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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Camp EAGR 2013

One more year at camp has come and gone. It was amazing as always.

It started, as always, with the rejoicing and reuniting of the returning counselors, welcoming some new counselors - who by the way were all AWESOME, unpacking everything into the health lodge, doing some team building with the counselors, training in the dining hall, and then a night on the town in "downtown" Warsaw. (Downtown is in quotes because downtown Warsaw NY is about a 1-block area.)

Sunday was the annual trip to the Silverlake Diner, who was expecting us thanks to a call from yours truly a week earlier, and a last minute trip to Walmart to pick up any supplies that were left at home, maybe decorations for cabins, and some minor "contraband". (Food and other supplies that the kids are not allowed to have, but that us counselors tend to bring with us,)

Then, time to welcome the kids. I had 5 kids in my cabin this year, aged 15-17, and 1 co-counselor who was actually a camper of mine only a few years ago. And of course, they gave me my usual cabin. (Which is also one of the nicest cabins, but is at the top of the hill - and coincidentally, the highest point in Wyoming county.)

I knew most of my kids from previous years - 2 were in my cabin last year, as well as a few times before that, 1 I had many times previously but not last year, and 1 I had never had, but had been at camp before. The last one was new. At 16 years old, he was spending his first week at Camp EAGR. By Monday night, he was already talking about returning next year.

We also started a new camp within a camp this year. This was the first year that we had a "Young Adult Camp" which has been tentatively named camp COAST. The name is not yet official, but that is the name that was thought of this week. The name includes the last initial of the 5 young adults who attended the first ever camp this summer, and the acronym tentatively stands for Camp Of Adult Skills Training. Again, all parts of this are subject to change, but the camp itself was really cool. All of the young adults in this camp were my campers over the past 2 years, and some of my campers from this year will likely attend the young adult camp next year. (Which has already been funded for next year!)

These kids got to do the high ropes course (Camp EAGR only does low ropes,) they went white water rafting at Letchworth State Park, and they learned some life skills that can be used in many different areas of life. Since these guys were stationed in the cabin next to mine, I took some time one night to teach them some strategies for starting a good fire. From lighting some birch bark, to getting some small twigs to light, to controlling airflow, and how to build it up once you have a nice base fire and some hot coals.

As I said before leaving I have more stories than can be held by any blog, so I will touch on some highlights of the rest of the week.

Nature was AMAZING! They had a 17-year old YMCA staff person handling the nature activities, and he was ridiculous smart. I have been going to this camp for 20 years now, and he taught ME things that I didn't know. He showed us plants that we had never seen, showed us some edible ones and some to avoid at all costs. (For the record, if you see a berry in the woods that looks like an eye - white with a small black dot in the center - stay away. As little as 2-3 of these can kill you.) We even found a plant that is hollow like bamboo, and he showed us MANY uses for this one plant. (Which, according to an EAGR counselor, is an invasive species from Japan.)

On our second nature activity, he took us to the hollow tree, which many of us have done before, but while we were there he showed us how to make a fire and had the kids roast marshmallows. We couldn't go into the hollow tree this year because there is a hive of honey bees in the tree now, and since the bees are endangered they were not allowed to kill or relocate the bees. Toby, our nature guide, said that the bees will likely be there for a long time because they are in a part of the tree which has a lot of access in and out, but yet they will stay warm and safe from predators.

Our campers enjoyed arts and crafts a lot this year. We had many different things to do and, as always with the older groups, the guys made things for the girls, and vice-versa.

We did fishing for the first time that I recall. The person running the fishing activity had some live minnows to use as bait for bass, and the kids fished with worms and caught some smaller fish. When a bass was on the line, the Y-staffer allowed the kids to real it in. One of the bass we caught was 2-feet long!

I saw a few snakes this year. 2 under the deck at the health lodge when we got there on Saturday, and 2 while we were fishing. One was a garter snake, the other was a black water snake. Not sure what the 2 under the health lodge were, but we saw one of them sticking out his tongue. One of the nurses found a fully intact snake skin and put it in a plastic bag. That was pretty awesome to see.

The opening and closing camp fires were pretty awesome. Mostly because some of the Camp EAGR staff did songs and skits to add to what the Y-staff usually does.

Some of the not-so-good...

The food. It has been a while since I've complained about the food at camp. Our cook over the last 5 years or so was AMAZING. Yes, it was still camp food, so it was always nice to get home and have a real meal. However, I could consider that food.

Not this year. One day we got tomato sauce in a bowl, and some hamburger buns, and they called it "Sloppy Joe". No, Sloppy Joe has a small thing called meat in it. This sauce had little or no meat. The meat loaf was hardly recognizable as such, the baked oatmeal literally looked like it had come out of someone's back side, and they even found a way to ruin taco day by making us go to the salad bar to get the lettuce, cheese, and other fixings besides meat and beans. That made the tacos take about 20 minutes to make, because the salad line was so long. Plus, this year we did family style instead of buffet style, and since they didn't put the food on warmers after it was prepared, we often received cold food. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful to get some Moe's at the end of our counselor meeting on Saturday.

My only seizure this week was during the closing camp fire on Friday night. I was called up to participate in a skit, and started into a simple partial seizure about halfway through. Luckily I wasn't an active part in the skit, so it didn't effect much as far as that was concerned. However, I did sit down after the skit, and did not participate in the dancing and other shenanigans for the rest of the fire. Also, my leg was already sore from all of the walking throughout the week, so after the seizure my right leg was to the point where I could hardly walk on it. I took a ride up the hill to the cabin for the first time in many years, and I went to bed relatively early that night.

There are probably plenty more good things to say, and a few more not so good things, but I would need so much more time to write about all of it. As always, I am tired, and sore, and glad to be home. But at the same time, I wish I could go back tomorrow after catching up on some sleep and healing up a bit.

I have pictures if I can find my camera. I'm pretty sure it's in the pocket of whatever pants I was wearing Friday night. I'll post pics when/if I find it.

Some of the "unofficially official" pictures from camp this year:

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