Camp Ecetera: Revisited

This summer I worked for a month at the Black Sea at a youth camp. It was a hellacious experience. One I will never repeat again. But one moment still causes me to literally laugh out loud.

First—The players.

For the first two weeks, there were a total of approximately 12 youngsters from ages 10 to 16. If they were too young (say under 12) they were supposed to have an adult family member with them. Most of the adult family members took the opportunity to stay in a neighboring hotel and use the time as a vacation.

One family decided to house the family member in the same hotel as us. This family unit was a son of 15, Ian, his little sister, Deana, who was 12. And the adult family member was the grandmother.

Our director at the camp brought her 4 year old daughter, too.

Two—The set up.

We scheduled time to go to the Sea twice a day. But unfortunately most of the first two weeks were rainy. Which made the water turbulent during the times we did go. But although the waves were seemingly rough, the water remained shallow for some 30 to 40 yards past them. Shallow being that it only came up to my chest.

We were still diligent counselors. One of us was in the water when any kid was in the water. And if the counselor in the water and those kids went far out to swim, the other counselor kept watch on the kids playing in the surf.

There is a deep fear of the Sea amongst Georgians. I’ve heard more than once that there are huge sinkholes that swallow up people and take them to a watery death.  ..okay. Our director emphatically refused to go into the water further than her knees. What that essentially did was to transmit that fear of the Sea into her daughter.

Three—The scene.

This one particular day, it was beautiful out. the skies were finally clear and we could play all day in the Sea. Ian, who was kind of stand-offish, finally decided to go play with the rest of the kids in the water. Ian was a good swimmer but didn’t really like swimming in the Sea. So it was a big deal for him to finally be playing with the other kids.

I was sitting on the beach relaxing, when the Grandmother became concerned about Ian. He was out much further than she was comfortable with (but mind you even THAT far out, he was still chest deep standing flat footed). I tried to calm her down and explain this to her, but she wasn’t hearing it. She decided to take matters into her own hands as much as she could, but still be sensible. She started to yell for Ian to come back to shore.

During this time, the 4 year old director’s daughter, was kicking in the sand near the surf, not daring to go in. She, too, had a deep respect for the hidden dangers of the Sea.

Ian, being too far out to hear his grandmother (or not wanting to hear) kept playing with his new found friends.

The grandmother kept wailing for Ian in what after a while became a seemingly hypnotic yelp. The director’s daughter, sympathetic to the grandmother, responded thus:


I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls

California Girls, Beach Boys


Holla atcha boy!

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