Tuesday 7th June
1:17pm Just worked out why they waited so long to show me the ‘DJ and radio booth’. It’s not full of cool decks, flashy lights and mixing gear at all. It’s basically a shed structure made from tin sheets, which has enough space to fit five people – at a push. You go through the red door and inside there are two chairs and a desk with a 30cmx30cm mixing deck on and two sets of headphones, and that’s it! I’ve lugged about 200 CDs over to America for this. It actually makes me laugh when I think about how shit it is – I can’t show off to my friends back home about this! So glad Bud’s going to find me something else to do now.
3pm Eugh, the showers and toilets in the bunk are gross. I thought the shared toilets in my university halls were bad, these are fucking disgusting. We have to clean them thoroughly on our hands and knees today. The toilets are normal toilets, but without a seat and none of the doors actually fit properly. If you’re walking through the bathroom you can see into the cubicles through the crack in the door. There’s one bathroom between the two adjoining bunks – which is four toilets and six showers between 32 girls. The showers just have a manky old shower curtain across – some not even that –so there’s no privacy either. There are six sinks; three on each side with a big mirror behind and each bunk has a rack where the girls can put their shampoo and conditioner. We have a little window at each end but no curtains; they both just have netted fly protector. Wow, not looking forward to showering with a load of girls in here, what if they see my bits? Eugh, worse, what if I see theirs?
At breakfast I sat with Emily, Danielle and the other English girls I met on the plane. At the moment everyone seems to be sticking with their nationality, probably because they met on the way over here. In a weird environment like this I guess everyone craves familiarity.
The dining halls are huge and divided into two, one for the younger campers (five to 11) and one for the older ones (12-18). Both are filled with benches and tables set out in rows, just like you see in the high schools on American films. The walls are covered in murals and plaques from years before, and then there’s a big run of windows along one side so you can see outside to the tennis courts. At the front of the hall they have big servers and the kitchen staff, who all seem to be Polish, stand behind and plop out the food onto your plate. You can see them rushing around like mad dogs in the kitchen behind. It must be carnage to work in there feeding 300 children and 200ish staff every day for twelve weeks.
6:47pm The camp director Bud has decided I’ll work up at visual arts and cover radio for one lesson a day so the other guy can have a break. Now that I’ve seen the radio/DJ booth, that suits me fine. He took me up to visual arts, which is about a ten-minute walk from my bunk, along the main path, past all the boys bunks and the front office, to meet the boss lady. She seemed really nice and said she was happy to have me on board. Everyone is so welcoming and kind here, I love it.
I sat next to the ‘Love Me’ trackie bottoms girl from the bus at the visual arts induction, she’s actually pretty funny. She was all worked up about how much we’re expected to do here, with the bunk duties and all the lessons we have to teach at visual arts.
Her: “Listen to em bangin on, what da fuck? Der gonna work us like dogs and pay us in scraps.”
All she wants to do is play on the crazy golf course next to the visual arts building. She came here to be a lifeguard, but has ended up in visual arts and she is not happy.
I stayed up at visual arts for the afternoon – the amount of stuff the kids can do is incredible. Painting, drawing, cartooning, sculpture, calligraphy, photography, ceramics, jewellery, silk-screening, weaving, macramé, needlecraft, batik, tie-dye, stained glass, woodwork, video and leather craft, wow. And they expect me to teach it. Oh dear, need to brush up on my blagging skills, but I’m definitely excited to get to play with it all.
Visual arts is set out like a sweatshop. It’s in an L-shaped shed with just a few exterior walls and pillars holding it up so the fresh air can breeze through. There are one or two long tables in each department with pew-style benches either side, and a cupboard with supplies. It goes from leather at one end, through to woodwork at the other. There’s another visual arts shed down a steep hill where they have silk-screening, photography and video.
We wanted to refresh the décor for this year, so we decided to paint colourful silhouettes – like the iPod adverts – on the walls. I did a handstand against one of them and the trackie bottoms girl, Cara, drew around me. I spent the afternoon painting it in and they actually look pretty good.
9:17pm Had some blue cake at dinner, very weird. It actually turned my mouth blue with all the food colouring. Hope that’s not what the kids eat when they arrive.
Had another staff meeting in the Kennedy Theatre near our bunk after lunch. Earl said another load of counselors would arrive in three weeks, as there are more kids in second and third sessions, and apparently this will be a relatively quiet one. Some kids stay on for two, three or even four sessions, while others just come for one.
Bud explained the head counselors to us. There are six on camp covering different ages. They’re not that much older than me, but I think they’ve all been coming to camp for a while. Bud said if anything gets complicated in any way, or we’re having any problems, we’re to go to them. They’re trained to deal with the kids and the parents and they’ll know if the kids have any special requirements and pass on what we need to know. We’re there to be mothers, sisters, friends, counselors and teachers, but if things get tricky, ask them.
Bud: “You’re in for a great summer. You’ll work harder than you ever have, but you’ll look back when it’s over and wish you could do it all over again.”
Everything sounds brilliant – ahhh, I’m so excited! Oh, they also told us that if any of the kids are feeling homesick they have a camp mum here who’s literally just hired to give the campers love and hugs. How odd. He also said we need to take the beds by the doors and sleep with one eye open to make sure the campers don’t go out at night. I’ll make sure they don’t try anything on my watch.
11:33pm I’ve been a bit confused about this whole ‘shop’ business. At first I thought people were talking about actual shops, but I realised that’s what they call the departments, like rock shop, costume shop and magic shop. I’m glad I managed to work that one out without asking anyone, could’ve been embarrassing.
I’m going to try and get to sleep again in this cold and desolate bunk now. Not really made friends with my bunk buddies yet, I haven’t seen them around in the day and so now it’s just awkward in the evening. They don’t seem too keen on me, I’m trying to tell myself not to be paranoid, but I am. Why don’t they speak to me? I thought we’d all be best friends by now, working together towards this ‘best summer of our lives’ we’re supposed to be having.