Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not My Tarp, Not My Problem!

Yes, by popular demand, I am here to tell you what the phrase "Not my tarp, not my problem!" means. Last week over at La Dolce Vita, I was asked to say what phrase I would wear on a t-shirt. My answer was "Not my tarp, not my problem!" and then I explained nothing! :) I'm mean, I know!! I say this with the warning of: be careful what you ask for!

Back in the summer of 1999, I was home from college. Home from freedom... that wasn't going to work. So I sought out a summer job that would take me away from home. My best friend Becky, she's been shown here before, was working at a camp for the second summer and said that if I should join her. We had grown up in scouts together - in fact we became friends at a camp (after knowing each other for an entire school year and hating each other.) And so I thought GREAT! I loved working with younger girls and it would be an adventure.....

Oh my word, did that phrase come back to bite us all in the arse! You see - the way this camp was laid out staff wise is as follows (roughly from my memory): 1 camp director, 1 assistant director, 1 cook, 1 assistant cook, 2 nurses, 1 life guard: KP, 1 activities director: Ivy, 4 unit leaders, 2 foreign exchange counselors and about a dozen other counselors (that was me and Becky.) Now why on earth did I just give you a list of all the staffing positions? Well to make the following list easier to understand the chaos.

The summer began with staff orientation, we all meet and become acquainted with one another. Our two exchange counselors both happen to be from Russia, they didn't know each other before, but it seems GREAT that they have a common companion. We all sleep outside under overhangs, but basically outside. We sleep on beds inside our sleeping bags and tarps cover our beds during the day (and night... it gets dewy,) orientation ends and that's basically the beginning of everything.

My brain is fussy as to the when and where of each specific nut falling from the tree, but the general order is as follows: The camp director quits, the assistant director isn't old enough to be in charge, so nurse #1 takes over as camp director and continues her nursing duties, I leave for a week for a prearranged nannying job and while I am gone 2 unit leaders quit, they then take the oldest counselors and put them in the unit leader jobs (one of those was Becky), in the middle of the night Becky is hauled out of bed and is helping nurse #1, Ivy and KP chase nurse #2 out of camp. In theory he had a knife... it was all chaotic and unexplainable. Nurse #1 is now the only nurse AND camp director. Assistant camp director quits after having some scandal with another counselor... (yes all girls camp.) We're in the mountains, there are bears. Bears climb into windows of the Pill Box (Nurses Station) we chase them out of camp. Many small children are falling down throughout camp causing multiple trips down the mountain for legal reasons to verify and confirm they are in fact fine. Toward the end of the sessions, this includes a trip to the ER for myself who busted a tendon in her hand when assisting taking out the trash. Someone had to cut my meat the rest of camp. After Nurse #2 ran off, then the Russians started to wander off. No one wanted them in their unit - they were negative staff (or just two more children in your charge.) One night they left camp for good. Those in charge pulled their work visas and they were never heard from again. Basically they defected. Delightful. Now we're two more counselors down. We end up running out of so many counselors to girls ratio that myself and another counselor Melody had to sit in a bathroom that is shared between two of the units and played Indian head poker for 2 hours, in order to be "legal" HA!!! while the unit leaders had a meeting. Then our cook (a batty ol' woman) carved a frozen ham with the wood saw and then fell in the kitchen tried to set up a workman's comp claim. She was asked to leave. Assistant cook, couldn't cook. She left because it was too much pressure. No cook for a camp that has 120 girls and a dwindling staff. I became the head cook and all the counselors chipped in where they could. Our staff was decimated, the camp was "sold out", there was a mud slide that had to be dealt with, and us counselors were allotted 2 hours a day of "free time" typically used to go to the staff house to shower or sleep indoors. Every 10 days we were give a 24. 24 hours to leave the hell hole happy summer camp and shave our legs and have a real meal.

Now in the staff house we had a board, it was a very cathartic board. It is where we wrote our feelings quotes that were said when we were going mad having fun. Things like "Tastes like dirt and I like it!" or "What if a pine cone falls on my daughter's head?" as was asked by an idiot concerned parent at Parent Orientation. And after a summer of chaos and madness certain things have stuck in many of minds. Including "Not my tarp, not my problem!" it was said very literally to one of our fellow counselors, or perhaps even to a small camper. Regarding something to do with their bed. It wasn't my bed. It was theirs and therefore any issue was their own. And thus a phrase that has entered into my regular vocabulary for the last ten years. "Not my tarp, not my problem!" You've got issues, not my problem! Because after and amid the crazy summer we were having there wasn't a whole lot of room for trivial issues of tarps.

Now all this sounds insane, maddening or plain confusing.... it was! But you know, all the campers were always safe and it was one of the best summers of my life and I came back the next year, as the chef... well after the other cook had quit. :)

10 comments:

Just call me Peach ;-) said...

Oh wow! What a summer! I remember the first-and only-time I attempted summer camp. I was about 13 or 14 and I was so miserable I called my parents crying to come and get me. They did, of course and I never went again.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I can't wait to follow you and read more about your little family as I lurk around a bit :) Have a wonderful Monday!

The Blonde Duck said...

That's too funny! I never got to go to summer camp.

Rebecca Jo said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog... I have been wandering around yours... First, I had to laugh since we have the same name of "JO" - then we have the same background on our blogs... OK - we're already going to be fast friends!!!

And what a cutie pie you have!!! Love the family picture of you three in the nature setting in the posts below!!!

Whitney said...

This is hilarious. I felt chaotic just reading this. :) I'm glad you were still able to have fun and make good memories!

Crazee Juls said...

I was wondering if you were going to post this story, and WHOA....

That's some crazee, crazee summer camp...

Where can I sign up?

AndreaLeigh said...

oh wow! summer camp was the best. i'm just stopping by from sits to say hello.

RamblingMother said...

Interesting so could be applied today at the government level, TARP. heh. Stopping by from SITS.

Stacey said...

I loved reading that. I was a camper and a counsellor and I could totally relate to so much of it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Kristen said...

I am surprised you even came back! Let me guess...Becky begged you.

Megan said...

That's a hilarious story, and you tell it well!