Week 3: Staff Training (Part 2)

June 29, 2008

This week has been really busy and more program orientated. The week began with meeting the CIT’s (Counselors in Training) and getting to know some of them that we will be working with. They were also used to test some of the evening programs that we had designed earlier in the day before we use them with them the kids that will be arriving on Sunday.

On Monday we were divided up into 3 teams, given a quick map reading lesson and then dropped off on the Connecticut border, having to hike back to camp along the same 8 mile route that we will be taking the outdoor skills groups over 3 days. The aim was to familiarise us with the route, know where the campsites were and not to get lost and of course beat the other teams, however we did lose our way once or twice but we were quickly back on trail knowing where we went wrong. Towards the end of the race, pretty much as soon as we got back on campus and met with one of the other teams the heavens opened which did not dent our spirits and made the sprint for the finish much more fun and the ice cream from Marelby seem so much nicer.

The teams before the outdoor skills hike

Without much of a rest, myself and the 3 other counselors teaching Bay Mania left for Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay at 5.30am on Tuesday morning. We arrived in Bristol early for the 8am ferry, which gave me time to explore a town which is very geared up for the 4th of July celebrations and to find the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, because of course ‘America runs on Dunkin’. On the ferry over we met the staff from the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve who we will be working with. Once on the island we quickly got changed and headed to the beach on the West of the island to run through the activities that we would be doing with the kids. This involved, collecting crabs, analysing things caught from traps set out in different habitats and going snorkelling into the suprising warm Atlantic. We then went to the T dock on the south of the island (the research reserve is a former Navy base) to snorkel again but it began to thunder so we quickly pulled in the nets and got dry. After lunch we stayed inside during an intense thunderstorm doing fish printing onto t-shirts and getting a tour of the lab. During a final drive around the island before the ferry home the lightning picked up and we saw a few forks touch down not to far from our van, but luckily the storm passed before the ferry set sail back to Bristol.

One of the hundreds of flags in Bristol

Once back at camp we realised that we weren’t the only only affected by the storm, our house was actually struck with lightning and the basement of the EEC flooded but everybody is ok and no serious damage was done. Throughout the night the weather improved and by the morning it was a lovely day, perfect for our staff trip to the beach for which we had one of the sterotypical American yellow school buses take us over to East beach. Once there we used the nets to catch fish and look at them and then in the afternoon we got to sunbathe and play in the sea which led to lots of sunburn! In the evening we ran through a few more lessons and had a talk about astronomy and the stars from the boss’ boss which was interesting to see.

Me running Baywatch style into the sea, Photo – Sam Whitehead

On Thursday we began by making decorations for the different themes we would have each week, I was making pirate flags and banners. We then got taught how to do all the outdoor skills we would need by the Teen X staff. In the afternoon Amy and I taught our Bay Mania lesson on the food web before concluding our training with a little ceremony. Friday was the last official day and consisted mainly of a review  of the things we had covered and a little test before we finished around 1pm. Once free a few of us took kayaks out around lake Eisenhower for a little explore before we went out for a meal and drinks at JC’s. Today we went to the beach again, but this time to Narragansett where we sunbathed and surfed on a busy Saturday. We saw a rescue by the lifeguards of two girls who had refused our help earlier who couldn’t swim back to the shore. It was a nice day and a welcome rest before the first kids arrive tomorrow…

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