Sunday, May 24, 2009

Leadership Camp

I packed up my swimming trunks and granola bars and headed out for a post-graduation leadership camp. The occasion was me having designed a 5 day trip for my school’s unique and apparently award-winning orientation program (see next entry for details on my specific trip). I was a little stressed about giving up three days out of my already tight schedule, but I was dedicated to making the trip a success, and I figured getting to know some of the other leaders could prove useful.

We arrived at a low-key place named “Neringa” without having any idea what was to befall us. The campground was actually a Lithuanian nunnery the school had rented out. We stayed in a gorgeous lodge with exposed wood everywhere. The spacious kitchen was lined around the parameter with cabinets laminated white labels no one could read. There were 22 of us in all.

We played a variety of games led by a too-cheery-to-believe woman with obvious new-agey inclinations. I’ll spare you the details of most. Suffice it to say we spent time rubbing strangers, improvising blindfolded, and no one ever won anything. I wonder what kind of person I would have grown up to be if this all were more familiar than awkward.

My main objective in being there was to get to know my co-leader. I had designed the trip on my own, but needed someone else to help make it a reality. There was A, a woman short in stature but bulky in physique. Her face was full of metal, her tongue split, her dreads ¾ inch in diameter. She exuded toughness and had most recently worked as a bouncer to boot. She was interested in the trip for the construction aspect but her father was a sustainable architect in Boston. Our energies and resources complimented each other. I was impressed by how good of a match we were, and found a lot of comfort in her unfamiliar laughter.

Half way through the trip, she sat down on an unfinished floor and got impaled in the ass. Now, I never saw said splinter, but I hear it was an inch and a half long. I was impressed by how she owned it in the middle of the meeting, I mean really, that might be the most embarrassing moment of her life. Several unsuccessful attempts with and without tweezers resulted in a trip to the hospital. After a one-on-one session with a scalpel, she spent the next two days hocked up on vicodin, which was understandable but rendered her pretty much useless. I did all the work with maybe a little resentment but it’s hard to be grumpy in a beautiful place, in one of my last moments of familiarity before I thrust myself into the unknown.

At the end of the training, I left with a desire to spend more time getting to know A, regret that I hadn’t skipped out on a few activity times to explore the land, and a quiet anxiety about whether or not I was the right kind of person to lead one of these trips.

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