Sunday, December 4, 2011

From the lake, from the hills, from the sky...

I originally wrote this in May of 2009, and posted it over on my personal blog (which  is private for now, as I wrestle with losing the last shreds of my online anonymity). I'm re-posting it here, because I am proud of it, because it is true, and because, every time I have a success as a teacher,  it makes me reflect on the things that MADE me this teacher.  There is no underestimating the impact of 12 summers of camp life, and the family I found there. Because of camp, I am This Person, This Woman, This Teacher... And I am so very very grateful.

Because of Camp:

  1. My class sings Grace before lunch.
  2. and that grace thanks "the earth" instead of "The Lord."
  3. I know how to start a diesel truck.
  4. I have watched animals being born.
  5. I always know a song when one is called for
  6. and I'm not afraid to sing in public, as long as I have children singing backup.
  7. The stars at night are the most magical sight in the world.
  8. The people who know me best live 2500 km away
  9. so I know what it means to have friendships that are immune to time and distance
  10. and I know that the word family can refer to people you CHOOSE.
  11. The things I am most proud of in my life are not things at all, but young adults, scattered all over the world, doing amazing and inspirational things with their lives.
  12. I say "ten-four" at the end of phone conversations.
  13. I refer to the first day of school as "Opening Day"
  14. And to the teacher-prep time before it as "Staff Week."
  15. I actually think it is my job to clean up messes that I find, even if I didn't make them,
  16. Which means that every time there's puke on the floor of the girls' bathroom, I am the one getting the mop.
  17. I refuse to allow my students to say the words "you can't play with us."
  18. I feel a moral obligation to take children outside as often as weather permits.
  19. I organized a "puddle play" day, where my students were allowed and encouraged to play in the muck that covered our playground.
  20. I believe in teaching children actual skills, so that they can proudly complete the sentence "I am good at..."
  21. I believe that being a good friend is a skill that can be taught.
  22. Whether it's a trip, a party, or a lesson, I plan the details in advance, but am always ready to punt.
  23. I truly appreciate when food is prepared for me by someone else, and served with a smile.
  24. I know that any task is bearable if you are doing it with someone you like, and who makes you laugh.
  25. And that sometimes, doing a nasty chore with a stranger is a good way to become friends.
  26. I don't tell my boss I have a problem. I tell her when I have solved a problem.
  27. I know that the things that are the most fun make the biggest messes.
  28. And if I was involved in the fun, I should be involved in the cleanup.
  29. I remind myself every day that the children are not an interruption of my job. They ARE my job.
  30. I know that chances are that someone higher up is working harder than me, just to ensure that I get a break, and my day goes smoothly.
  31. I know that there are parts of my boss's job that I know nothing about.
  32. I do not underestimate the the threat posed by bored children.
  33. My dog of choice was a chihuahua,
  34. and I know how to remove ticks from his fur without him even noticing.
  35. John Denver makes me cry.
  36. I know that "the boom" is not a loud noise, a gris-gris is not a birdcall, and a girth extender is not... a marital aid.
  37. I know the secret meaning of "The ranch in Taylorsville."
  38. my best stories start with "Let's recap."
  39. I can sell ice to Eskimos!
  40. I get misty when someone calls me "Babe."
  41. It is extremely difficult for me to date someone if I haven't seen his resume and checked his references.
  42. I am far less likely to be a helicopter parent.
  43. I have very high standards of supervision when it comes to young children,
  44. And even higher ones when it comes to teenagers.
  45. I know that the best cure for burnout is sometimes to work harder.
  46. It takes me less than 3 minutes to fall asleep at 1:00 in the afternoon.
  47. I carry a clipboard anytime I want to exude authority.
  48. I find the humour, even in the darkest, most frustrating and painful moments of working with children.
  49. I have been given the very best gift by the very best of friends: the opportunity to love and be loved by their children.
  50. I have friendships that leave me weak with gratitude and admiration and joy, the kind of friendships that people write books about. You know who you are. I love you.

If you are someone who makes charity donations during the holiday season, please consider donating to the Coppercreek Camp Memorial Scholarship fund, which helps provide children with an amazing and magical summer camp experience.


  1. Love this! :) You had me at... point 2.

  2. I can definitely relate to some of these. My parents were teachers and in their "off" time in the summer, they ran a summer camp. I grew up at that camp- from fourth grade through college, every summer. I sometimes say that I still go there in my dreams. When I fall asleep I can still hear the way the wind whispered through the pine trees when I sat in a particular area of camp. To me, Disney World is not the happiest place on earth, Bates Creek Camp is! I'd totally agree that campers make great teachers!