Poland, Kazakhstan, and Great Britain
It's late July, I'm turning ten, and I'm in the middle of my first two-month sojourn at summer camp. I'm -- finally! -- learning to swim and to ride. The Wicked Stepmother is 500 miles away and I'm reveling in freedom and independence as I act in plays, scramble around waterfalls, and soak up the beauty of the hemlocks and mountain laurel of the Blue Ridge.
When my own kids go to camp and, eventually, become counselors, I am reminded of how gently I was introduced to the wideness of the world in the context of a North Carolina Valley. Their counselors were from Poland, New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa, and Ireland. My son loved the Russian kitchen crew with whom he worked and camped out; my daughter and her co-counselor are sharing their cabin with two young women from Uzbekistan. My own memories include Shane and Sami, two young men from Ireland and Lebanon who were counselors for a cabin of boys way at the top of the hill, and who were full of laughter and fun. I have always remembered them because it was not until several years later that I grasped just how difficult some parts of the world are and, having known Shane and Sami, I have never really been able to undertand why. If only every 10-year-old spent a month or two in the mountains playing soccer and going swimming with counselors from all over the world, perhaps this wordd would be a different place.
The Lovely Camp Counselor is having a wonderful session with a great group of girls after that first difficult week with young ladies who were inconstant terror of being consumed by spiders. Her words of wisdom, after a camp-out in which the campers showed far more stamina than their counselors:
"Mom, it's SO much easier to be up all night because the girls are laughing and telling stories than because they are upset and want to go home!"