Waterfront was insane today; we had to do swim tests for all 140 kids and rank them 0-4 by skill level. It wouldn't have been so hard if the lake were on camp property, but the kids have to be bused to it and the minibuses only hold 14 at a time, so that was tedious, even though we didn't have to drive them. We had long breaks in the middle which we used for critiquing one another's swim strokes, cracking jokes about Winfield (our lone male guard)'s newly christened fishing boat ("Esther"), arguing over who was going to attempt to pull the sunken, algae-covered cinderblock up from the bottom (nobody yet), debating the intricacies of the 0-4 scale, and, in my case, rescuing Barbara's sunglasses from the bottom of the lake. But all the kids got in the water with almost no hesitation, regardless of ability level - that's one of the good things about being at a camp with boys. I was having fun with a few of them on the bus back; they're very talkative and thrilled to be here. I talked to one ten-year-old from Canada who speaks fluent French. What a cool country, to have bilingual education.
There was one first-year kid, David, about 15 years old, whom I noticed was keeping himself apart from everyone else - twirling sticks around, whacking at plants, etc. He didn't look at anyone or talk to any of the other boys, and it seemed 'off' to me, so I tried to intervene before he set a precedent. The way he moved the sticks seemed practiced, almost like a baton twirler, so I walked next to him and asked (the first thing that came into my head) if he did capoeira. He didn't know what it was, but when I told him it was a martial art from Brazil, he eventually (in as few words as possible) told me he had done tae kwon do for a while. When we got back to camp, I saw David walking silently at the very end of a row of chattering boys, so I sped up and positioned myself at the opposite end of the row (so that I'd have to talk across all of them) and, at a lull in the conversation, asked him some more questions about tae kwon do. He actually smiled a little when giving the answers and explaining some things to me, and I was hoping that having the other boys there would encourage one of them to get interested and ask him some questions too, but unfortunately nobody did. Oh, well - I've let a couple of the male staff know about him, and I'll keep my eyes open. He seems like a sweet kid, but he also seems like this might be his first time away from home for an extended period. People deal with things like that in different ways, and he seems to be internalizing. Hopefully things will get better for him.
Note: this camp actually drives the kids' luggage up to their dorm rooms by golf cart. Unbelievable. (That was my task this morning during the kids' arrival.) No work for the parents at all! And they can't scrape up a little more moolah for the counselors?!?! ;)