I know what camp is. It’s Kirsty Alley and Steve Guttenberg getting messed around by the Olsen twins in the wilderness. It’s the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato doing all the feelings in the wilderness. It’s Lindsay Lohan completely losing her shit, and meeting herself in cabin in the wilderness and then trying to get her parents back together. Something like that. These were the results of my extensive research. Wilderness dramaz. Eeerrrgh.
In an attempt to further my research, and to just be a generally less useless human being in this world, I volunteered to be a camp leader at the Seongam International Youth Camp this weekend. A camp in the Korean wilderness where the brightest middle-school students in the province get to ‘share in other people’s cults.’ And I was one such cult sharer. I shared it good. (Debatable)
As the only Kiwi out of thirty international camp leaders, – a bunch of just stupidly delightful Canadians, Americans, Brits, Irish and South African folk – the task of being a sole ambassador for New Zealand could seem daunting. But aside from a quick presentation, a youtube clip of the haka, and an incessant and slightly obnoxious desire to bring my jar of Marmite down for breakfast; I think my general Kiwi charm and razor-sharp wit was enough. Too bad it was lost on my students. And too bad I’m not all that charming. And too bad acting like a complete barmy idiot doesn’t exactly qualify as wit; but rather a lack of it. Okay, so maybe my methods left much to be desired; but my intentions were good, and at least I gave an honest portrayal of what an individual shaped by the Kiwi culture might look like. However questionable the sample.
So I had fun. And you know how much I hate to write about all the fun. It squeezes all the juicy fun out of it. What I will say though, is that all my prior knowledge of what a school camp was – not that; ‘pitch a tent in the NZ wilderness, chuck your beers in your DIY river fridge, biff some sausies on the barbie’ kinda camp – were actually no use to me in this instance. Not a lick of drama, not an ounce of stress, not worry in the world. We hiked, we sang, we played, we danced, we hugged, we huddled around a fire, we ate, we drank, we were merry. And I’ve never felt so damn appreciated. I mean, I’ve kind of come to get used to the immense appreciation and respect that Koreans tend to show us foreign teachers, but this weekend was on another level entirely. And on top of this was the incredible nature of the kids. These were all kids who wanted to learn more about English speaking cultures. They wanted to be there, they wanted to spend time with us. They were genuinely interested in who we were, where we came from and what we had to say; and all this lent towards creating the most amazing environment to be a part of. What I did learn about camps though, is that their true worth, is in the friendships we make and the stories we share; all of which can only be learnt through experience.
So sap, sap, sap, yap, yap, yap; I loved camp, so there.
Items on my bucket list seem to be dropping like flies these days.