Strange places (Or: Volunteering and summer camps)

My friend Roger had an interesting work assignment today …outside. Of course, this meant that Amsterdam was experiencing horrible downpours at times today!

Once a year his company volunteers somewhere. This year, he and his coworkers were asked to spend a day with kids. Most of his morning was spent preparing for their arrival, as the organization decided to host a barbecue dinner outside (but still underneath a party tent). This entailed cleaning out a barn, setting up tables and chairs, and hanging balloons.

Due to the aforementioned weather, only 20-30 kids showed up (they were expecting at least 80). They first went on a nature walk, with Roger’s company hanging out disposable cameras for the kids to take pictures with. After, it was time for the barbecue, so Roger helped cut some bread, serve some barbecue, and more. Yum. I heard fun was had by all. Even when it started pouring outside the tent…

On my own side of the world, I was taking the bus home from work today. When we were approaching the town that I live in, a young gentleman with a backpack rang the stop button and then hurried up to the front of the bus and asked if this was (my town) yet. The bus driver said yes, and asked where he was going. Turns out he was really close – he wanted to get off at Shoprite.

The person then ran back a few rows and grabbed a rather large piece of luggage, still adorned with a JFK airport tag (a long commute after a plane ride!). The driver wasn’t exactly the most helpful in this situation, unfortunately. The man looked pretty panicked, lost, and confused, so I told him not to worry, as Shoprite was only about two turns away. I asked him why he was going there, as I thought it rather strange for someone with luggage to be dropped off there in particular…

As he answered, I realized he was German, though his English was fine. He said he was going to a camp. Ah! I thought. The nearby summer camp.  The first time I saw counselors from there, there were about 10 of them waiting for the bus to the Palisades Center. And based on their accents, I highly suspect the entire set of camp counselors is from countries other than America each year. As he got off the bus, I made sure to smile and say I hope he had fun at the summer camp. He smiled back and thanked me.

I was actually a bit concerned about him just getting off in some random place in some random town probably in a country he had never set foot in before, but if I were to get off at that stop, it would add another 20 minutes just to walk home. The camp was so close I think his ride could have been there in 3 minutes tops.

The reason I was empathetic to his situation was because I did the camp counselor gig twice, both times in college. The first was a camp in Minnesota (Friendship Ventures) and then a camp 25 minutes from home (Shady Oaks), which was nice since I could go home on my free weekends. The first camp I did the same thing as the German counselor – flew over, though thankfully I was picked up at the airport. But I was the first counselor to arrive, so it was weird to be left in the cabin all alone that first night…

Shady Oaks was interesting because I was the ONLY American there! Everyone else was from a different country. I have a few of them still friended on my Facebook page, although unfortunately we don’t really keep in touch anymore.

All in all, an interesting day for Roger, and an interesting bus ride for me. I hope the gentleman on the bus is settling in great right now!

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Categories: Friends&Family | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Strange places (Or: Volunteering and summer camps)

  1. AnonymouslyKnown

    Nice post! Hubby and myself will be doing volunteer work in the morning Hope to get some pics…

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