Thursday 23rd June
9:02am Every mealtime we have to queue outside the doors to get in the dining hall. It’s so cold in the mornings and we’re all there in pyjama bottoms and hoodies desperate to get in to the warm. The dewy grass tickling your feet through your flip-flops and the brisk morning air is not what you want first thing. Even when it’s raining they only let you inside when all your bunk is there and you’re being quiet and sensible. It’s poo.
1:58pm Down at waterfront they have a massive inflatable iceberg and a huge trampoline, it’s incredible. If the kids see a counselor there you can bet all they want to do is race you. Get down there at the wrong time though, and you’ll be spending your whole free trying to boost the fat kids up. It’s painful: they’re pushing their trotters in your face while you’re trying to stay afloat. The handles rip your hands and feet on the way up – it’s worth it though to make it to the top. It must be about 30-foot high and looking around up there, you can see how remote the camp is in the valley. Trees surround us and you can’t see another building for miles. Then you just take a deep breath, hold your nose and leap off the top screaming, feeling the rush of air over your body before you slap into the water.
The head lifeguard woman down there is scary. She struts around like Pammy off Baywatch with her high-leg swimsuit and long flowing locks. That’s in her mind anyway. In reality she’s about 60 and her ratty grey hair peeks out from under her cap. She’s the one who gave me the filthy look when I got lost on the first day. She went mental at Cara and me yesterday for messing around on the diving board. She made us sit on the naughty step…
Cara: “But, we’re…”
Lifeguard: “BE. QUIET.”
Me: “Erm, excu…”
Lifeguard: “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.”
Campers: “They’re counselors!”
7:16pm My camper Keakuki breaks my heart. At meal times she rushes to the end of the table to scramble for any post from her parents, but there’s never anything. The other girls get mail daily, but she hasn’t had one thing since we started. She sits at dinner all sad and forlorn afterwards, with a look of hatred on her face as the other girls open their letters of love. I just want to put my arm around her, but I think she’d go crazy at me if I did thinking I was patronising her. She doesn’t like to show weakness and puts on a tough exterior, but she sat there today looking like steam was about to blow from her ears.
11:18pm I’ve just been chatting to one of my campers, Joey. She absolutely loves it here and is a really talented singer, but she said this is her last year because her parents have told her she needs to concentrate on her studies. She’s 13 and they want her to be a lawyer. She’d love to travel when she’s older, but she says there’s no chance of her parents ever letting her.
Joey: “They’d never let me get a job because they want me to concentrate on school, but there’s no way they’d give me any money to go abroad either.”
My parents haven’t told me what to do since I was about 12 and they wouldn’t. I know they coach and coax me around to their way of thinking, but they’d never give a definite instruction, they know it wouldn’t work. I hate hearing about overly pushy parents. It’s sad that gap years aren’t big in America. I know there’s some ridiculously high percentage of Americans that don’t even own a passport – they need to learn that there’s more to the world than just them.