First day of the 2016 Chaa Creek Summer Camp, and what a day it’s been!
It’s a great feeling to be an Eco Kid once again.
I came in 2011 – now, as I returned a junior counselor and blogger/photographer, nothing has changed – and yet everything has changed. The incredibly comfortable yet beautifully rustic still jungle cabins hang around the main building, which serves as both the dining hall and the art center. The trees still loom over the campfire, both oppressing and liberating, casting shadows and letting through bright golden beams of light. The howler monkeys still howl, the spiders still creep, the snakes still slither away inches from your feet.
And yet, its seems that like good wine, Chaa Creek improves with age. As the 2016 campers burst through the jungle and settled around the campfire, the councilors were easy-going and friendly – the campers were relaxed and having fun as they chatted about themselves.
“RIGHT!” Levi Baldwin, our camp director, summed up all our feelings. “LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!”
We started with an icebreaker – the Supreme Spherical Orb of Information, simplified to the Question Ball, where a big beach ball was thrown around. It was scribbled with questions (among them ‘where are you from’ ‘Batman or Superman’ ‘do a handstand’, to loosen up the campers and get to know them. After that, we played the Food Game – everybody picked their nickname, the only requirements being that the letter of the food started with our own, so we got Jarvin Jelly, Peter Potato, Athena Anchovy…
After the games, we started on the banners – the campers were divided into the Toucans, the Jaguars, the Howler and the Tapirs. They then colored in and personalized their team flags, creating a huge mess and having loads of fun as they chased each other around with markers and crayons.
So after a massive cleanup, we assigned each camper to their dorms and let them loose on Chaa Creek. Amazingly, half an hour later all the buildings were still intact and we were ready for dinner!
The cooks really outdid themselves. There was cold, buttery potato salad, perfectly cooked chicken, juicy on the outside but still white and tasty in the middle, and white rice so perfectly cooked that each grain was separate.
Then there was the ice-cream! Opinions differed on whether it was chocolate, vanilla, coconut or even pistachio! Mint and strawberry were also suggested, but quickly brushed aside. The mystery was never solved, but whatever it was, it was cold, tasty and it went down faster than a bullet.
Then it was time for the night hike! We saw literally thousands of spiders, a very annoyed lady scorpion, some vicious ants and caterpillars hairier than a monkey. We even spotted an armadillo, but it waddled off. Obviously not a fan of selfies. We continued through the dark, cool jungle, our headlamps reflecting off hundreds of glowing eyes, but we didn’t see any bigger animals.
When we got back, there as a mad rush for the showers, which was won by the girls, who fought us off with brooms and sticks. We retreated tactically for another hour, but when we finally had a shower, the water was so cold I could have sworn the shrieks coming from the cubicles were from the girls!
And that leaves us to where I am now – lying in a hammock as the sounds of a waking jungle wash over the camp, bathed in darkness and cloaked with shadows, the bright diamond stars shining through the trees. The temperature’s cool, the mosquitos are nowhere to be seen, and the entire galaxy is swirling above my head…
I’m going to head off to sleep now, until the howler monkeys wake me up or a jaguar invades camp. That’s the jungle – that’s Chaa Creek! Where there’s no safe haven from nature – where you just have to accept the wild side…