Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lost and Lost

As I lead campers and counselors through the summer, there are a few things that I still can’t figure out about summer camp. Now I’m all for a mystery and I certainly don’t profess to know everything, but these are relatively harmless, simple things that should have easy solutions.
The first enigma is the lost and found. Frankly, I just don’t get it. I’m finally comfortable with the fact that the washing machine and/or dryer eat socks. I can live with the thought that forgotten and lost lunches happen. I can even relate to household pets eating homework, but I can’t figure out how things that end up in the lost and found belong to NO ONE.
I’m not a clean freak or even very organized, but I think that if I sent my child to day camp and he/she came home without something important like an expensive bathing suit or a beach towel, I’d take the time to look for it. Parents are asked to label everything, but few things actually have a name on them. The counselors do a great job sorting out what belongs to whom, but, honestly, it’s a job that is bigger than we are. Each day several new items are added to the pile in the lost and found. So . . .are moms going out each evening and buying new suits and towels? Do they wonder where the lunchbox ended up?
We have “Is this yours?” once a week. I hold up a lost item and ask who it belongs to. At least 70% of the time – it belongs to no one. I may not have all my marbles, but I know that someone brought each item that eventually ended up in the lost and found. I’ve actually said, “Come on, people. This towel didn’t come here because it heard we were a great camp. Someone brought it here and that someone is probably standing among us. Please look closely.” No one answers, so on to the next thing. A bathing suit. I often plead to their sense of style. “This bathing suit is adorable! Whoever owns this bathing suit has fabulous taste. Who lost it?” No one lost the suit. It belongs to no one. My frustration grows. Once there was a perfect pair of sneakers. How can someone lose a whole pair of sneakers and not know it? I talked about the blinking lights on the side of the shoes. I mentioned the really cool color. I begged! At one point I was reduced to saying, “Who wishes these were their shoes?” No one owned or wanted the shoes.
During one particularly difficult session of “Is this yours?” I, unfortunately, took my frustrations out on the counselors. I took them to one side and said, “Listen, guys, we have to be more careful when the children are changing. Make sure that everything is put in their backpacks.” Their response? I follow their gazes and I’m greeted with four backpacks. Guess who they belong to. NO ONE!
And. . . how in the world does anyone explain the occasional naked child; the one that has misplaced his or her entire wardrobe? That’s another thing I don’t understand. Last summer we had a little boy walk from the pool house to his home base room where backpacks, lunches and other personal items are kept, in search of his clothes. He did it in a complete state of nakedness. There was a counselor hurrying to catch him, towel in hand, with a shocked look on her face. When we both got to him, my friend, Paula asked, “Ricky, where are your clothes?” The six year old answered matter of factly, “Well, if I knew where they were, I’d have put them on.” How does one respond to that?
Just last week a little girl was with her group walking to musical drama with only a towel on. She was quite confident that she was well covered, but her entire back side was completely exposed and she had NOTHING on under the towel. Again a counselor said, “Maggie, you have no clothes on!”
Her response? “I know.”
“Don’t you think we need to find your clothes?” asked yet another shocked counselor.
“Okay,” replied Maggie. “When you find them, can you bring them to musical drama?”
Before you think we are completely inept, please know that both of these children left their clothes in the pool changing rooms and they were found promptly. There is always one swim counselor that stays at the pool and one that helps in the changing rooms between periods, but occasionally a camper just has to leave quickly for reasons unknown and although they don’t get far, it’s always surprising. I can’t imagine what they are thinking. I also can’t imagine what must be on the minds of the other campers when they see a partially clad body racing across campus. Am I the only one who seems to think this is odd? These children are not toddlers. I’m thrilled that they are comfortable with their bodies and I hope it remains that way, but let’s face it, there’s a time and a place for everything.
Oh, and two more questions. Do you think that anything in the lost and found belonged to Ricky? He’s certainly a likely candidate, don’t you think? The answer: Of course not. He’d never seen any of those things before. What about Maggie? She, too, says that those clothes and things in the lost and found don’t look familiar at all. After a few minutes of what looked like intense concentration, she declared, “They probably belong to NO ONE.”

1 comment:

  1. Um, this is fantastic! Being there, I know it! I am so glad you are doing this!NO ONE sure has good taste! :)