We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

Friday, July 14, 2017

Time to go

Who won the wager?

Some of the reactions when we said that we were going to work at a youth camp were across the board. Wagers were placed on how long we would last. Four weeks would be the winner. Did we fail? Heck no! It was a good stop on the journey to meet some nice people and
crazy boys. Who would have thought that a youth camp with healthy boys would be such a petri dish? By the third week, there were outbreaks of two different viruses. I opted for the respiratory strain and ended up with a pretty bad case of bronchitis. When I could no longer talk because I couldn't breath, it was time to throw in the towel.
 
The camp owner was understanding and had a backup nurse ready to go and take over.
 
Once we realized it was time to head out, we had to do some fancy foot work. Finding campsites in July and August in the places we wanted to visit is a little more tricky.  
 Before getting sick, we made a visit to Old Orchard Beach to dip our toes into the Atlantic Ocean. I have no idea how the Mainers that were swimming tolerated the cold lobster water.
We woke early and decided to hit the road and head further east. As we drove by Bucksport, we crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge with an observatory in the left tower.

 The campgrounds on Mt Desert Island near Acadia National Park were expensive and booked except for Bar Harbor Campground which does not take reservations. You show up and see what's available, if there is anything. We were willing to take a dry camping site if we had to but lucked out with full hookup with shade trees and a not so bad price with all the blueberries a person can pick and eat included.
 Our campground neighbor gave us some tips on where to buy lobster and scallops at a good price to prepare for ourselves. There are actually two places near the campground that deliver lobster dinners. Where do we begin? How about a nap?
 The camp host that we visited with while he cleaned our firepit brought a load of firewood from another site he had just cleaned in case we might want to use it. What nice people!

Was it a bad choice to work at a youth camp clear across the country? No way, well other than the breathing thing. There were times when the influx of injured or sick boys was overwhelming. Mike stepped up and gave me a hand cleaning injured feet and toes or whatever I needed. It was quite an experience.
 
Now, what to do with all those blueberries and lobster.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cycling in Freeport, Maine

Our day off

One day a week for 24 hours, we are totally free. We took our bikes to Freeport, Maine and got a ride sheet from LL Bean for a 25 mile loop to Brunswick. The morning was foggy and heated up pretty quickly as we rode. Pleasant Hill Road had plenty of ups and downs. Two miles before the end of our loop, I turned into Wealden Farms. Mike said that we didn't have any way to carry anything back if we bought anything. He was wrong. They had the best chocolate chip cookies and a cold drink. It was just what I needed to make the last climb back into Freeport.

 We passed several places on our ride with access to the Atlantic Ocean. The tide happened to be out.
 Green crab cages
Of course, after a bike ride, lunch is a requirement. We had eaten 1/2 of the steamers before I took the picture. Next up was some mighty fine fish tacos.


We stopped back by LL Bean after our ride and lunch but didn't need to buy a thing. I was ready to head home.
I stole a car, accidentally. The camp director told me to take the blue car with the keys in it when I needed to take a camper to the doctor one morning. The car I took was not the blue one she intended.
 
 Later that day, another camper needed to go to the Ready Care.  Mike brought the correct car to me while I got the camper ready. I got in the car and didn't know how to start it. The 14 year old camper had to help me figure out how to make it go. Once we got to the Ready Care, he took the fob and told me how to turn it off. He was kind of proud.  


 The path to Crows Point where the older campers live is a nice 1/2 mile walk.
Part of the sailing lesson is to capsize the boat and then right it. A calm day is the best for that. The boys were able to flip the sailboat but didn't have enough weight to right it. The boys in the upright sailboat got close enough for one of them to swim over and add his weight to get it upright. Success. 

 
I think these Mallards (the youngest campers) would rather be at free time or breakfast instead of the camp photo. I like this kind of photo instead of the one that everyone is posed just right.
 
We enjoy going down to beginner's beach and watch these little guys catch frogs and water snakes. They built a house in woodshop for some frogs The counselor found 3 dead frogs in the house under the bunk a few days later.
 
During "Nature Time" the little boys put 4 frogs in a box. A while later, they noticed only three frogs. The large frog had legs hanging out of his mouth. One of the boys picked it up and pulled the little frog out and let him loose. The little frog didn't last long.
Mike keeps busy fixing things and keeps the vans and boats gased up and ready to go on his own schedule.
 
One day a week doesn't sound like much time off. But we rotate days as primary and secondary nurse. We usually have the day to hang out as secondary if we aren't going to the doctor or pharmacy. Last week was exhausting with some big injuries and plenty of sick kids. Yesterday, I was primary and took a nap in the nurse's room in the afternoon. You just never know.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two weeks in Maine

We are still here after two weeks

11,000 staff and camper converge on the Sabago Lake area between June and August.
Camp is big business in this area. The Fedex trucks have been hard at work delivering footlockers for the soon to arrive campers. 3400 eggs were delivered to our kitchen. The epi pens were purchased and counselors instructed on their use. The health and wellness speech was given and every person inspected.
 
Many of the boys arrive by plane or bus. Some arrived on charter buses that run the east coast, others flew into Portland or Boston and then were bused. The vans have been rented and picked up so the campers can be picked up in Portland and used on the overnight get trips.
The international campers arrived a day early.
 
I bet the ice cream parlors in Raymond are stocked and staff hired for the ritual of families stopping for a treat on drop off day.
It rains quite often in Maine. Even the dog has a raincoat.
He didn't appreciate that I was taking his picture. As I was walking towards him and aiming my phone, he started barking at me like I was doing something he did not like.
 
 Each first year boy is teamed up with a friend with experience that is older and a counselor. The counselors go through psychology lectures the week before camp. A little boy at our table cried our first night but was much better in the morning.  Scoby, a counselor, was able to take him outside and sit and talk with him. I made sure they both had some food after everyone was gone and took apples out to them.

One counselor told me that he had a bad case of homesickness his first year at camp. Now he is heading to college and is thankful for his time here. He met another counselor that is going to the same university and 2 hours after they met, they decided to be roommates in the fall.
 
Many of the camp alumni return and do volunteer work. A dermatologist that was at the girls camp as a girl across the lake gave a presentation on using sunscreen and melanoma. A couple of school psychologists gave presentations to the staff.

The boys come in all shapes and sizes with distinct personalities. They have been respectful and rambunctious.  One afternoon, we skipped out on lunch for a nice seafood and prime rib lunch in town. We commented to ourselves that they were probably glad that they got our deserts.  We were right. They got to split our apple crisp.

  We were returning to our cabin on the hill and could hear the
boys cheering and singing in the woods.

 At breakfast, a camper at our table from Mexico pulled out little packets of hot sauce. Everyone at the table started ribbing him about his contraband.
 
Many of the staff are from England, Ireland and Poland.  A counselor from England told me he wishes he could have gone to camp as a kid but they don't have them there. One morning a vehicle with a government license plate pulled up. The people in charge were making sure all of the foreign paperwork was in order.
 Mike gets his list of things to do and heads out to fix the place up. There is more than enough work to keep him going for a couple of months.
Infirmary
At dinner each night a young camper who loves to read about the presidents gives us a new fact about Calvin Coolidge (the most underrated president).
Reading mail after returning from rafting trip.
 
Outdoor camps are getting more competition from specialty camps such as sports, opera and music. This one is celebrating its 100th year and attempting to plan for the future.
  
We are finally finding our groove here. On my mornings off, I skip breakfast with the boys (we have our own kitchen) and take a walk. I enjoy listening to the birds, loons and wind in the trees before the boys pull out their outside voices. After breakfast, both nurses are in the infirmary to check out the dings while the other nurse pours the  medication for the next day (mostly vitamins and allergy medicine) and then are free to do as we please unless needed on our off day.
 
 The only thing worse than the tics and leeches has to be the boy's feet. Often, I send them to the bathtub to wash their feet before proceeding.
 
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Camp Timanous in Maine

What were we thinking?

I am not sure how I decided that we should work at a boys youth camp. Fortunately, Mike was on board. We had looked at a few camps but decided on Camp Timanous which is north of Portland, Maine after interviewing a few places. He will be the maintenance man and I will be one of the nurses.
We arrived a week before the boys are scheduled to arrive and settled into our cabin. We are up on the hill behind the infirmary and campers. Our cabin has a refrigerator, microwave in the kitchen with air conditioning in the bedroom and is four times larger than our trailer. Our meals are served in the dining hall with the boys and laundry picked up on Tuesdays.
 

 The head of the camp has the office on the left and the infirmary is behind it to the right overlooking Panther Pond which is a huge lake.
 
The counselors are enjoyable and witty but have needed medical attention of their own. My first day, I had to take a counselor to the Ready Care for treatment. His difficulties were above my pay grade. Doc fixed him up and in no time he was back at work.
 There are a number of counselors from England. One of the girls said she could tell who they were by looking at their legs. They are red and swollen from the bug bites. They have not been exposed to Maine's bugs and react pretty badly from the bites.

Many of the counselors that come from overseas travel with Trek America before or after their contract across the US. They are having the time of their lives. Some work in the kitchen, as naturalists or photographers while at camp.
 There is plenty to do to get ready for the campers but we had Sunday off and decided to head to Portland for the day. Once the campers arrive, I will only be able to leave once a week for any extended period of time.  
 
It really isn't a bad place to spend time even if I can't get away more often. They can contact us by walkie talkie if we are needed while away from the infirmary on a walk or kayaking.

Portland, Maine

 Our last visit to Portland, many years ago, was brief. This time after walking around, we opted for a lighthouse boat tour.


 We spotted this osprey while leaving the harbor.

 
 Civil war armory
 One of the over 100 islands in Casco Bay
 The fog was rolling in and the lighthouse faded rather quickly in the fog.



Another armory
 Fort Scammel (Portland's Ellis Island) served as a first checkpoint for immigrants coming to America once Ellis Island became overwhelmed.


Pocahontas, the smallest lighthouse at 6 feet tall and registered with the Coast Guard is on Diamond Island.

The fog drifted in and out at times.



We plan to take the ferry with our bikes to Peak Island while here.

Each lobster fisherman's buoys have specific colors. We weren't able to watch them pick up their traps since it was Sunday. 

Lunch!

It will be interesting to see how this camp works out for us. But 7 weeks, good pay, nice housing and meals provided, it should be ok. Hopefully, the campers and counselors will stay healthy and happy. Fingers crossed.....