Friday – Sustainable Tourism
We all woke up with a buzz of energy today, very probably from the huge amount of food we’ve been eating and maybe slightly to do with the fact today is water party day, and song presentation day.
Yeah, just slightly.
Still, we didn’t go straight into the water. We started the day with a few camp songs, as always, and then moved onto a delicious breakfast which charged us up for the morning, then the kids went out and played Dodgeball while I worked on the Howlers’ song for this evening… we picked Radioactive and I built up the lyrics from there, and, to be honest, they actually came up looking pretty damn fine, if I do say so myself.
After Dodgeball (and listening to Radioactive fifty times) we got some rocks and painted them. I got a nice shark-shaped stone and so painted it deep blue and promptly forgot about it for six hours, but there was some real dedication around. We got minions, countless emojis, a few flags, and quite a few fish and parrots.
Then, the campers went ahead to the lodge and listened to a long presentation by Chaa Creek’s founder herself, Ms. Lucy Flemming. I wasn’t there – I was slaving away filling around nine hundred water balloons – but afterward, everyone told me that they were quite impressed by how she made two hours of sitting down interesting. I myself was quite surprised no one fell asleep. So, props to Ms. Lucy.
By the end of the presentation it was lunchtime, so we headed down to the dining hall, which was jam-packed. Lunch was delicious. You know when they deep fry meat and it get a crusty shell around it? I forgot what it’s called – fried something – but I can tell you, Chaa Creek’s chefs know how to do it, with chicken, fish and prawns anyway. I ate a ton.
And then we went back to camp and had our pool party.
It was pretty damn good, even if it didn’t rain. The tarps on the ground were slick and slippery and we were sliding all over the place, and even if I did belly-flop into solid dirt, it’s worth it. I think.
After three hours of pure water and mud – and quite a few games – we all went to the showers and bathed, then got ready for the song competition.
I’ll get it out of the way – no, we didn’t win. But as far as I’m concerned, I handed them a spade, and instead of batting their opponents in the head with it, they dug a hole and jumped in.
I mean, they didn’t do badly, but they were so out of the beat they were in a different country.
Still, there were some surprisingly good songs going about, especially the Jaguar’s song. I can’t remember the beat, but it was really, really good, and pretty well choreographed too.
And then, after eating a lot of sweets, we were off to bed, tired but content, like sacks of warm, boneless meat on mattresses.
Oh, and, yeah, parents?
There’s a Jaguar going around. Just so you know.
Saturday – Belizean WIldlife
It’s a strange day, Saturday. The last full day of Chaa Creek. You want to grab it all, squeeze every last precious drop from it, but its giving you so much that you can’t, and you come away with loads of amazing memories yet with the idea that you have been cheated, somehow, that this happened when you weren’t there or that that happened the minute you left. Chaa Creek is an amazing, wonderful place, but that’s t problem – it’s so amazing that you just feel sad, angry when you leave because you never want to.
But I digress.
We woke up early. It was a pretty nice day, with the sun shining all over the place and cool air drifting through the trees and rustling leaves pleasantly, and really peaceful somehow. We jumped straight into it, though, starting the day with loud songs that broke the calm and probably sent every bird in Cayo into the air. Then we had an amazing breakfast and moved straight to our favourite games – Dodgeball, John Wayne – and then to Arts and Crafts, where we made paper bags from newspapers to stash all our goodies in.
Then, when we were nice and fresh, we went to the lodge and had a presentation by the Belize Zoo! It was pretty cool, because they brought Falcons and cool birds, and the kids were pretty impressed with them, let me tell you. It’s all they talked about during our last lunch at the lodge.
Then – pool! It was amazing, and by this, I mean chaotic and completely messy and watery – no, really? – and full of thrashing bodies. We had a chicken fight, and I’m happy to say that we – by Gustavo and I – came out the victors. It was pretty underhand, though – I was up against, Jared, who’s six foot six inches, so instead of going head on I just swooped down, grabbed his feet and sent them into the water. I know, completely against the rules, but who cares? It’ summer camp – and, what’s more, the last day of summer camp.
And then It was time for the treasure hunt.
I’m happy to say my team – well, the team I was favouring – won, but it was REALLY close, let me tell you. As in a two-second difference close. Yeah. It was really fast-paced and fun, and afterwards, everyone had a shower to prepare for the skits later.
They were all very good, and I’m not just saying that. And, actually, I was surprised by how well ours (the howlers) went down. We won! Which is, fabulous, because now I’m going to have to go out half naked in front of parents tomorrow and act like a caveman. Oh, the joy.
After dinner – barbequed chicken with tortillas and beans, washed down with Coke(a-Cola), we had one last skit – the councilor’s – and let me tell you, it was great. I was chosen to be the main bad guy solely because I have a British accent, but it was a great role. I was the big evil doctor who personified world dangers like air pollution and garbage, and the eco wonder twins had to save the world from me.
It was glorious, well, most of it. I was supposed to turn into a dragon halfway through, but my balloon tail came off, so I sort of wondered around with flashing balloons in my arms throwing glow-sticks at everyone. Talk about on a budget.
Then we partook in the secret party that only the Brotherhood of ex-Chaa Creek campers knows about, and then drifted off to sleep.
At, like, two in the morning.
Sunday – Cleanup and Farewell
Yep, this is it. The last blog, the day when it all comes crashing down around our ears and we go back home, thinking that it’s all a dream, hoping we’ll suddenly wake up and it’ll just be Wednesday and we’ll still have days left.
But it’s not, and we don’t.
We woke up, packed our clothes, sort of wandered around like zombies, cleaning the camp, feeling like we were in another dimension.
The last day.
We had a brilliant breakfast, so I’ll start with that. It was sausages and eggs and veggies, and we ate it all, every last one of us.
Then we all started getting ready to leave, which is hard when all you want to do is stay.
It’s funny – we all arrived strangers, well pretty much all of us. But through just eight days, well, seven and a half – we’d gotten to know each other like family. There are some kids I’m just going to be sad to see go, simple as that. Yes, we might send emails, yes, we might friend each other on Facebook, but we’ll never be drawn together like we were at Chaa Creek. Never. There, we were family – some we liked, some we didn’t – but a family nevertheless, people you would do anything for. Out here in the big wide world, we are just friends, and just friends after Chaa Creek is unbearable.
That’s what Chaa Creek is – a family, simple as that. And a pretty darn cool one at that. I think I speak for everyone when I say that no matter how tired I was, how bruised, how cut up and drowned, I would have happily stayed there for a few more weeks. Where’s Groundhog day when you need it, huh?
Well, then the parents arrived and Chaa Creek Summer camp was over.
Not officially, of course. We presented our songs and skits, made a few speeches, talked about this and that. But the minute the parents arrived, the spirit of camp died. We weren’t Chaa Creek campers anymore. We were kids going home.
And we hated it.
Nothing great lasts forever.
But, I would like to think that we have changed lives in eight days. I know my life was different the minute I left Chaa Creek at age eight, and it has changed every time I’ve gone back. So, it might not last.
But we will, so, campers, parents, everyone who reads this, spread the word.
In eleven months, we will be waiting.