Tuesday 31 July 2012

Campfire Girl

One of the biggest honours at Camp Agawak is to receive the award of campfire girl.
Every Monday night we gather as a camp to sing songs, show off our talents and enjoy each other’s company around a campfire. It is one of the most special nights of the week and everyone looks forward to it.
As a first year counsellor it can be a little overwhelming to hear all of the songs and realise that EVERYONE knows the words. But not to worry – we sing the songs so often that you soon learn the words.
My personal favourites are One Dark Night, Lollipop, Coconut, Three Jolly Fisherman and Tongo. All of the songs are so catchy and great fun to sing and campfire is by far my favourite evening program.
The funniest part is that even when camp is over and you are home you will find yourself singing these songs. You will be in the middle of the shopping centre and will find yourself humming a tune and smile at the memory of camp.
But the most important part of campfire is the campfire girl speeches. Every Monday there are three lucky campers (a junior, an intermediate and a senior) and two counsellors (a junior and a senior) chosen to be campfire girls. They are given a wood carving of the Agawak campfire to keep forever. They then write a speech about their time at Agawak and things they are grateful for. It is a really important speech and campers often start writing their campfire girl speeches in their first year in the hopes that they will receive the award.
Last year a counsellor received the award of campfire girl. She had been at camp for 12 years and had never before gotten campfire girl. Her speech had parts that she had written in her first year at camp and she had been adding to it since then. It was something that she had dreamed about earning! The fact that she made the speech wearing a ball gown only added to the special occasion.
I was lucky enough this year to earn campfire girl for my second time. Last year, I was granted the honour at the second campfire of the summer and I had no idea what it was. I had missed first campfire because I was on a camping trip and so I did not fully understand the importance of the award.
When I was given campfire girl this year I was honoured. To receive it for a second time was more than a surprise and because I now fully understood the award I was even more honoured. Finally I was able to write a proper campfire girl speech, knowing what it was all about.
Although it may seem silly, and might be a bit boring – I have put my speech in here so that you can get an idea for what a campfire girl speech is all about.

I throw this key log into the fire for my 2 AMAZING summers at Agawak.
When Mary asked me last year if I thought I would like to come back my immediate response was YES! It wasn’t until later that I realised that I had to work out the logistics of being a teacher back home and having to leave mid-year. But I knew that I had to come back to Agawak.
From the minute I drove out of Agawak for the last time and watched that sign fade into the distance I was counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until I came back. The bus ride from Milwaukee this year seemed longer than the 14 hours it took for my plane to get to San Francisco from Melbourne because I knew what was waiting for me in Minocqua.
As an outsider it is easy for me to see the wonder that is Agawak. We don’t have ANYTHING like this back home and I can’t believe that I have the honour of coming her for a “job”. This is not a job. It is a gift and I am grateful to share this experience with everyone here.
Agawak wouldn’t be what it is without the people and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am. To my beautiful girls in cabin D and J last year – you are now CITs. You made it and you are doing an amazing job! Love every minute of these days and love each other. I couldn’t be prouder.
To my crazy, wonderful, fantastic and amazing cabin 11 girls; Caroline, Katie, Ashley, Molly, Sam, Sophie, Nat, Hanna, Abby and Sarah – you have come so far in these few short weeks and I am so proud of you. I couldn’t love you more if I tried. I have so much fun with you guys and you are bringing camp to life for me. You may sometimes keep me up until 3:30 in the morning but I cherish all of the moments we are building together. I am so proud to see you growing into young women.
To my co – Samara – it should be you standing here, not me. You are the backbone in our relationship. You make me laugh, you listen to me whine, we talk about boys, you give me full support and you are amazing. I couldn’t have been luckier with a co and I’m so happy its Ketchup and Mustard all the way! Sometimes I forget that this is your first year as a counsellor. You are so level headed and handle everything so well. Thank you so much for everything.
To the JCs – you are all amazing and doing such a great job as counsellors. I have never met such strong young women in my life. I love it when you guys drop into our counsellor room and I get to stuff you with Australian candy.
To the SCs – I love your passion and dedication to camp. You guys bring so much spirit and you help us clueless Australians understand the ins and outs of camp.
To the international staff – including the New Americans – you are the greatest people ever! To take a chance and travel from all over the world to this tiny little place in Wisconsin – it takes courage and you are some of the bravest people I have ever met. You are there for each other and you always look out for each other.
Lori +Nat – you are like sisters from across the pond to me. I love it when we bump into each other in the lodge and our accents collide.
Liane – thank you for always making me smile and having a hug ready.
Genna with a G – mate you rock my socks! I always have a blast with you and I am so glad to have met you. I can’t wait to go have dinner with your mum!
Lauren – the counsellor room isn’t the same without you. Thank you for those few short weeks that you were in our cabin.
To Mama Suzi – you know I don’t cry, but… I’m glad you always have a hug and a shoulder for me. You are more than a mum away from home to me and if there is one thing on earth that I am grateful for – it is you. You’ve gotten me through some tough times, you always give me an ace schedule and you are there with advice for me (even when I don’t take it).
To Mary and the office staff – what you guys do is totally underrated. I swear you guys are what keep camp running. Mary, I don’t know when you ever find the time to sleep. Thank you so much for building this wonderful place and giving me the chance to come back here for the second time. You have changed my life and the life of so many others in thousands of ways. I don’t think you know how much it means to me that I can call Agawak home. It truly has changed my life.
I came here last year a little bit crazy and felt overwhelmed. Agawak accepted me and gave me the chance to be myself, to be crazy and to have fun endlessly. Agawak taught me to truly trust and rely on others and it taught me how to cry. I made some of the most AMAZING friends that I still keep in touch with. I was able to prank freely – Karissa you better go find your bed! Kobe and Karissa – you guys have unleashed something that will continue forever and I love it!
For Karhlia, who isn’t here to tease me for crying – you are one of the best friends I ever had and I love you like a twin. From those midnight showers in pre-camp 2011 where I lost my pants in the woods to those 20 crazy hours in LA. You got me through so much and I can’t wait to get together back in OZ. This year has been a whirlwind and I wish you were still here. You got me through being camp sick, San Francisco sick and being Karhlia sick. I miss and love you mate!
To finish off, I just want to say that Agawak is a gift. Every day here is precious and should be lived to the full. There are so many people who don’t know about this wonderful place so make the most of being one of those few. Take every day and make it your own. Don’t let anything – bugs, chicken on chicken on chicken or cabin clean up – stop you! Take chances, be daring and brave and make yourself a story worth telling!

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