It’s hard to believe that at 65 years of age I was so excited for the first day of camp that I woke up at 2:40 am. I kept thinking about all the children coming to the Alliance, all the parents, all the cars, all the questions. Would the 35+ counselors be on time? Would the parents understand that it was the first day and there would be separation issues and a slow drop off? There was no way I could go back to sleep.
I read the papers, watched Sports Center, wrote and responded to emails and finally it was 6am: time to shower and get ready to go the JEA. I had a cup of coffee, showered, got on my shorts and T-Shirt, in classic camp style and soon thereafter, I was on the way to the J.
I arrived at 7:10am and there were already children in the lobby getting ready to go to Early Morning Care. I couldn’t have been happier; the counselors were there and greeting the children. (We have early morning drop off (7am-8am) for those parents that need to be at work).
I sat at my desk doing some administrative work waiting for the hour to pass eagerly waiting for Camp Drop Off. The minutes seemed to drag. As the clock finally got to 7:50 I walked down to the drop off/pick up door to get ready for Day #1---alas, there was no one else there. It was like all my worries were going to come to fruition, but at 7:55, camp leadership came walking down the stairs with their clipboards ready to go and a 7:59, we opened the door to start the process.
Cars were backed up through the entire parking lot, out the driveway, and past 67th Street. With over 300 cars attempting to enter the JEA at virtually the same time, and the newness of camp for many, it was a slow process….very slow. It wasn’t because we didn’t have enough staff or a system, it was just an overload….kind of what happens when you pour a gallon of water in to a funnel.
There’s nothing like the experience of opening up car door after car door to children who are so happy and excited to be going to camp (with the exception of a few who were hanging on to Mom’s neck for dear life). You could tell that they, like I, were up too early with excitement.
The afternoon was an equal challenge as name after name was called for children to come down for pickup. Inevitably, a bathroom trip comes at exactly the same time as their name is called.
I was constantly cajoling the counselors to go faster, to focus, to be as efficient as possible. One of them said to me, “There’s only so fast you can move with a tired 5-year-old.” She was and is right.
As I was standing there, DJ said to me, “Will you take her to the car?”, pointing to one of the children. A cherubic blond girl (5 or 6 years old) walked up to me, put her hand out and asked, “Do you want to hold my hand?”
I took her hand surveying the long line of cars and we walked. We made quite the couple. As it turned out, her mother’s car was almost at the very end of the line. As we walked down, I said to her, “It’s a long walk. My wife thinks that I should walk more.”
She didn’t hesitate for a second and responded, “You should listen to your wife.” From the mouth of babes, no filters, “You should listen to your wife.”
I opened the door and she bounded up to her car seat.
“Did you have a good day?” asked her mother.
“It was the best,” she responded.
What a wonderful end of the day.
Camp is the best!