Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We Love you Campers Oh Yes We Do!

“Beep, beep, beep, beep”, “smack” goes my hand on the snooze button. I shoot out of bed and shout, “Hillary, time to wake up it’s the last day!” Today was the last day of camp for the summer. “Can you believe we have been here for three months?” Hilary commented. “Well , working 40 hours a week as well as volunteering 35 hours a week makes time go by real fast” I replied.

The last day of camp was always hectic. The day before the campers leave, counsellors are required to pack between two and three camper’s bags. Before coming to camp, I viewed packing and unpacking in a completely different way . “Camp: MDYA (mentally disabled young adults) Name: Mark Cabin: 4” I read as I began packing one of my campers.

It was my job to make sure that everything that was sent to camp, left camp. Packing campers was fairly easy as long as when you unpacked them you took your time to write a solid description of every article and label each item with a permanent marker. “Red, American eagle T-shirt. Ugggh, where are you?” I mumbled as I crawled on my hands and knees looking under the surrounding beds.

“How many items can’t you find” Luc cattily asked. “One! how about you?” I asked hoping that he couldn’t find more than me. It was always a good week when you could send your camper home with every item they came with. This sounds easy enough but some how in the middle of the night the clothes monster comes around to every cabin and removes items.

The last morning we finished our packing, adding in last minute items. “Mark where is your towel?” I yell to him across the cabin; “you lost my towel” he responds, extremely distraught. “No Mark, we just need to find where you last had it, I had it lying out on your dresser last night. You showered this morning so go check the shower room.” I explained as I tried to calm Mark down. “Found it!” Mark brags as he trots over to me with his bright yellow towel in hand.

“BUSES ARE HERE!” yells Emily, one of the other counsellors in cabin four. The noise in the cabin doubles in volume. “Alright, Mark, Nick, Bradley, Jason, Troy, Cole, you guys all need to come line up at the door, leave your luggage where it is and we will make sure it gets on the bus”. “No! I want to carry my own bag to the bus” argues Jason. “Fine, quickly grab your bag” I give in; it’s the last day.
Emily and I bring our six campers to meet the bus, while the four other counsellors stay with the campers who aren’t taking the bus, as well as help bring the bags to the bus for the campers who are on the bus.

“Cabin four, you are on bus one!” yells Matt, the assistant camp coordinator. It’s time to say our final goodbyes. I go to give Mark a hug and say goodbye, his eyes begin filling with tears. I look around, almost everyone is crying. Counsellors can’t hold it together. “Smack”. “Ouch Emily! What was that for”, I snap. “Why are you so cold hearted, you’re not even crying” she teases, her eyes puffy and glossed with tear remnants. “I’m not a crier!” I respond. The other counsellors join us to say good bye.

“Why am I not crying?” I ponder. There are only a handful of us that aren’t shedding tears, and I’m the only girl. Clearly something is wrong with me, I jokingly think to myself. Our campers loaded the bus and I begin tapping on the bus window where Mark is sitting; he can’t stop crying and it breaks my heart. He looks over to where I place my hand on the window. He holds his hand up to match my hand. A tear almost forms but banishes as I hear the other counsellors begin to sing our goodbye song.
“We love you campers, oh yes we do, we love you campers, our love is true, when you’re not with us, we’re blue, SO BLUE! Oh campers we love you!” the entire staff joins in song. Everyone is clapping along to the song, making a final attempt to let our campers know how much they mean to us. As we finish our song the buses pull away. This is our cue. All thirty-five staff members begin running to the exit. The buses must drive the loop around the camp so we have time to beat the buses to the exit.

Waiting for the buses to finish the loop we come together and form a wall. "The buses will stop", I keep reassuring myself as the large yellow school bus emerges from around the corner. The buses come to a halt just meters in front of us. “Phew” I exhale in relief. “Beep, beep” the driver honks, signaling to us that its time to go. We move out of the way. The bus drives on.

We begin to run after the bus waving and yelling goodbye. I don’t make it far. I’m exhausted. I have no energy left. 60 days, 640 work hours and 598 volunteer hours, was finished. It was over, it really was over.


  1. Cassie, this was nice to read. I felt like there was a lot of story crammed into a small space, so a lot of the time, there was telling through summary instead of showing. My favourite scene was at the bus, when Mark put his hand up to yours. It was really touching. I think more description could have been useful, because these aren't just any campers, they're disabled and I suspect that would create a whole new set of challenges. However, it is clear that they meant a lot to everyone, and that was really touching. It's interesting that you volunteered for nearly as many hours as you actually worked! No wonder you were so tired. I liked the fact that even though you wanted to get the job done and get everyone on their way, everyone was still sad to see the campers go. I also liked the beginning, with the alarm clock beeping. It's a sound I've come to hate too.

  2. Hello Cassie!

    This is a good story and I think you tell it well. You have improved your structure greatly, you start off the piece in the moment, with the alarm clock beeping, and end off at a great scene, when you are running out of breath chasing the exiting buses. There are some other really strong moments, such as when you are packing up the campers and when the counselors break out crying.

    There are some minor issues, such as lots of telling instead of showing. I would have liked to hear more “inner voice” or your emotional state of mind during this very poignant memory. You should have explored more of why you had such a hard time crying. Also, I believe getting someone else to read over your final draft would be very beneficial for you, because I notice quite a few minor mistakes and awkward sentences, like “The last morning we finished our packing, adding in last minute items". However, looking back I do see much improvement in your writing. You have some meaningful stories to tell, so it is great to see your writing beginning to express them more powerfully. Good work!

    - Jeremy

  3. Hey Cassie,

    I think it's fitting that your last post in this class is the last day at camp. It really wraps up what you've been doing with your blog, which kind of made me a bit sad.

    I disagree with Jeremy. I think you take a risk using a writing style that relies mostly on quotes. I think this works because it captures the noise and chaos of change. I specifically like the paragraph that started "BUSES ARE HERE" because I really felt caught up in the craziness, even though I've never been to camp.

    I really enjoyed this post. Good luck with all of your future writing