Teenagers and Dead Bugs

Saturday, July 6th, 2024

KITCHEN DINING AREA circa 6:30pm—Counselors on small stools at the end of each picnic table wait for the campers to arrive, each table freshly set with plates and utensils. The heat is thicker than tomato sauce today and a faint breeze seems to tease the possibility of relief without ever delivering. The outdoor dining space is shaded by large bay trees whose sweeping diagonal trunks divide the space in irregular portions. As a whole the kitchen is a sort of an accidental rainbow: the red Cholula bottles, the orange and yellow water coolers, the green and blue waste bins. As campers begin to stream in, Aerials Instructor Jack Crawford takes the stage (see: a small deck in front of the dish house).

“Welcome to the Camp Winnarainbow Dining Room,” says Jack. “Everybody please find a seat.”

Children swarm for a frenzied 30 seconds, deciding which table to sit at and with whom, some with laser-like focus, and others with blissful apathy. The last campers left standing are ushered into the remaining empty seats.

“Now let’s hear from the kitchen!” says Jack.

Camp Chef Sauce Man Steve emerges from the kitchen with his unmistakeable psychedelic rainbow t-shirt and black apron combo.

“Tonight is Lasagna Night!” he announces triumphantly. A collective “woo-hoo” simultaneously signals both excitement and weariness from the heat. Jack solicits a volunteer to say grace. Camilla, 10, of the Maroon Tipi approaches and takes the mic. Jack then strikes two small meditation chime bells together, creating a piercing high tone that signals the need for respectful attention. The crowd goes quiet.

“Be grateful for everything you have in life and be grateful for your friends and family.”

“Aho!” responds the crowd, and the noise of chatter resumes. Counselors and teen staff circle their tables in concert, dolling out lasagna, salad and water. Dinner has begun!

Earlier today I made my rounds to hear about last night’s Teen Staff Talent Night as well as this morning’s special event, People’s Day.

“I feel like I was just messing around, but I wanted kids to laugh, and they did,” said Teen Staff Max. “I did the ‘Tech Act,’ where set up mics, summoned three audience plants who stood silently in front of the mics for a few seconds, and then we struck the mics. I was also in the ‘Backstreet’s Back’ act, a callback to the teen staff from 2019. We had six Backstreet Boys, three back-up dancers, and eight people on the rainbow to pop out during the chorus and sing ‘yeah-eah.'”

“It was fun working with my fellow teens,” said Teen Staff Jojo. “I performed ‘II Most Wanted’ by Beyoncé featuring Miley Cyrus. I didn’t really know the words and I was playing a ukulele with only two strings on it.”

“It started out with me singing this one lyric over and over again,” added Teen Staff Charlie. “At first it annoyed Jojo but then she started saying it all the time. We dressed up as cowboys. The point was to show the kids that they can get on stage and just be goofy.”

“I had my emcee debut during the tightrope act,” said Teen Staff Clay. “I was really focused on having big reactions and well-placed interjections. I had a script and I really tried to live into it. I think Teen Talent Night is a really great opportunity. Obviously at Camp there’s a lot of opportunity for campers to perform, and for the adults too, so it’s good for the teens to get our own chance to get on stage and do our thing.”

On the middle Saturday of every two-week session, Camp holds a special event called ‘People’s Day’. It’s a program that is reserved to be designed on-site by counselors who inspiration around a certain theme. This session we had a ‘Winnarainbow County Fair,’ which was a mixture of a Water Carnival (see: counselors spraying children with hoses and sprinklers while playing games) and a fierce political debate between two fictional candidates for the presidency of Camp’s Dead Bug Collection. The event began with a pre-breakfast speech from the Mayor of Winnarainbow County.

“Hear ye hear ye! I am the mayor of Winnarainbow County. I am very pleased to announce today starting at 10:30am is the Winnarainbow County Faire! I am the Mayor of the Faire! As you all know, this is an election year, for the Dead Bug Collection. Later this session, we will hold a Dead Bug Collection Election, of which I am the Election Chair. I’m the mayor of the Fair and the Election Chair. Today, at the Winnarainbow County Faire, you will all get a chance to meet the candidates and witness the first Dead Bug Presidential Debate. Bee there or bee square! Sincerely, Mayor of the Faire, Dead Bug Collection Election Chair.”

“The kids were really into it,” said Drumming Instructor and Mayor portrayer Jeff Brown. “It was the perfect combination of fun activities and a story line acted out from our characters that really made things interesting. The whole morning kids were running around in the creek and the sprinklers and yelling at the antagonstic characters.”

“There was the Mayor, the two candidates, a general and a judge,” explained Stage Technician Zoë Takaki who organized the event. “The general was going around armed with bug spray and issuing citations to any campers who were respecting nature. The judge made sure that order was kept, and swore in the candidates on Wavy’s memoire prior to the debate.”

“The morning culminated in a camper-led protest march around downtown Camp,” continued Zoë. “Everyone spontaneously started singing ‘All we are saying, is give bugs a chance,’ (see: John Lennon) and I think it brought Milla to tears. In the end, the incumbent candidate, Barbara Schmorbus (Slug party, Improv Grove) was so moved that she resigned and the big twist was that the challenger, J. Robert Booth (Wasp party, Propane Tank), was actually a butterfly all along.”

Special Blog Correspondant Harmony Methgen submitted the following quotations from the event.

“Voting for me is hazardous to your health.”
—J. Robert Booth

“This is a government conspiracy to distract from the fact that mosquitos are government-controlled.”

“I’m Canadian.”
—Muffin, Ultraviolet

“I believe in love and peace.”
—Lilah, Blue

“According to all current evidence, bugs were here first.”
—Dr. Phil

The Dead Bug Collection Election will reportedly proceed on Tuesday with two candidates that are actually dead bugs.

Stay hydrated,

—J. Payseno, Editor