My week of daycamp and vacation is over now, and I would like another. I just love daycamp, but it has changed a bit since the last time I volunteered (ten years ago).
The sheer amount of kids we had this year did make it a little hard to have lots of good conversations but it was great all the same. I keep trying to think back to when I was a camper myself, and it just seemed like it was less rushed and frantic back then. But it probably only seemed like that because I was a kid myself and wasn’t trying to herd an unruly throng of squirmy children to the next thing without losing anyone.
Still, the fundamental aspects of daycamp were still there (and will never not be). It is a week of yelling and screaming and excitement and cuties, songs stuck in your head and that one bad kid trying to set things on fire. As sure as there’s the one bad kid, though, there’s the one that captures your heart especially.
I don’t know why I love it so much. For someone like me who cherishes peace and order and predictability, daycamp should be a nightmare as it is the opposite of all these things (despite the best of planning). But everything I normally do is quiet and orderly, so daycamp stirs it all up a little. It is a splash of neon in the beautiful brown-and-beige damask pattern that is my life.
People reacted like I was a martyred saint when I said I’d use a week of vacation time to do daycamp, but it wasn’t like that. I did it for me because I love it. It’s only a few hours of true chaos, and the rest is just hangout— not a bad way to spend holiday time. Sitting at the registration desk with Sammy every morning was the best, for there is no one better with whom to gush over cute babies.
My “good kid” was a sweet little fiery girl who was always smiling. She arrived on the Wednesday with a backpack and said to me, “I made something for you!” and goes on to pull out a big card. Of course I told her how touched I was, but anyone would have. She has no way of knowing that I’m exactly the type of person who keeps things like that forever. That it really will bring be back from a terrible day sometime; I’ll read it again in a fit of teary, downtrodden frustration and remember that a little girl thought I was awesome. And that it took her “basically almost forever” to choose which paper to use.
And the bad kid—well, I shouldn’t say “bad kid.” Fifty hours into Loveline archives, I now view him more tragically than I ever would have in previous years. The cards are already stacked against him and he makes life hard for himself without understanding why. I feel intimately that it would take an intervening act of God for him to not turn out as a violent criminal. And it may be my “there are no coincidences” slanted outlook and nothing more, but his name itself seemed like a signal for me personally. Like a flag. Like a Shofar. Like I need to keep him in mind.
It’s too bad they don’t do two daycamps per summer anymore. I’d do another, happily.