Open Minds And Perspectives

When the camp-office phone rings, the administrative assistant hears from an upset parent complaining about the tardiness of the bus this morning.

Get our and mingle with your campers, staff.

The assistant relays a rather familiar message to me, stating, “The bus was late again at stop C.” In despair, I reply, “Not again!” Then I declare, “That’s it, today’s the day I’ll ‘fix’ this transportation issue.”

In the next few minutes, I clear a 6-foot banquet table (a big problem), and brew a fresh pot of extra-strength coffee. Armed with a town map, a list of campers’ addresses, the bus route and an extra-large cup of coffee, I’m ready to tackle the problem.

I lay the map on the table and begin matching campers’ addresses with the bus stops on the route. Halfway through this tedious exercise, my head is pounding.

After a large gulp of coffee, I exclaim, “Is it possible that the last 12 campers on the route could live so far away from one another?”

Perhaps I should have paid more attention in statistics when the topic of controlling variables was covered. The issue actually becomes one of those dreadful statistical word problems: “Twelve campers live approximately 13 miles away from one another, and six bus stops exist; there is one bus and one driver who arrives at the last of the two stops at 9:10 a.m., even though camp starts at 9:00 a.m.”

Should the bus leave earlier, or should there be another bus stop (of course, this will cost more money), or should parent(s)/guardian(s) drive campers to camp? Or do I delegate this task to the program director, thinking a second functioning brain can only help to arrive at a solution.

Venturing Out Of The Camp Office

On my quest, I discover the youngest group of campers on a journey of their own. From a distance, I notice 4-year-old children mesmerized by their counselor. I move closer to listen without disturbing the group.

The counselor, Paul, is explaining how “Ted the Bear” doesn’t come out during the day because he is afraid of children. The campers begin describing Ted. One says, “He’s over 6 feet tall.” Another adds, “Ted wears an orange hat. Right, Paul?” Rather intrigued by Ted, I forget my search for the program director.

Reluctantly, I leave the group, wishing I could hear more about Ted the Bear. Further on, I notice Group 2 sitting with another counselor, Chris. I assume he’s discussing “sharing” with the 6-year-olds, but as I approach to add my camp-director words of wisdom, I see that he’s actually explaining that he and Paul know Ted the Bear very well because they live at camp (even though this is a day camp).

At night they toast marshmallows together and tell stories. The campers are curious, wondering, “Is it dark at camp at night, Chris?” Another camper asks, “What does Ted eat at night?” Chris replies, “Ted is a vegetarian.” I am beginning to wonder about this infusion of Ted into the camp.

At lunch, I approach the program director and inquire about Ted; she, of course, is very knowledgeable about the camp’s newfound friend. As with most days at camp, I have become distracted from my “to-do list.” Today, however, I learned a great deal about the culture of the camp, the creativity of the staff and the endless imaginations of the campers.

Two Weeks Later

As the days and weeks pass, sightings of Ted escalate: his footprints and hat appear on the back path. The campers write letters to Ted, inviting him to some of the upcoming special events. Parent(s)/guardian(s) send extra carrots in their campers’ lunch bags with notes attached, “For Ted the Bear.”

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