Ever since I was eight years old, I've wanted to live at summer camp. Camp has all the fun of teaching preschool with the added advantage of taking place outdoors a majority of the time. I'm almost always happier when I'm outdoors.
I'm not sure exactly why or how I always find myself at home afterwards. I probably get tricked into leaving by the promise of a bunch of over-tired, hyperactive children trapped on a 3 1/2 hour bus ride home.
The best thing about camp might be that the level of chaos, while still somewhat controlled, is much higher than anything one could allow in a classroom. The kids are older at camp too, so instead of saying things like, "We don't spit on our friends!" I get to say things like, "I don't know. I'm not in charge of snack. I'm only in charge of bossing you around." and "Screaming about peace and quiet is not going to get us any peace and quiet." Followed closely by, "You're on a bus with 80 kids. You're not going to get much peace and quiet."
That last one is key, I suppose, since I found out only later that our bus was considered the worst behaved of any of the buses. It would have helped if someone had informed me I was supposed to be keeping them quiet. I know HOW to chew kids out. I just had no idea it was required. In fact, I was probably at least as noisy as they were.
One of the councilors asked me why I keep the wrench/all purpose tool pictured above in my purse. Let me just tell you that he asked this question WHILE using said wrench to help a girl escape from the bus bathroom where she had been trapped for at least 20 minutes. Aside from the occasional accidental crime and a bathroom rescue, it was also useful on the way home for cutting a giant cookie cake.
I was with a third grade bunk last year, and let me tell you: fourth grade girls are an entirely different animal. I'm pretty sure they have all the interpersonal problems of adults, but lack the experience and tact to steer through them. I tried my best each time they asked, doling out sage advice about how to cope with a friend who threatens to start and spread rumors, is bossy, or "steals" friends.
They didn't want to hear it though. I finally threw in the towel stating, "I really don't know. I didn't have any friends in fourth grade." It's not true, of course. I had a couple of close friends. I just didn't have large groups of friends that I had known for years. Considering the types of problems these girls are having, I might actually have been better off.
Here's another problem I didn't have in the fourth grade: these girls have boyfriends. I was even an eyewitness to a breakup: "I'm dating someone who's older than you, taller than you, and cuter than you!" At dinner that night I had to ask who was older, taller, and cuter than the boy she broke up with. "No one," she told me, "I just made that up."