Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm not crazy, I swear.

As of last Friday, I have officially spent half of my life working at my summer camp. Sixteen years. In some ways, it doesn't feel like it. In other ways, I feel ancient. I think about how young I actually was, about how green I was, and about all of the big events I've gone through since I started working there.

There was the burial ceremony for my grandfather's ashes, the deaths of my maternal grandparents, high school graduation, going to college, meeting the man I would marry, editing the college newspaper, flying to Idaho with my friends for the first wedding of a friend I ever attended, going to New York and DC for conventions, interning for a local weekly paper, spending a summer as a secretary, beach trips, the family trip where we drove to Philly, 9-11, graduating from college, getting my first real job, getting married, having a honeymoon, moving into our house, getting downsized, getting a year-round gig there for three years, taking tests towards certification, going back to school, getting hired at school, travel camp with children, Hurricane Katrina, going back to my alma mater, living with my in-laws, living with my parents, Mark living in Baton Rouge in a trailer, Mark moving in with my parents, living there for 2 years, rebuilding our lives, buying our home, working on our home, swimming with manatees, becoming a certified teacher, getting the plays, taking over the yearbook, coaching bowling, getting my coaching certification, traveling with students, Obama's election, attending his inauguration, getting my car totaled by a drunk woman, traveling to Greece, becoming a certified journalism educator, and so many more little things.

Sixteen years ago, I couldn't drive. Stacy and I rode our bikes to work that first year. Later, she got a car, and she would bring me. We were junior counselors. I rose to senior counselor, then unit head, and now I'm the assistant director. I've been through more directors and assistant directors than I can count.

Sixteen years ago, I wasn't anywhere near what I am today. I teach a kid who was my worst camper ever (the kind that makes you never want to work with kids again). Ten years after he was the bane of my existence, he was one of my bowlers, and he's working for me now. He didn't remember having me as his counselor, but he did remember how he acted back then. He was concerned that I would hold his past against him. I told him that I wouldn't hold his past against him, because I didn't want him to hold my past against me. Ha.

Sixteen years ago, if you'd told me that I would still work here, I'd have thought you were an idiot. I was going to be a JOURNALIST. I didn't know that my years at camp would lead to a year-round gig for three years, or that it would influence me to go back to school for my teaching certification and to make a big career change. I also had no way of knowing that print journalism is a dying art, and that getting out when I did was the smartest thing I ever did.

People always ask me why I keep doing this. It has especially been common this year. I don't really have a solid answer. My standard response is that I need to have something to do during the summer, or else I would weigh 800 pounds and be in debt. Which is true. I've never worked retail and I've never worked in food services. I need a teaching break, and we also don't do our own summer school, so I can't teach that. I'm the assistant director; if I was a counselor, I probably would have given it up years ago. I like being administration. Without a master's, I cannot be scholastic administration. And I'm not sure that I would necessarily want to be out of the classroom. So this settles that desire while keeping me in the classroom. And, it's just something I enjoy. I shouldn't have to justify that.

I guess people are just not used to people who have one, let alone two, jobs which they love wholeheartedly. But I somehow do. Neither pays well. Both demand ridiculous hours and mental strain, as well as work "after hours." And yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know how lucky I am. I don't take these things lightly. And so, I continue to work at both places. And will do so for as long as I can.

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