Summer Lovin’

… had me a blast … 

Summer Camp 2006, the Catskills, New York … quite an entertaining, industrious, and exhausting way to escape the Southern Hemisphere Winter.

Let me start with a confirmation: the stereotypes of Summer Camp as portrayed in countless B grade Hollywood films are 90% accurate. The remaining 10% are surprising and illuminating, like:

– The high proportion of international staff; perhaps one third of the staff here have come from outside North America. We have ze French, English, some Scots, one Kiwi, one Irishman, two Latvians, a few Russians, three Israelis, two Germans, one Spaniard, two Venezualans, and five Aussies (representing Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston, Adelaide, and Albury).

– The Nightlife! The Dutch’s bar, about 5 miles away, receives such excellent patronage from our good selves that they have a 12 seat van (seat is a loose term, since we regularly pack 20 into this booze bus) which delivers and returns us from their fine establishment.

– The hook-ups. No, not a phone call; rather, a term for who’s with who. If you haven’t hooked up with anyone during the first six weeks of camp, you might well be in a minority. Even my division of 10 year old campers are into it. One of them has had either two or three girlfriends so far. Rumour has it he’s going to kiss the current one. Saucy. At the other end of the scale, the delectable female waterfront staff are less than impressed at having to clean up the leftovers of amourous lovers down at the lake of a morning.

– The Soccer. Really must adjust my prejudice towards Americans and soccer. Especially in light of the home team winning the first American v International staff game, 1-0. Their goal was scored by a fabulously talented 14 year old arsehole camper, who the locals quietly slipped into their team without approval, owing to his gift for the game. Fortunately we claimed the honours 2-0 in a rematch last week.

It would be an unfair generalisation to describe Americans as rude, spoilt, and ignorant of other cultures, especially when I have made friends with some who are thoughtful, intelligent, and inquisitive. The latter description may however represent a minority.

I’ve been to a Yankees game, waterslide park, ridden the horses here, played tennis, soccer, softball, chess, bocce, cracked a rib playing volleyball, swam the lake and pools endlessly, made bracelets in Arts & Crafts, failed miserably at hockey, and eaten more fried foods, chicken, cheese, than I could ever have imagined. I’ve made great friends with whom I promise to keep in touch. I’ve had a blast, I’m knackered, I’m ready to move on. After Dutch’s. Once more with feeling.

The altitude of the Catskills Mountains offers minor respite from New York Summer heatwaves. One such sweltering afternoon, the Heads of Camp were absent; it’s the very fine Lenny and I in charge. Major respite needed. An industrial hose? Very cool Lenny. Say, here be a few hundred feet of plastic sheeting under this building … and so a waterslide was improvised.

Standing at the top of the slide, soaked, a fellow group leader turned and observed, as another 30 people simultaneously exploded down the embankment, “this can never grow old”:

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