The nightmare camp night part 1

2 weeks ago you learned that being a youth leader in Switserland could be quite adventurous. The story about the hike without food however didn't happen in my group, so I learned the story second hand.

Unfortunately the next story truly happened to my group. It was the year following to this and we went to Fiesch in the Swiss region Valais, in the valley down below the Aletsch Glacier (the biggest in Europe). We were staying in a big domain with multiple buildings against the slope and a sportcomplex. Everything looked very promising to have a memorable vacation with our 14 year olds. And it was, but not in the way I had expected.

Together with 2 other leaders I was responsible for 2 dozen 14-year old girls and a couple of boys. Our group really wasn't well mixed, but sometimes that happens. My 2 other fellow leaders had quite a different mentality than I did:

  • J was a fairly unexperienced leader, always looking for fun and parties but sitting on his lazy a.. . The fact that his dad is a fairly well known politician didn't impress me very much.

  • L was an experienced leader and a perfectionist as me...but somehow always with a different opinion than me. Not easy, but at least we stuck together in our camp preperation in lack of J's collaboration.

The district of Ghent occupied one of the buildings but lacked the room of all of the kids (> 150!). The district leaders and the domain directors had decided that the girls of my group would go and stay in the next building, shared with camp groups from other districts. The entire domain was taken all summer by the same Belgian organisation, but the camps and the volunteers and the kids were always organised and working per regional Belgian district. This way the children also knew they'd meet other children from their "neighbourhood" and the same counted for the volunteering leaders.

I wasn't too happy that my 'yellow' group was split: the boys in the Ghent building and then the girls in the Tielt building. Next to the 2 bedrooms with bunkbeds where the yellow girls slept was a tiny room with one bunkbed. L and I started unpacking in there. Being in the other building meant that we'd have to be on evening shift more often as we couldn't share among the other groups. So it meant less free time in the evenings. And I have to honestly admit: the free time in the evening with the other leaders in the bar and in our district room is really the best of any camp. We were all committed leaders and enjoyed the time with our teenagers, but it sure feels good to be off duty in the evening and to be able to chat/laugh/joke around with the people from your age!!

When the teens go to bed, first all the leaders are in the hallway making sure they actually calm down and go to bed. That's often quite challenging with 14 year olds. Little by little most of them leave when they truly are in bed after half an hour and then 3-4 remain on duty while the others go to the daily district meeting where all activities of the next day get prepared once more. Only after 22-23h, the free time starts until we went to bed waaaaay to late :p. However now I'd have to share a room with L alone and we'd have to be on duty 50% of the evenings I figured. I started off the first evening and night.

While I was being in a bad mood for all of this, the district leader came along again the second day. He had talked to the district representatives for Tielt and apparently their leaders lacked beds now. They had agreed that L and I would go and sleep in the building of Ghent anyway and give up our tiny 2-person room to leaders from Tielt. We'd only hang around until the teens started falling asleep and then the leaders from Tielt would also watch our 2 rooms.

Hmm, part of this was very good news. I'd not be stuck alone in the building for 50% of the evenings but I'd be able to hang out with the other leaders anyway. Yet it felt so strange to not sleep near our group. I totally knew the Tielt leaders would be very good as well, and that they'd take care and watch out for our girls. It was a relief, and yet it didn't feel totally right either. But I had walked by their leaders room and they really lacked beds. Even with our room, they'd still have some people sleep on a mattrass on the floor. What a stupid organisation.

So L and I started packing up our stuff again after one day already in order to move down the slope to the next building. We explained everything to the girls, who were fine with the presence of the Tielt leaders next to their room. They probably thought they'd have a bit more freedom. Little did we know that the events would force us to move back already the next day. And that I still feel bad for not having been there that one night.

....(to be continued).

Do you feel like reading more Soap Opera Sunday stories. Check out the other participants at Canadian Flake who is hosting this week. If you don’t know what the crap I’m talking about? The rules for Soap Opera Sunday are here or here.


Jessica G. said…
Ooooo...Cliffhanger! I've been remembering my own camp experiences and is has me terrified about what comes next.
anno said…
Events? Regrets? Yikes! And yet, even with this experience behind you, you went out and bought a tent?
Kate said…
ooooohhhhhh.... i'll be there!! I love a good story. Thanks for seeing my picture, i was very proud to be asked!
Oh, dear... this sounds like the beginning of a true night of horror. And reminds me of something I may need to post.

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