It was another full day at the campamento, and our last true camp day before Color War! This morning the school courtyard looked unusually full with campers chatting and playing (they have quickly learned where we store the sports equipment), and as we divided into our four groups we realized there were nearly 100 campers at the school. The surge in numbers is a testament to how much fun kids are having– it’s incredible to know that we will have impacted that many kids, even if it was just teaching them a new game, or filling their otherwise largely uneventful summer days– but it also made for one crazy, busy day.
In Sport and Arts n Crafts we tried to prep the kids for a true 12523-style Color War (with a DR twist, naturally). We introduce a lot of Scatico novelties and activities into the camp day Friday, and it helps if campers have practiced a little beforehand. For Sports that meant going over jumprope and the ping-pong relay (a relay race where you need to balance a ping pong ball on a racket), which nearly half the campers tried to cheat at by keeping their thumb under the racket for extra balance, but part of the counselor learning curve is knowing when it’s okay to let things slide and when it’s time to call campers out. For Arts n Crafts prep meant having the campers make shirts to represent their team. Sticking with our underwater mural theme, and underscoring some of the vocabulary from English class, the teams are: The Blue Whales (by far the most popular since kids understood the name best), The Green Alligators, The Red Lobsters (a reference that is, sadly, lost on the campers), and The Yellow Starfish. Last year’s T-shirt making involved a highly messy and stressful tie-dye kit, so this year we refined the process and had kids design sheets of sandpaper with a crayon, which could then be ironed on to a T-shirt (the iron makes the wax of the crayon melt, and transfers the design.) In English kids went over the parts of the body, which will come in handy as we try to explain games like the Standing Broad Jump and Over-Under. And at the mural we attempted to incorporate our recyclable materials into our painted design (with some success) and unveiled the CS logo at the far right of the mural (with MUCH success!, props to Skoller and Patterson for their expertise with masking tape).
With all the commotion of the busy camp day, it’s easy to lose sight of the small moments, but with each passing day we still find new ways to bond with our campers. Holzer has developed a new nickname among the 11-year old group: Justin Bieber. Campers constantly go up to him “asking for autographs.” And the girls have developed a “dance circle” where we simply dance along to a song and have the camper imitate the movements, which has quickly become a staple game in the moments leading up to class. We’ve even mastered how to distribute snack in a way that doesn’t generate total chaos (no Scatico snack bags, or sun cup bugles in Sabaneta.)
Following camp it was off to El Caminante for lunch (a respite from rice, chicken and beans is one thing we are looking forward to in Elizaville), and then to Sosua, a nearby beach, for snorkeling. Sosua is a more built up and touristy destination, with a beach littered with tchotchke stands and restaurant huts, but the waters are a pristine aquamarine calm. We managed to all squeeze in to one glass-bottomed boat (that many people mistook for just having a huge square hole in the middle of it), and went about 10 minutes off shore to see some fishes. A few of us had never been snorkeling before, and while it takes a second to get used to breathing underwater, it was something to check off our bucket lists and we had a large boat of dancing teenagers blasting Miley Cyrus some 100 feet away to keep us motivated.
From Sosua it was back into Cabarete for an hour of shopping, the majority of which we spent waiting for smoothies at a delicious but slooow spot appropriately titled Fresh Fresh. Sipping our mango, banana, pineapple, acaii, kiwi, papaya, etc. creations we hit the beach stands and shacks for souvenirs. There were a lot of Hawaiin shirts, even more woven bracelets, two terry shorts, and even a weird wooden chalice purchased. Plus major shout out to Benny Bochner for hitting the barber shop for a Moe-inspired Dominican fade. Even after just an hour of purely divisional time the tiredness from the camp day begins to wear off, and we’re recharged enough (or almost recharged enough) to do it all again the following morning.
The day ended with a pasta dinner at Beachcomber during which Titi, the hotel’s all-around handy-man and an aspiring musician, serenaded us in Spanish (as we said, we should secretly enter him for the Voice, though he tends towards religious Church songs). And then we capped off the night with a bonfire right on the beach. There is something universally camp in the sound of crackling flames or the sight of flames flickering up towards a starlit sky, whether you’re on a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees with the ocean lapping in the background, or you’re circled up at a campfire pit with pines looming overhead. Our bonfire may have been built of palm leaves, but there was plenty of Scatico spirit in the air.