat-nap until the kids had to get up at 0730hrs. Everyone was up at the dining hall by 0800hrs where we did the morning cheers and the Wii yoga move of the day. Breakfast ended with two freethinker profiles (unfortunately I forgot which two by the time I got around to updating my journal) and then the staff had to fill out their release forms for the canoe trip down the Little Miami river. I went back to the cabin to get ready and help the kids get their stuff together for the trip – sunblock, bathing suits, bug spray, hats, towels, etc. Everyone gathered in a big circle on the activity field – a rather smart innovation that allowed Shawn to address everyone at once without his message being lost on “people in the back” – and we listened to a briefing on the travel logistics. Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures ran the trip and picked us all up in two large school buses. We took a thirty minute trip to Morgan’s on the Little Miami river and piled out for our pre-trip briefing from one of Morgan’s experienced staff members.

The briefing was pretty detailed and included all sorts of information about safety and what we could expect along the ride. After the briefing we got our life vests, picked up our oars, went to the launch point and chose a partner to ride with. I ended up riding with Dr. Clare. We started at the rear of the pack, but since the majority of the boats were populated by a counselor and one (or more) kids, we Canoeing - Camp Quest Ohio 2011ended up gliding to the front pretty easily. This also gave us a chance to patrol all of the boats for sick kids – only one group required any appreciable attention. I also got a chance to hit Dr. Clare up with tons of medical questions. She loves talking about that stuff as much as I like hearing about it, so it was basically an awesome trip in every way possible. At the halfway point we pulled our canoes out of the water and had lunch – frozen Uncrustables (is there any other way to eat them?!), Fritos, carrot slices, apples and Gatorade.

The second half of the canoeing trip was pretty much like the first except the water got a little choppy in some places. From talking to the other counselors, the river was much higher and calmer this year. Apparently they had some pretty exciting rides in the past. Eventually we made it to the exit point and helped haul canoes out of the water as everyone else arrived. We were all a bit worn out by the time we boarded the buses and it was nice to just sit there and watch the scenery go by. Fortunately downtime was scheduled right after we got back and most of the kids (including me) took naps while a few others played Mao.

Two hours of activities were next. The first hour consisted of Science with Stan, Socrates Cafe - Camp Quest Ohio 2011a nature walk, life discussion with Dr. Katie, and reading in the cafeteria. About 50% of the camp, including staff, attended Socrates Cafe and the rest of the camp more or less evenly distributed themselves over the other activities.

Stan’s science program was on giant rope bubbles and looked like it was a lot of fun. Some of the bubbles were large enough to jump in and float away. As much as I wanted to divide myself over all of the programs, I decided to spend the majority of my time listening to the life discussions. The topics reflected a wide range of concerns on the part of these kids and it was impressive to see the ways they learned to deal positively with some very difficult situations. I cannot recall being this articulate and introspective when I was that age.

Slacklining - Camp Quest Ohio 2011The second hour of activities was oriented towards sports. I spent my time helping to supervise the archery activity while other campers participated in slacklining, tie dying, and whatever games (including Ga Ga Ball) anyone wanted to get going. There appeared to be a more or less even distribution of campers participating in all of these activities.

Next came dinner, which ended with a really informative discussion on Buddhism and a rousing episode of “Mail Call”. Tonight’s song was “I’m a Little Tea Pot”. The singers did great, despite the unique “acoustics” of the dining hall. Everyone applauded the performers and then we headed back to our cabins to work on the skits.

The previous skit practice showed some real signs of progress and we built on that today. The boys were on a roll and I was in stitches because I was laughing so hard. It is hard to tell if I was looking at individual talent or just some emergent phenomenon, but I really felt like I was watching comedic genius at work. I figured I could only get in the way at that point, so I purposely limited my involvement to writing down their ideas and subtly directing them back on topic when things started to veer off course. By the time we were done, the basic shape of the skit had taken form, but we still had a lot of the details to fill in.

Since tonight was movie night, we all went up to the pavilion area to hang out until the movie started. The dunk tank was in full force when I got up there and the rest of the kids were milling about playing games or just generally socializing. Dunk Tank - Camp Quest Ohio 2011I helped a few counselors hang up tie-dye projects on a makeshift clothesline and caught up with Sarah Menon to talk about her upcoming inaugural Camp Quest Chesapeake session. They have done a dizzying amount of planning and have some really cool activities lined up. I think their camp is going to be an amazing experience.

Tonight’s movie was “How to Train a Dragon”, an animated feature about a kid overcoming fears and correcting age old misconceptions. One of our eight year old campers found the dragons to be a bit too scary so a few of us hung out with him in the dining hall until the movie was over. We had a great time socializing while the camper drew up a few “masterpieces” for us in his chosen medium – crayon and paper.

Sleepout Aftermath - Camp Quest Ohio 2011After the movie, we all set up the pavilion for the sleep-out. Normally this would have been done out on the activity field, but it was raining cats and dogs (and probably frogs and snakes). About 50% of the campers opted to do the sleep-out and the rest went back to their cabins for the night.

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