Sunday, 12 August 2012

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest times in the summer is when it is time to start packing bags and get ready to go home. We all know it is coming, but we dread it just the same. The duffels arrive in the cabins and the kids start putting away everything that has filled the cabin for the last two months.
The staff prepares a closing show for the kids and we sing two songs. One is happier, and about all the fun we had at camp. Then awards are presented, including camper and counsellor of the year. After this the staff get together to perform their final song for the summer. We create a horseshoe around all of the campers and perform the candle lighting ceremony. All staff members, including the assistant director and the director participate and there is hardly ever a dry eye in the building by the end of it.
On the last night we have a final campfire where we sing our songs one last time, we have our last campfire girl speeches and Mary says her farewell speech. It is a sad night sitting on the shore of Blue Lake for the last time, sharing those last few hours together. Once campfire is over we all move to the waterfront to send our wish boats out into the lake with our wishes for the year. The water glows with hundreds of candles as they float on the ripples, taking our dreams out into Blue Lake to hold until we come back to Agawak.
With the kids all packed, the cabin feels empty and our final cabin party has a sense of farewell. We know we will all see each other again soon enough but we aren’t quite ready to leave camp. It is definitely a late night, with everyone desperate to hold on to the last day of summer.
The next morning is one of tears, farewells and rushing. The buses are ready to leave, the bags are packed and loaded and the kids have their lunches. Final hugs, an abundance of tears and then it is just the few counsellors staying for post camp left behind, waving.
This summer has been an amazing one. There have been challenges, most definitely, and I have learned so many new things. I have made amazing friends and I have cherished every moment I have spent at Agawak, knowing that they may be my last ones. I have been honoured many times over with every amazing thing that happens and have been grateful to share them with the people here.
Agawak is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has changed my life, helped me grow and has made me a better person. I don’t know what my life would be if I hadn’t come here, and I’m glad I never have to know. I would happily spend every day of the year in this beautiful place if I could.
Summer camp is an opportunity, and it is the greatest fun in the world. But it is definitely one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. I have watched some amazing counsellors this year and have been privileged to watch them grow. But I have also seen the ones who came here not really knowing what was going to be involved. They have left camp much stronger people and I know that they cherish the memories they have made, but I also know that they struggled. Knowing that you are coming to a 24/7 job, working with kids, in an amazing place with amazing people is the best thing anyone can do when signing up for camp.
I highly recommend the program to anyone who has a passion for working with kids, wants to share their skills and who isn’t afraid of hard work. Get ready for the most amazing summer of your life!!!

Treasure Hunt

Without a single doubt, this is my absolute favourite activity at camp. You’re probably thinking, “Treasure hunt? What’s so good about that?” But believe me – this is no ordinary treasure hunt!
The Blue and White Commissioners spend ALL YEAR planning Treasure Hunt and coming up with the trickiest clues they can think of. This is THE BIGGEST Blue and White event of the year and is not to be missed! If you have a day off – you come back for it!
Once Treasure Hunt has been announced the campers are given time to go back to their cabins to prepare. They get seats, blankets, food, string, notebooks etc. and move to their team meeting spots (White team in Happy Camper Hall, Blue Team in Alumni Hall). Once there they will stay there, in silence, until one team wins. And this can be a LONG time!
The teams are broken into smaller groups who will go out on clues. Every group will go on at least one clue. The clues can be anything, and can be ANYWHERE, including out of camp. There are also staff clues, which usually involve us eating disgusting amounts of food! Once a clue has been solved the next clue is given. Both teams are competing against one another and it is a giant race to be the first to find the treasure. Because there is no communication between the two teams no one ever knows who is in front and that adds to the excitement of the game.
There are two chiefs chosen to oversee the teams. They are both members of the staff. One from Blue Team oversees White Team and vice versa. It is the chief’s job to make sure no one talks, no one cheats and that the clues are properly solved. They are dressed in all blue or white and wear a Native American headdress.
This year Blue Team won Treasure Hunt after 10 long hours of playing. It was very late by the time we all got to bed but the excitement levels didn’t dim until the very wee hours of the morning. The great thing about Treasure Hunt is that you can write down the clues and where your team went to see if they could solve it, meaning that for the next few days it is all anyone talks about. White and Blue compare notes to see where their team went for each clue and how quickly they solved it.
As I said, this is the most exciting activity at camp and is one that everyone looks forward to all year!

Final Four

One of the many Agawak traditions is Final Four. It is a series of games played over three days. The entire camp, including counsellors, is split up into four teams based on colleges. This year’s teams were Villanova, MIT, Auburn and Xavier. They each compete to be the winning team.
The three days are broken up into events such as opening ceremonies, capture the flag, series games, closing ceremonies and the biggest  competition of them all – GONZO. Gonzo is a giant relay race around camp where all of the campers are assigned a certain job/task. These can include shoot a bullseye, swim to the dock and back, find the skittles in a plate of whipped cream, kiss the moose, run up the back path with a cup full of water, complete a puzzle and so on. It is a high intensity game and each team play to WIN!
Final four is started off with opening ceremonies. Each team creates two cheers, a skit and a song to perform for openings. The place they come in for openings affects the score so we put in A LOT of effort to make these amazing! The songs are usually modern, well known songs with the words re-written to reflect the team. For example – Villanova’s mascot was the Wildcat so all of our songs were taken from High School Musical.
Closings are just as important, and again each team comes up with a skit, song and cheers. They are performed on the upper athletic field and are judged by the commissioners and our camp director.
Final Four is one of the most anticipated and enjoyed activities at camp. This year was just as intense as last year and it is great fun getting to help the kids support their teams.