Monday, October 28, 2013

Rock Wall, Waterfront, Target Sports, High Ropes

Day 2 

I love how the counselors wake you up in the morning at camp. It doesn't even feel like someone just disturbed my slumber because their sweet tap on the shoulder is like a reminder of where you are. Instead of being at home, I'm sleeping in a sleeping bag in a cabin at Camp Del Corazon!

Every year I usually wake up early to participate in Wake N' Wind or the Morning Hike but this year I decided to sleep in on the first morning of camp. Usually I'm like, "WOO! TIME TO HAVE THE BEST DAY EVER! I'M TOTES READY FOR THE BEST DAY EVA!" but this morning I was more like, "Mmmm it's still sleepy time..."

Once it was time to actually wake up I was told it was crazy hair breakfast. I decided I looked crazy enough with my robot onsie and Yoshi slippers so I don't think I tried super hard to achieve maximum craziness.

The first morning at camp means the first Sunshine Dance. I told myself I would film this entire years experience but I must say; filming while doing the Sunshine Dance was harder than I thought it would be. But, I tried my best to dance full out. I don't care what anybody says, the Sunshine Dance is awesome and magical. Do you know how many rainy days I've endured at camp?


It's magic.

There's no argument.

Breakfast on the first day is always the same; waffles and sausage. I don't know what the kitchen staff does to those waffles to make them so fluffy and delicious but this meal has always been a particular favorite of mine.

For those of you who actually know me, know I am obsessed with Disney. I remember listening and belting out Disney songs during not just this meal but EVERY MEAL. Listening to Disney music was not anything out of the ordinary for me and I particularly enjoyed creepily serenading everybody to A Whole New World.

By the end of breakfast, we went back to our cabins to attempt our win at Clean Cabin Queens. The time between breakfast and our first activity always seems to fly by so we never seem to actually finish cleaning. We tidied up for the clean cabin judges, the med nurses, and quickly began out descent to our first activity; rock wall. This year we shared almost all our activities with the oldest boy cabin; Senior III. I wonder why...!?

Since year one, rock wall has always been one of my favorite activities. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I was nicknamed Spider Monkey(no Twilight references please!) because I could climb to the top of the wall within 30 or 45 seconds. This year, whether it was the rock wall or high ropes, the counselor Boomer was always my belayer.

Best worst miswording ever: Andale!= On Belay

We gave a camp appreciation to the wall staff, bid our farewells, and continued to our next activity. Our next activity was at the waterfront so our cabin was smart enough to put on our bathing suits before we left for the rock wall so we wouldn't have to stop at the cabin.

We set up our towels and I chilled on the beach for awhile before I decided to life jacket up and slowly make my way into the water. Going into the ocean is like slowly taking off a band aid and feeling every little tug on each little individual hair. Eventually, you just have to rip the band aid off. By that metaphor, I mean GO FOR IT and just dive underwater and start swimming. Sooner or later, the freezing temperature isn't nearly as bothersome.

After introducing the game Crack the Egg to the little kids on the trampoline and trying out the new Slip N' Slide I couldn't feel any of my extremities. It was a sign for me to warm up in the sun and chill out on the beach with my cabin and my ukulele, Charlie (Yes. I named my ukulele Charlie. My cabin counselor, Jellybean, also brought her ukulele AND named her ukulele Charlie... Coincidence? I THINK NOT.).

We had enough time to go back to the cabin, change out of our soaking wet bathing suits, and freshen up before lunch.

 After every lunch is another camp tradition; the squirrel dance. Counselors will dress up in everything and anything from the costume box and prance around the dining hall to Mambo Number Five holding and showing off all the lost items found in the squirrel box (including your dirty underwear). If you happen to see one of your items than you must go up to the front of the Dining Hall to squirrel for it in front of everyone. The Squirrel Dance was originally made to be embarrassing but it has the adverse affect on a lot of us. Most of the campers, myself included, voluntarily squirrel danced just because it was a priceless camp tradition!

We went straight from lunch to Quiet Hour to our third activity; target sports. Some of you may already know this but target sports used to be my weakest skill. After my transplant, I saw a significant difference in myself during this activity. I hit the bullseye almost every time I slowly pushed down on the trigger! I give the credit to my donor and his mad shooting skills! Thanks to him, this has become one of my new favorite activities.

(P.S. The above picture is one of my favorite pictures. Gotta have at least one favorite bad ass, narcissistic photo right?)

After giving another camp appreciation to the target sports counselor, Raybat, we headed to our last and final activity of the day; High Ropes. One of my goals for this year was to stand on top of Eagles Perch. For those of you who don't know what that means... basically:

One has to climb up a pole [enter stripper joke here] and balance both feet on the very top with an addition of gusty wind trying to blow you off balance. Majority of the time, I stayed in one position contemplating to myself whether to move my other leg, like so:

Obviously I made it up there.

Goal= Accomplished!

However, my favorite part is coming down...

Attractive. I know.

Out of the three available high rope courses, one was good enough for me. It may not look very exhausting but when I came down I was completely out of breath.

Only the coolest cats can make it to the top of the Eagles Perch... strike that.

Only the coolest cats can attempt the Eagles Perch... strike that!

Only the coolest cats can look at the Eagles Perch and be like, "I like sitting. Sitting is great."

Near the end of any day involving a water activity, Shower Hour is almost as equal to some of the best feelings in the world. Such as:

Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you still have hours to sleep.
Getting a good grade on a test that you didn't study for.
The combination of shaved legs and fresh bed sheets (you manly men will never understand!)
Perfectly peeling off the price sticker.
Personally, I love it when people can't stop laughing at my jokes.
I also love it when people tell me I smell nice. Cause I know when I don't smell nice... and it's not nice.
Removing makeup after a long day (or when your eyes are just irritated).
Steaming hot showers after an even longer day.

I'm sorry why were we on this topic again...?

...OH YEAH, Shower Hour.

Our cabin raced back to Girl's Camp to have first picks of the showers. After seeing no one there we knew we were in for a nice, hot shower. Guess what? ALL THE SHOWERS WERE FREEZING. I got in and got out as soon as I could cause cold showers are the least relaxing, at least to me. Better luck finding a warmish shower tomorrow...

We got ready for dinner that lead to our own personalized evening activities. During the scavenger hunt the day prior, we were given the options of participating in the regular evening activities, setting up our own camping out experience exclusive to the graduating campers, or hosting Skit Night. Of course we decided to camp out! That's like a one in a CDC lifetime experience! We also double loaded and decided to also host Skit Night to make it one memorable night for everyone!

Skipping right through dinner...

We grabbed our sleeping bags and things for the morning and walked towards the back of the camp ground. First test, each cabin had to set up their own tent for the night. We started in the daylight and ended by needing out flashlights. Not saying that we're slow or anything.... but the guy's finished before us.

We headed into the darkness of the camp forest looking area and participated in a couple team building activities similar to the ones in Adventure. Actually, the same activities used in Adventure just... dark outside.

The first activity was like a memory game. We had to configure and remember a path out of each square and have everyone walk safely across the path avoiding the imaginary lava. It makes more sense if I just show you...

The second activity was a bit more challenging. We had to choose a leader to lead us across a log while all holding hands without anyone falling. If anyone did fall we all had to start over. This activity took us probably an hour(or so it seemed) before we figured out a strategy.

The third activity consisted of smores.

Lovely, lovely smores.

After eating smores with the rest of the camp, the graduates and our counselors gathered by the fire in the
Amphitheater. I don't think the next activity can really be described as an "activity"... more like one of those deep conversations you have at 2 A.M. with one of your best friends. Each one of us had to write down a fear on a slip of paper. You could write down anything you wanted but the majority of us stayed on the mature, deep side of life pondering things. You had the option of sharing your fear and throwing the slip of paper into the fire or not sharing and simply throwing the slip of paper into the fire metaphorically burning your fear. I'm like an open book so I shared the fear I wrote down which correlates with my heart problems.
One of my deepest fears is having my health downfall again to the point of needing a third transplant. I've researched third retransplantations and I've yet to find one case, successful or not. I don't know what scares me more... Not surviving the surgery or having to once again change every aspect of my life and taking it one gruesome day at a time.

Burn that fear....

The night didn't end there.

We grouped together in the dining hall to talk about our possible futures at Camp Del Corazon. All of us, of course, want to become camp counselors someday(more like as soon as possible). But facing the facts, not all of us will become counselors but we all still have equal opportunities to be apart of the Corazon family. I would say another one of my fears is not being able to return to Catalina Island as a counselor. I realize factors in life, like college, can get in the way but Camp Del Corazon isn't just a summer camp to me; it's my childhood and countless other meanings to me. I don't want to return just to relive my childhood memories but to create new memories for myself and more importantly, the campers. Because that's what camp is all about; doing whatever it takes to give kids with heart disease one of the best experiences despite your condition.

We all had this mutual feeling but one things for sure: I'm going to take every effort to increase my chances of becoming a counselor. Such as, participating in the PACE program and applying for a counselor position as early as applications are available.

I think we had enough pillow talk for the night. We walked back to the tents and changed up the topic of conversation to scary stories. After listening to a couple stories I decided I'd give it a shot. I guess I made my story pretty believable since everyone seemed creeped out by the end and totally believed it!

Shelby ghost stories for the win!

It was freezing outside, it was a long day, and it was time to finally go to bed. The thought of sleeping in a tent was a lot more comfortable than actually sleeping in a tent... and a lot warmer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day One of the Best Day Ever

Day 1

The night before, I set three alarms to ensure I wake up earlier than expected to beat the lines at the airport. On a regular basis, I already take a long time to fall asleep so you can imagine how long it took me to sleep with all the excitement building inside me. With approximately four hours of sleep, it was time wake up and head to the airport! Once we arrived, I COULDN'T CONTAIN MYSELF. The minute we parked I quickly jumped out of the car, ran through the parking lot and the airline check ins until I could see the cluster of red shirts. I didn't even care to notice how many weird stares I got until it was pointed out to me... probably because I'm lugging a bag that probably weighs more than me!

I checked myself in and for a firsty and was put in a traveling group lead by one of my favorite dude counselors, Woody! It didn't take me very long to make friends with the other campers in my traveling group. I particularly met this one girl, Sierra, who is a freshman in high school and a first year camper. I don't know what it is about first year campers but every time I meet one I think back to when I was seven years old, extraordinarily shy, and a first time camper. Thinking back to how overwhelming it was to attend camp for the first time, how everybody knows everybody, and how you don't know anyone just overpowers me with this feeling to be friends with ALL of these first year campers.

I was so dazed with being reunited with all my friends that I forgot to say goodbye to my parents! It didn't even affect me cause I knew I wasn't going to miss them in the slightest(sorry parental's) and I just continued through security and the terminals. We quickly boarded the plane and as time flew by (Get it...? Flew?... plane... hehe, punny!) we landed in California! Each travel group loaded on their designated tour bus to take us to the boat dock. I sat with one of my best friends, Dj, and we pretty much were freaking out the closer we got to the boat dock.

After a long morning of traveling we finally arrived at the boat dock to be united with our cabin. I was expecting to be put in cabin Cutter (which is usually the eldest girl cabin) but surprisingly this year my cabin was Brigantine! The traveling didn't stop there, after waiting for our luggage to be loaded we began our decent on boat to the wonderful Catalina Island. Traveling is almost just as fun as actually being on the island because we really get to know one another the entire time.

We finally arrived to the Camp Del Corazon grounds after approximately a two hour boat ride! I high fived all the counselors waiting for the first batch of campers and spirited it up with my cabin in the meantime. First things first, we went over all the camp rules. All the 9+ year campers, myself included, were even brought up to the front to answer some "extreme" questions about composting.

Enough with rules and onward with lunch!

The day continued as we headed from the dining hall to the dock to find our luggage. I'm usually one of the few campers freaking out because I can't seem to find my bag until everyone else finds their's first. However, I surprisingly enough spotted my bunny rabbit tags on my suitcase pretty quickly this year (Yes, I identify myself with bunny's). We headed to our lovely Brigantine cabin to settle in and decorate to impress. Strangely enough, Brigantine is usually used as the cabin held for the med nurses so when I heard I was in this cabin I thought it was a mistake because clearly I am not a med nurse (yet!). Our cabin is the first cabin you come across when you enter Girl's Camp. When I first entered the cabin, my friend Sammy and I chose bunks directly next to each other so we could talk at night and take selfies together during Quiet Hour!

Every year, a scavenger hunt is set up to familiarize yourself with the camp grounds (even though it would take brain damage for me to forget where everything is). During this scavenger hunt we're given our water bottles and for the first year ever(at least over my camp years) NOT given animal print sunglasses donated from the early 2000's. We headed back to our cabins to kill some time before dinner leading to our first night of activities.

Tonight's festivities? DISCO BINGO.

I was hoping to win my first bingo this year but... maybe when I'm a counselor! I didn't really care about winning anyway but it was difficult to enjoy myself when I was enduring one of those massive, random headaches all throughout Disco Bingo. Despite my headache, I still managed to party and have fun with my groovy cabin and all the kids!

Gotta give me some props on those Marvel leggings!
It was a long day of airplanes, boat rides, "Face Waves", "Wax on, Wax Offs" and "Jolly Jaywalkers. By the time it was time to go to bed I was ready to pass out! I was surprised I even made it through cabin closing awake. I guess the excitement of a brand new day at Camp Del Corazon kept my dopamine running a little longer.