Back in the Val d’Aran, at the north of Catalonia, someone wrote about the inner poise provided by summer camps. Poor thing!
This was my week.
Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t published anything for two weeks, the greatest gap until today — and last post was obviously prepared in advanced, which means I haven’t actually written for a while now. There’s a simple reason for this:
Mon 7: back from a camp. Sun 8: do the laundry and tidy my flat. Mon 9: private English lesson and checking a correction with the client. Tue 10: meeting with my master’s project director and meeting about the following camp. Wed 11: finish my master’s project and meeting with a new monitor. Thu 12: business at the Spanish Inland Revenue, clean the flat and other business which prevented me from attending a birthday party. Fri 13: SCATERM meeting and last preparations for the camp. Sat 14: The camp starts, and so does chaos.
Long gone are the times when I used to be a plain monitor who didn’t need to make decisions or be stressed about the organisation.
Last night we entered the second half of the summer camp that started last Sunday in the Val d’Aran.
Once more I venture into the English and sports combined summer camps. Common sense told me not to waste two weeks three-hundred kilometres away from home, at the very north-western end of Catalonia, where I’m as close to the Atlantic Ocean as to the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, common sense isn’t always the best adviser.
Even though I need time more than money right now, inner poise is more important than any of them. Leaving our comfort zone and breaking the routine is the only way to distinguish different periods in our life and not to abhor existence. The result is even better if the camp is in a forgotten valley with a small group which enables deeper relationships. Additionally, the director of the hostel is never here and the cook is a lovely woman, therefore we can do whatever we please, within legality — usually.
So please forgive me if I don’t show up much these days; I’m on the mountain purifying my soul from a year of urban life.
Summer is almost here and there’s a group of people who know it very well. No, I’m not talking about the teachers, but the monitors.
Camps aren’t improvised as they go; preparations begin months before they start. Had you ever sent your kids to or joined yourself a summer camp, you’d know inscriptions are open long before summer. If that much time is needed to inscribe the kids, imagine how hard it is to find monitors and assign them to each camp and to program the activities.
A monitor training session consisting on some conferences and a round table debate was held last Saturday. Truth be told, we only cared about meeting our old mates. There’s no way to explain the happiness of seeing those friends with whom you’ve shared two to six intense summer weeks an year ago; so many things to tell and ask, the will and the impossibility to stop and talk to everyone and run to every other one you spot at the same time, chatting and hugging all around.
If the choice was ours to make, we’d stay and organise a monitors camp, which would be a commune of people who enjoy violating all the existing theories on life space with overacted — though still real — signs of love. Then you realise you won’t be in the same camps and that you’re going to miss them. However, it probably wouldn’t be that magical if our time together wasn’t limited. But it is.
And summer is over. Yes, there are still two weeks left, but we’re back to normal life and work already. This is the story of how my summer ended.
The third part of my summer has been quite like the first one. I’ve been working as a monitor again, but this time I was in L’Escala, at the very north of the Catalan coast, whereas two months ago I was at the south. And last time the kids were 8-12 years old and now they were 12-16, and they were more than twice as many as in June. And there were no mosquitoes. I guess it wasn’t that much like the first part of my summer after all.
These two last camps have been even more special than that. Most of the coordinators work in the same youth hostel every summer and L’Escala had a peculiar one. This year they gave the two last camps to a very different coordinator in order to try a different style there and reinvent L’Escala. I had never worked with him before, but we climbed the Aneto together three years ago with other monitors and I knew he was a great person. And I must say that I loved the new L’Escala. I’m proud of having been part of that team.
There was an extra motivation for me; the day the kids arrived I saw lots of familiar faces, kids I met last year or before and with whom we got along. Those two camps had everything I needed to have a great end of summer. If only I had time to work on that Catalan-language-related work and I didn’t need to make up for the eighty hours I was supposed to work in August…