There are many ways to spend the summer in college. My great grandmother insists that young men used to bag groceries during summer break. But today, students have higher aspirations, like building wells in Africa or playing Black-Ops for 50 hours straight. I wanted to intern at a local engineering firm, but, like the good college student I am, I waited until a month before to send in my resume. I didn’t hear anything back, but then I caught wind of staff openings at a summer camp I went to as a kid. It was a dream come true.
I didn’t know anything about working at a camp, but I helped out once in high school and I watched “Dirty Dancing.” I knew I wasn’t going to be a sexy dance instructor, and obviously I couldn’t be a female counselor, so I figured working in the kitchen wouldn’t be too tough.
I was so wrong.
I mean, working at camp is totally worth it, but kitchen staff is a lot of work. We had three people to cook for 130 kids. We got up at dawn and went to bed after dark. Most of my days were spent cleaning up from one meal while starting on the next. The kitchen director was a crazy Sicilian lady who was always yelling at me for something, but she couldn’t get my name right. At first, I thought she was always angry with me, but then I remembered that, a lot of the times, Italians are just always yelling. She really is an incredible and extremely caring woman.
Sadly, I didn’t have a summer romance to sing about, like in “Grease.” The closest I got was an intimate relationship with the Hobart brand industrial washing machine, nicknamed Hobie. It got pretty hot and steamy in the dish pit (that’s my mom’s joke).
Actually, I’ve passed a lot of time philosophizing in the dish pit. I could make a comic strip called “Calvin and Hobie.” I had to stay up late one night to de-lime the inside of the machine, reaching down into the abyss to fish out lost silverware. You only let really close friends poke around your innards.
I had a chance to connect with the kids at camp, too. I made silly faces and talked in funny accents when I served the meals or when they brought their dishes up. I put a smile on a little girl’s face by asking her, in a bad French accent, “Woot you like some French toast, mademoiselle?” I hung out with the campers when we set up the camp store in the dining hall and let the little girls put pigtails in my hair.
A group of elementary girls assigned the male staff Disney princess names. I got Snow White, apparently, because I cook, clean and sing while I work. I wondered if animals would start flocking to me. I shouldn’t have said anything because chipmunks and birds started getting into the dining hall after that. A girl even caught one of the birds. I can confirm a bird in hand really is worth two in the bush.
Anyways, that was just a little bit about my glorious summer experience. You won’t necessarily be stuck in a hot kitchen if you work at camp, but any job with long hours working with people can be draining. Just ask the Orientation Leaders. They put together a fabulous presentation for the incoming freshmen without crying themselves to sleep at night. Not that I would know what that’s like.