Thursday, February 2, 2012

Camp, Luck, and Lecture-Halls

"I won't grow up, I don't wanna wear a tie, or a serious expression, in the middle of July!  'Cause growing up means it would  be, beneath my dignity to climb a tree!  I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up... not me!"
Home Sweet Happy Place
For many years, I have spent my summers living in a tent for three months at the over-night Girl Scout summer camp: Camp Redwing.  Sitting in a darkened lecture-hall, watching the snow whip through the bare trees that line campus, a monotone lecturing professor drones on and on, and I find myself daydreaming of Redwing.  When you work as a camp counselor, you essentially sign up to be a kid for three months.  Granted, you have to be responsible for 30+ five year old girls 24 hours a day for weeks at a time, but working at camp requires much more than than responsibility.  To work at a summer camp, you must be willing to be the example.  You have to sing songs louder than the campers, hop happily out of bed when the bell rings at seven am, volunteer to jump in the river, and smile at all times.  "Camp," as they tell you in training, "is a happy place."  Camp is like Disney World.  It's an escape; it's a cliche.  Although camp always has been and always will be educational, camp is made into a "happy place" by those "examples" who work and live there.  It is this kind of passion and "happy place" mantra that is missing from education.  The classes you've really enjoyed, think back... they were most likely taught by the teachers who sang the songs louder and hopped happily out of bed to rescue campers from spiders, metaphorically speaking.  All teachers should be like this.  If you think about it, as teachers, we never have to grow up.  I won't be wearing a tie in the middle of July... I'll be on summer vacation, just like my students.  Most likely, I'll be working at a summer camp.  That's why this job is the best.  Not because we get summers off, but because we don't have to grow up.  The whole point of our job is to change lives, to educate, to mentor, and to make our classrooms a "happy place," just like camp, for each and every one of our students.  As I sat in my 75 minute long darkened lecture-hall class this morning, all I could think of were ways to improve my professor's class.  "How does he think this is engaging?  Doesn't he see people sleeping?  Does he not notice the little glow of cellphones cleverly hidden behind notebooks and under desks?"  Maybe my professor doesn't care...maybe he forgot how lucky he is to have the job he has... or maybe he just needs to go back to summer camp and see how its done.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love this! One very important trait teachers need- ENTHUSIASM. Who wants to be in a class led by a monotone drone?

    I am currently looking into what kind of summer work I can get myself into this year with hopes of doing something worthwhile. In previous summers I have worked in an office or retail, BORING. Once I worked at a summer day camp- it was the best summer yet.

    Your post has pushed me to look into going to camp this summer...thanks for the post!