Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Lesson In Flexibility

Week one of camp down and it was gone in a BLUR! Blink and you miss it. The kids arrived in a whirl of bags, screams, tears and laughter. Cabin groups were photographed and then ran to snag the best bunks. Counselors stayed awake until the early hours of the morning trying to convince excited teens that sleep is valuable.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The first week of camp has been a roller coaster of excitement and energy. Constantly being busy and joining in all of the Blue and White Competitions, Evening Programs, activities and directing a full scale production of Annie in three weeks. The best part of all has been getting back into activities – which includes my camp favorite – riflery. It was a particular thrill to land a bulls eye on my first shot in 8 months.
But the real lesson that has been learned this week is one of flexibility. Camp is all about being flexible. To survive at camp you have to be ready to change plans at a minutes notice. You have to be ready to say yes, to lose sleep, to jump in, to dress up, to get turned into a human hot fudge sundae, to dance in front of 300 girls dressed in a table cloth and to just have plain old fun.
A prime example of this would be just the other day. I was happily helping my cabin during cabin clean up when I was called to the office. Little did I know that I was about to be given ten minutes to pack for a three day, two night camping and canoeing trip. But of course I said yes! Who would turn down that opportunity? It just meant being ready to reorganise my activities and being ready to change my schedule.
Again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is nothing better than a canoeing trip through the woods and lakes of Sylvania, Michigan with four girls who aren’t too afraid of bugs. Of course, I did manage to tip the canoe, two feet from shore and drench our trip leader and all the gear. There’s a first for everything, after all.
As we make our way towards week two and ever closer to the Fourth of July I know that the fun is just going to keep on getting bigger and better! I can’t wait for the parade and I can’t wait to see all of our girls dancing and singing in the streets of Minocqua.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Twas the Night Before Camp

Twas the Night Before Camp
Twas the night before camp and all through the grounds
The counsellors were the only ones making a sound
The cabins were set; the bags are all stacked
And we’re wondering what on Earth they all packed!

It is with bated breath that we all wait
We hope that the buses aren’t all running late
The welcome signs and job charts are ready to be hung
And the staff show songs are ready to be sung

As the breeze from Blue Lake blows peacefully by
It’s goodbye Pre-Camp we say with a sigh
And hello to the summer of fun
And days spent playing in the hot Minocqua sun

Monday, 18 June 2012

Cabins and Co's


And so the much anticipated day arrived. Cabins and Co-Counsellor’s!
Any returning staff member will know that this is a nerve wracking time. Will I get my old campers? What age group am I going to get? Who is my co going to be? What cabin are we getting? Does it have showers? Or a view of the lake? Can we hear the server’s bell from there? These are just some of the vitally important questions that we are asking ourselves.
In true Agawak style, we found out our co’s in a fun and puzzling way. The office girls made little cards with opposites on them. For example; I had Ketchup, my co had Mustard. There were Tom; Dick and Harry; Peanut Butter and Jelly; Chocolate, Graham cracker and marshmallow; and some that were specific just to camp.
Moving from pre-camp cabins to summer session cabins is both a fun and a daunting task. Most people try to keep as much as they can in their suitcase during pre-camp so the re-pack isn’t as big, but inevitably things spill out over the floor and room and shelves. All one can do is haphazardly shove it all back into bags, wrap your bedding and egg crate into a ball and lug the lot up the hill (yes the HILL!) to your cabin and remake the bed and unpack all over again. But it is a relief because you know that you are now in your summer home and can freely fill your shelves with the innumerable amount of things you will inevitably buy from Walmart.
But I am now happy to have a non-squeaky bed, a shelf with all of my clothes on it and a permanent cabin where I can go each night. It is also in prime position for pranking, which is a must for my summer enjoyment. And the pranking began this very night with the return of the Alligator of Blue Lake and one very unbelieving MP. I sure showed them!
I will now return to my cabin for a restful night’s sleep and be ready for another amazing fun filled day on the shores of Blue Lake.

Colour Wars


It’s that time of year again. The time when the women are separated from the girls. That’s right. Blue and White. Only the most important and exciting thing at camp!
Colour wars are held in very high esteem and are taken deadly seriously by campers and counsellors alike. Once you are placed on a team you are there for life. You uphold your colour and strive to bring your team to victory. That is how it rolls at Camp Agawak.
So, naturally, pre camp is the perfect time to initiate the new staff into this age old tradition. And what would an initiation be without whipped cream? Certainly not an Agawak initiation that’s for sure! So our newbies found themselves face first in a plate of whipped cream, trying to lick their way to a B or a W.
Then we went straight into our first Blue and White games – Spelling Bee. And it is exactly what  sounds like. A giant spelling bee. And what a fantastic way to start off the season with a highly competitive, intensely fierce and sometimes embarrassing game. And let’s not forget an amazing win by the white team!
A couple of days later we got to strut our stuff in the kitchen in another Blue and White clash of the titans. Welcome to Agawak Iron Chef! Each team was paired up with one of our two chefs – Ducky and Tim. The aim was for each team to create a three course meal. And those meals were amazing! Fruit platters, pasta salads, salsa, beans, roasted beef, and BBQ’d beef. Forget about chicken all summer! I want this!
Each dish was judged by several senior staff, including our very own Camp Director; Mary. Whilst both teams put in a good effort and scored points for dishes, but the overall win went to White. But the food was delicious on both parts and there were a LOT of people returning for seconds, thirds, and fourths.
So far a great start to the summer for Blue and White and many more great games to look forward to. With the campers arriving in just a few short days we are all eagerly awaiting the fun, noise and mischief that accompanies them!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pre-Camp Part 1

Pre-Camp Part 1

I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan…
Wait. That’s not right. Considering I flew into San Francisco, for one. For another, my life is not a Miley Cyrus song.
I’m not one to do things the easy way. Not by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making everything insanely crazy but I have to admit that just once I wouldn’t mind getting onto a plane without a broken bone, torn muscles or having just finished some ridiculously dangerous expedition. And four days hiking the Great Dividing Range with a group of 15 year olds is definitely dangerous.
So I found myself getting back from school camp late Thursday night, washing everything I owned on Friday and hopping on a plane early Saturday morning. Fun, fun, fun! Who doesn’t love to pack in a rush?
It’s my second year at Camp Agawak, so I had some idea of what I was going to need. And this year I planned on bringing some clothes. After last year’s fiasco of leaving everything I owned in China and having nothing but a pair of shorts and a t shirt when I arrived at camp – I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. I also knew that it was MEGA important to bring an entire carry-on bag FULL of Caramello Koalas, Freddo Frogs, Wagon Wheels, Allen’s Lollies and DO NOT FORGET the Tim Tams. Believe me. Any camper who has ever had an Australian counsellor with NOT forgive you if you forget the Tim Tams!
On the plane I got and 14 hours later I found myself in sunny San Francisco. DS2019 in hand I all but skipped through immigration and into my favourite place on Earth. Or, I should say, my second favourite. Because my favourite place on Earth was 8 days, extreme Californian sunburn, a road trip through Amish country, dodging Chicago gangsters and several major league baseball games away.
Welcome to Camp Agawak for Girls!
Because it is tradition, several returning international staff met in Milwaukee to catch a Brewers game before we headed to Milwaukee International Airport to play our favourite game – spot the Agawak Staff Member. And trust me, we take it seriously. Basically we split up and wander around the airport to find any young women who seem a bit lost and ask them if they are going to Agawak. The rule is that you cannot return empty handed!
Once we had everyone it was on to the bus for a FOUR HOUR drive to Minocqua, Wisconsin – the most beautiful place in the world!
As we turned on to Blue Lake road the excitement became too much. The returnees started singing and cheering and screaming, while the poor first year internationals watched on in fear. What had they gotten themselves in for? Here we were driving down a deserted road in the middle of the woods with a busload of lunatics!
And then we were there! The doors couldn’t open fast enough as we threw ourselves into the arms of the nearest person and hugged them! We were home! Amidst the cheers and tears the newbies made their way into open arms and into the Agawak family. Their lives would be forever changed. They were now a part of a sisterhood that would last for life.
As is tradition, there was pizza and introductions. We were split into six pre-camp cabins, with a returning staff member taking several newbies under their wings. There were late night tours of camp, the first trip to the shower house (it’s the hardest one!), and then all kinds of late night hijinks as we settled in to our home for the next two months.
Today we had a nice lazy morning, with a very late sleep in – 8am, thanks Kobe (a very mischievous staff member!) and then settled into a day of getting to know Agawak. Returnees gave tours of the camp so the newbies could see it in the beautiful Wisconsin sun. Then there was a pontoon boat tour of Blue Lake, narrated by MP, who knows every inch of this camp. To end it off we enjoyed some tubing fun – with a lot of air born displays.
Tonight we are looking forward to the annual trip to Walmart and ice cream run. And believe me, a bunch of Aussies let loose in Walmart? Very few survive that!
Looking forward to the kids arriving but still a whole week of pre-camp fun to be had yet!