And a couple of the other counselors are really starting to piss me off. There's this one girl, Vicki, who's never worked at a camp before, and yet when I mentioned that one of my campers (Margaret, the new girl) was at the nurse, Vicki waved her hand and whispered in a know-it-all fashion, "She's just homesick."
"No, she was actually sick before she came, and just finished a course of antibiotics on Sunday. She's still got a terrible cough and a headache."
Vicki shook her head, with a half-smile and that annoying, I-know-better-than-you, I-still-don't-think-she's-really-sick look. Finally I just snapped, "You can believe what you want, but she is truly sick," and walked away to talk to someone else. What I really wanted to say is, "You know, I have five years of camp counselor experience, while you have two days' worth. I know when a child is faking it, and your being a second-year nursing student does not make you an authority on a camper of mine that you've never even met!" But, of course, I didn't say that. She sits at my table, so it's better not to get too deeply into it. However, the 'real' camp nurse (not Vicki, the student who pretends she's a full-fledged nurse but has never even heard of lupus, the autoimmune disease that my roomie Mel has) confirmed for me that Margaret really is still having problems with congestion, etc., so I was right. Margaret has been to other camps before, longer than this one; she's comfortable away from home, and she's made some good friends here already. If I wanted Vicki's opinion, which I didn't, I'd have asked.
And then there's "the other Jess". There are three at this camp - me, this other Jess (who's one of the three evening program planners), and Jesse, the baseball director (who is awfully cute... LOL). Anyway, "the other Jess" has been here three years, and, granted, she does know a lot about the camp and how it's run, but my hackles went up within ten seconds of meeting her. I place a lot of stock in pheromones and first impressions, and I knew from the first moment I met her that we were not going to get along. She hasn't really done anything outright mean, but we just don't click. And tonight, I was putting my last two girls to bed, including Jordan, a veteran camper who had just had candy from Snack Shack and was thus very hyper. And Jess walked right over me, saying, "Time for bed, Jordan, let's go," and hustling her along. Then, out of the side of her mouth, she said to me, "That's the one good thing; they do at least listen to me."
Excuse me?! The first thing that I wanted to say was, "Uh, they listen to me too!" but I realized how juvenile that would sound, so I kept my mouth shut. The fact is, Jordan is loud and easily excitable, sure, but she's been here before; she knows the drill, listens to the counselors, and follows instructions. It's not as if "the other Jess" has some magical power to make campers listen, just because she's been at this particular camp for longer than I have. And Jordan is my camper, not hers. All I had to do was look her (Jordan) in the eye and say, "It seriously is time for bed now," and she calmed right down and nodded at me (in a way that said, louder than any actual words, "I'm not really out of control; I know I have to go to sleep; I'm just just having fun stalling.") I understood, smiled and nodded back, ready to close the door. And again Jess came walking over me, "Okay, for real, Jordan, go to bed, let's get moving." She gently pushed her inside her room and closed the door.
At that moment, I had to walk away, because I was about to say something I would have regretted. It's better not to piss off the people in power. But if anything like that happens again, I need to find a concise way to say something like, "You know, you've been at this camp longer than I have, but I do have a ton of camp experience - actually more than you - and I know what I'm doing. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me handle my own girls instead of walking over me as if I'm incompetent. The girls need to respect all of us, not just you, so please don't try to do my job for me."
On the other hand, being in a dorm setting rather than separate cabins, things are just done differently here. Maybe it's perfectly normal to be telling girls other than your own assigned campers that they should go to bed. Maybe I'm the one with the problem. But like I said, my hackles went up about Jess on the first day of camp, and I didn't like what she did to me tonight, whether it's normal or not. Sigh.
I also haven't gotten particularly close to anyone here yet. Well, okay, my roommate Mel and I are fairly close, and I've gotten to know a couple of other people (Laura, John, Meghan...), and I like almost everyone aside from the aforementioned two girls, but it still seems like every time I start to get a little closer to someone or we start to talk a little more, that person then sort of pulls away and doesn't seek me out the way I do him/her. I've complained about this before when it comes to friendship - me having to make all the effort - and this has now happened three or four times already, with staff members of both sexes. I thought Mandy in particular would be a good friend, after we discovered that we'd swum in meets against each other's schools, but she seems to be cooling off towards me now. I'm really starting to wonder if I'm saying or doing something that makes people not want to be friends with me. But maybe I'm just paranoid.
To end on a good note, a few things I do like about this camp:
1) Counselors having separate rooms from campers
2) Having modern showers, toilets, and sinks right down the hall
3) The food
4) Being surrounded by athletes with similar mindsets
5) The Internet access
6) The athletic facilities, especially the access to weights and treadmills
7) The low camper-counselor ratio
8) Having other water sports besides just swimming and canoeing
9) Being in a blue state (awesome bumper stickers around here :))
And despite my complaining, my schedule is actually pretty easy:
A day: (1) riding, (2) off, (3) waterfront, (4) waterfront (boat), (5) golf cart
B day: (1) golf cart, (2) off, (3) golf cart, (4) waterfront (boat), (5) golf cart
So I take our ONE camper who takes riding class over to the beautiful neighboring Camp Laurel and read/kill time while she takes a lesson... I lug water coolers from place to place on the golf cart and refill water stations... and I ride along on the waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding boats as the 'official lifeguard' while the kids (one by one, all in life jackets) take turns at the various activities. (I haven't had to teach swimming yet, but that might come tomorrow, in period 3A, depending on which of the lifeguards has that period off and which of them take the morning boat shifts.) So it's not hard at all. And yet... somehow I'm not thrilled to be slacking off. The bottom line is, I was hired to be a lifeguard and swim instructor, not golf cart driver and hurry-up-and-wait gal. I've told this to all the appropriate people, and they did at least get me on the waterfront for three periods (out of ten), but that's still pretty ridiculous. I don't hate the camp, not by a long shot, but one week has passed and I now have the answer to my internal question: I do not think I will be coming back next year.
Big, big sigh.