Terrified

For seven years, I worked for YMCA Camp Abnaki. Over that time, I’ve come across thousands of kids in various capacities, but there are some that you just don’t forget, and some that you look forwards to every year. This is the case with Daniel Murphy – he and his brother were both campers in my cabin, and in my village over several years while I was there. Both siblings were bright and highly interested in Star Wars, which made them very fun to talk to, and I remember Daniel bringing comics and books with him to camp to read.

I just recieved an e-mail from Jon, the camp’s director saying that Daniel was hit by a car on Thursday night, and is in a coma up in Burlington. I’ve since inquired to see if there are any visiting hours for him. News articles that I’ve found since then indicated that he’s in serious but stable condition, but is still unconscious.  Hopefully there will be something that I can do. In my time here at camp, I’ve seen two of my former campers pass away – once while I was away in England, and another during the spring of my senior year. It’s horrible to see happen, and these were kids who had extremely bright futures ahead of them. I don’t want to attend another funeral.

I’m absolutely devestated at hearing this news, and I really hope that Daniel pulls through soon. Hopefully, I’ll hear more soon.

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Going Home for the Last Time

Last night, after I did a 501st Troop in Burlington, I went up to Camp Abnaki to visit briefly. I’ve been up a handful of times over the past couple of years, ever since I didn’t go back, to see people and the place, and while I find simply being there relaxing, I feel like I’ve been placed at arms length from it, and there’s a separation between me and the place where I spent a lot of time over the past decade.

I can’t really put my finger on exactly what is – I think that it’s actually a number of reasons. One, I can count the number of people that I did know really well on my hands, a far cry from when I could name every single staff member just by a silhouette at night time. That’s how familiar people are with one another, or at least I was, and it’s very, very weird to go back to visit, and to see a lot of very new faces. This is something to be expected, and even while I was in my last couple of years, the core group of people that I went to camp with for the first couple of years was diminishing as people found better jobs and other things to do to occupy their summer.

There also seems to be some mismanagement, if I can be totally candid. The current problems with the economy isn’t helping things, and the session that I saw last night was a lot smaller than is usually was, and as a result, Abnaki has had to cut back on their budget. Even more troubling is the stories that I’ve heard that there are misplaced priorities, such as focusing on the camp store rather than lifeguard training, and small, inconsequential items such as patches that blow out half of the programming budget. I don’t know how true or valid these things are, but the fact that I’m hearing about them is troubling. These sorts of economic downturns are troubling in general, but a number of changes over the past couple years have been even more troubling, and it’s starting to drive away some of the more dedicated alumni that I know and talk to often, which is something that is not good.

Going back to camp, especially after not working there for a while, makes things painfully noticeable to me. I’m not one of the guys any more – I’m an alumni, and while people recognize my name and know who I am when I get to camp, I’m out of the loop with the goings on at camp – the funny stories, the inside jokes, even to my friends whom I’d worked with for years. I don’t feel excluded at all, but it does feel very odd. There’s a new measure to make the camp greener, and they’ve become more efficient with waste products and recycling. Other things have changed. Some of this is society, some of it not so much. There seems to be a huge emphasis on political correctness when it comes to interacting and dealing with campers and counselors, something I don’t take a whole lot of stock in. I can appreciate the need for camper safety, but when things such as simple competition are eliminated, and games that can really teach character building, there’s something wrong. It always seems like there is an agenda and purpose behind every activity and every game – they’re not just played for fun any more, which is a real crime. George Carlin has a great quote along this train of thought:

I think what every child needs and ought to have every day is two hours of daydreaming. Plain old daydreaming. Turn off the internet, the CD-ROMs, and the computer games and let them stare at a tree for a couple of hours. It’s good for them. And you know something? Every now and then they actually come up with one of their own ideas.

Electronics are pretty much banned from camp anyway, but it feels like there’s always a bit too much structure and purpose with everything.

Studying the history of camp, I can appreciate that change is to be expected. Looking over the time line, it’s interesting to see how the earlier directors spent far more time than any of the recent directors, and how much they built and changed things around during their tenure. But, there are elements of change that I don’t want to see – the camp that I remember isn’t around any more, but I don’t want to see something unrecognizable when I return next time. I seriously doubt that this will be the case, but there are things that have me worried.

Leaving camp, I stumbled upon the realization that it isn’t home any more. It’s an old home, one that I’ve since left for other pursuits, and it’s likely that it’ll be my home again, which has caught me with mixed emotions. I’m going to miss that feeling, even though it’s never going to completely vanish, but it’ll never be the same, but happy for the times that I’ve spent there.

Paper Update

I have Dad Clark’s journal! He’s the guy who I’m writing a historical paper on – I’ve been working on for the past couple of months. This is a huge, huge breakthrough, because the original copy is for all intents and purposes, in accessible to me. (It’s held by the camp, and the only time that I’d really be able to take a good look at it would be during regular office hours.) I’ve since been working with Jim Albright, one of the experts on camp history, and he had a copy of the journal, a collection of 659 pictures of each page in the journal. Now, I have a primary source, rather than a handful of secondary sources.
The big drawback to this is that I now have several hundred pages to go through, almost all in cursive – it’s going to take me a long time to go through it all, and it’s most likely going to add on a huge number of pages to a paper that I’m already trying to keep the page count down on – I’m at 25, and I don’t want to go over 30. Still, this is a huge wealth of information that will really put me into the early days of camp and right into Byron Clark’s head, something that I really haven’t been able to do that easily.

Current Writings – Byron Clark

In the time off from work, I’ve been working on a new paper that I’m hoping to get published sometime down the road. For the past eight or so years, I’ve worked or helped out at YMCA Camp Abnaki, and over that time, I’ve gotten really interested in the history surrounding camp. I was able to get some documents when I was up there last time to do some more research on various aspects of the camp’s history. I’ve been intending on working on a larger history of camp through a set of papers. There’s a lot of possibilities for work with this camp’s history.

While going through the documents, I started writing up a timeline of Byron Clark’s (the founder of camp) and found that he was not only involved in camp, but over twenty different organizations in the Burlington era, but also was involved with World War I, and might have been responsible for bringing the Boy Scouting movement to Vermont. When I consulted with one of the doctors here, he suggested to look at him as a progressive, which makes sense seeing that he was most active during the progressive era.

After another consult, I’ve gotten a bunch of sources and places to look, and I’ve since started an outline and have started working out the bits inbetween. He looks like a facinating person, and much much more interesting than I had previously known, which had been through the view of Abnaki. Now, with a larger view, it’s a much more complicated picture.

More as I write it up.

Weekend

Vermont experienced a couple of really strong storms last night. While driving to the bank to deposit my paycheck, NPR was interrupted by a weather warning saying that there was a tornado watch in pretty much all of Vermont. This is somewhat scary, because Vermont never gets tornadoes. I think that in the entire time that I’ve lived here, we’ve gotten one? Two at the most? They just don’t happen here.
This morning, I heard reports of inch and a half thick hail that fell in some places in North East New York, and worried about Camp Abnaki, because it’s right up there in the islands. I’ve put out a message earlier today seeing what was happening, because someone said that a tornado touched down in the islands. Apparently Camp experienced some damages, and I’ll most likely find out exactly what happened, as I’m headed up there tomorrow morning for something my dad’s company is doing, to visit a couple of people at camp and to see my friend Blackwell, who’s home for the week. Then off to see Grace Potter again in Burlington, which should be fun.

Weekend & Bitchy Authors

Eric came back from Pennsylvania on Thursday, and after a mishap on Friday, (when this happened), we got together on Saturday, at the Alchemist in Waterbury. Good pub, I’d love to hit that up again in the future, but there’s not a whole lot of people to go out drinking and eating with, now that I’ve graduated and everybody’s left Vermont.

This week, I’m working again, and will finally be able to start paying off bills. My hours are up, and my car now has new brakes, which were really needed. Tuesday, I’m headed up to Abnaki, where I’m going to present on the history (Which I’ve been researching all day) and will hopefully get finished in a bit. I’ve essentially got a timeline of events, and I’m going to compare it to various world events and events in the history of camping. I’d love to do some more work on this, and actually get a good comprehensive history on Camp written down – there’s a lot of information, and the last fairly comprehensive history only goes up to the 1930s or so. Maybe there’s some grants somewhere that I can apply to.

Work, work, work.

My hours at Walden Books have gone up because we lost one of our staff members. Not entirely sure of the reasons, but I have my own guesses. Effectively, there’s three of us to run the store, while we have a replacement manager until this weekend until our regular, Jess, comes back from maternity leave, and we’ve still down someone until another staffer comes back from Africa.
And, I got a call from Camp about an hour ago, asking if I can do the historical presentation for the staff training. While I’m a little annoyed at not being asked back, my rage has subsided to something more useful, and if I can, I will, because I’m still attached to the place. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince Jon to start a research project on the place and work on a history of the place like I’ve wanted for the past couple of years.

Alive! And Angry. And Busy

So, still very annoyed about Camp and everything – Furious really, but I have my Normandy Project to distract me for the time being. Couple of recent developments:

– One of the alumni on my list is still alive. And I have a phone number for him. Thus, I am all but bouncing around at this news.

– Finished getting pictures of everyone scanned, and once I isolate the pictures, I’ll include them in my presentation tomorrow.

– I’m presenting tomorrow and oh god, I’m not done with my presentation I’ve got people I still need to include in my paper and gaah.

– Just got the rest of my stuff for the Normandy trip. My flights from NH to London and back is now booked. My hostel in London is booked. Flights to and from London to Paris is now booked. Arrangements to meet people and staying with them have been made. And it’s less than a month before the trip.

– Raines, the TV show, is awesome. As is The Zimmers, a band of 90 + year old English people, singing the Who’s My Generation, seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqfFrCUrEbY

And the Light Shines on, While we all Ride On

The viewing/funeral was depressing. There was probably over a hundred people there, packed into the house. Sam looked different, like plastic, which was hard to see. Looked like Sam though, with snowboarding goggles, a Flogging Molly shirt, headphones and a couple cans of Red Bull. Good for him. I saw a couple of other guys from camp, and Sam’s brother Gabe, who’s been either in my cabin or village for the past four years. He looked good, as did his dad. They’re opening up a scholarship for kids to go to camp in his name.
I broke down in the car on the way back. This shouldn’t happen.

I’ve had a little to divert me though. I called Sarah, which always seems to help. Watched Daybreak and got pissed off at the recent Veronica Mars news*, ate dinner. It’s been a crappy day.

* Turns out that they’re going to be abandoning the Season-long mystery thing after the second arc this season, and going with standalone episodes. They’ll also be doing some overarcing romance things with the show, which is just plain annoying. Hopefully the show’ll still be good after that.

Departures

It’s the last week of camp this week. It’s been scary at how fast things are moving, and it’s saddening when people will be parting ways. There’s some people that I’ll never see again in my life, and people whom I won’t remember in a couple years, which scares me as well. When I was at Carbon Leaf, I ran into a guy who’d been at camp three or four years ago, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember him at all. Oh well.

We had to let another staff member go a couple days ago, after a couple of things that happened. Can’t and won’t talk about it, but it wasn’t a terrible surprise when it did happen. Probably booting a camper or two as well in the next week. We’ve got our second group here, Operation Purple Camp (More on that in a minute) and we’ve got some new staff to give us a hand. Chuck, a member of the Vermont National Guard, is in my village. Really cool guy, works well with the kids and really knows what he’s doing, as well as gave me some help with a class.

Operation Purple Camp is a specialty camp, along with Champ Camp, and are the only groups in which we have girls on camp. This one’s for children who’s parents have been deployed in the current war on terror. Regardless of political ideology, the needs for kids who have parents in the military are great and it’s a real challenge for them at times, with someone away from home for huge periods of time when they really need a parent. The camp’s got some goals to teach kids how to cope and deal with the stress. Hopefully it’ll work.