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Without a doubt the thing that made camp most memorable were the incredible counselors with whom I worked. Some people I have some really good stories about, others I just generally enjoyed being around, but here’s a little something about ’em all. If you’re little story is shorter than someone else’s, and you’re bothered by this, then grow up. šŸ™‚

Ryan: “Good times” was not only his obsessively favorite thing to say, it was also what he created for everyone around him. When I wanted to start the “creative climb” activity, it was his loud, uninhibited enthusiasm that made it a success. It’s not like other enthusiastic people that I know. Most enthusiastic people are excited by themselves and don’t have the attention span to wonder what other people are thinking. But his enthusiasm pulls you in. It’s like a thunderstorm that picks you up, spins you around, drops you cheerfully and then kindly asks you why you’re on the ground. When you respond, “That was a blast!” he says, inevitably “Good times, good times.” He was also very kind, being one of only a couple people that cared for me in my sickness. His patriotism and the sincerity with which he believes that it is our duty to help others when we’re able is inspiring to me. My pride, awe, and respect of him is like a kitten to a lion. We had an awesome time staying at his house one weekend and getting ourselves injured on his trampoline while he cooked us Ramen noodles and bought us donuts.

Tyler (big): Tyler is the most energetic person I’ve ever been this close to. A lot of times people with his kind of energy can’t slow down and be serious when the time is right, and so they usually end up freaking me out. Not so with Tyler. I’ll never forget in about week two when I didn’t quite know him but was shocked by his energy, then he came up to me and asked me how I was doing and if I liked camp so far. I was impressed. Tyler is one of those people that whenever I’m around him I’m laughing at something he said. If he says something funny, that’s why; and if he didn’t say anything funny, I’m stilling laughing at the way he said it. That’s why at camp I secretly wanted to hang out with him all the time. He’s also the only at camp who seemed to have really, really good taste, because he knew about The State, “Wet, Hot, American Summer,” and could recite lines from Homestar Runner with the best of ’em. I think that without Tyler at Camp Jackson the atmosphere would be drastically different–it would suffer, really. He was responsible for a majority of the spontaneous, chaotic, creative fun that the camp had as a whole…without him in the mess hall, our meals would have just been meals. Of all the things I’m looking forward to next year, I’m looking forward to working with Tyler again most, so I sincerely hope he returns.

Kandi: Kandi had some major sass, and whereas some people can be annoyed by that, I merely thought it was hilarious. No joke: hearing her obsess over some little thing with the bowls or kool-aid put a grin on my face. I’m curious to see how she handles week 7–I’m not at camp week 7 but the rumor is that she isn’t working in the kitchen but rather with a cabin of kids. Kandi made a really awesome guacamole. She was also, along with Emily, one of the people at camp who was constantly trying to hug me, and she especially liked to try to hug people when she was sopping wet after a water fight or covered in some random food substance like peach-syrup and garlic powder.

Emily: Even though I told Emily very early on that her poking, hugging, grabbing, smooching, tickling, brushing against, playing with hair, massaging, cuddling, and poking poking poking poking poking poking ….. well, even though I told her early on that all that kind of stuff bothered me, she continued to do it throughout the entire summer. I just suspect she was brought up that way or something and knows few other ways to show affection. Because of this I usually didn’t stop her unless I was in a grumpy mood. She knows more about Harry Potter than I do, but is not nearly as patient about her knowledge as I am. When she finished the book a couple days before me she was just going to explode because she couldn’t tell me what happened. Really, she’s not a very patient person at all; over-eager, she is. I think she consciously made her laugh sound like a giggling elementary school girl, which is interesting. She’s very lighthearted, giggly, and almost always cheerful except when a horse is giving her a hard time. She got knocked off a horse and was still smiling the whole day. ‘Tis a good person who is capable of that. In the horse corral she was very fond of saying, “(Horse’s name) is a good horse.” A lot of horse people said that, come to think of it. Except Anna–she was always, “(Horse’s name) is a piece of shit, I want to kick his/her ass.” But I digress; on to the next person….

Tyler (little): During week one I worked with Tyler with the littlest boys, aged 7-9. Gratefully, I was switched to older boys the remainder of the summer, but poor Tyler worked not a week at camp where he wasn’t responsible for those Y’s Men. For this it goes without saying he must posess patience, courage, an ability to find the good in difficult situations, and more. That week I worked with him we built up a sort of camaraderie like the characters in Saving Private Ryan: soldiers banding together in an unforgiving battle waged on their very lives. I exaggerate, but seriously, he’s one of the kids that it shocked me that he was only 17–he was so mature and responsible.

Max Clark: Max is a machine. When we went on our weekly camp outs, I would always try to pack as lightly as I could since we had to hike all our stuff to the campsite. Particularly when we’re hiking, say, 3 1/2 hours away to Outpost. But Max, on the other hand…well, I don’t know if he purposely made his bag as outrageously heavy as he could, but regardless, it always ended up that way. I could never complain about a heavy pack when he was there, and I could never believe that he didn’t complain, either. His packs seemed to weigh like he was hiding children in them. “Let’s see…is everyone here? 11…12…hmm…Hey–where’s little Johnnie?” “Oh, he got tired so Max stuffed him in a side pocket of his backpack.” Max was also incredibly mature; I felt at times like he was much older than me.

Anna (Horsie Girl): My absolute favorite part of Anna is as follows. We have this little thing at dinner. When a table finishes off their gallon of milk, they stand up and make this announcement: “Attention everybody, we killed our cow. Help us give it its last moo.” At this point the whole mess hall says, “Mooooo” and then the announcers are supposed to do everything they can to destroy the gallon of milk–essentially “killing the cow.” So they stab the empty milk jug with forks, jump on it, bludgeon it with fireplace tools, etc. Now, here’s where Anna fits in. For some reason, I know not why, she would go absolutely crazy when they were destroying the milk jug. “KILL THAT COW–DOOOOO IIIITTTT! STAB IT, STAB IT, STAB IT–” and though she kept it camp appropriate I knew she wanted desperately to swear–“MURDER THAT PIECE OF SHIT–FUCKING DESTROY IT!!!!!!” Needless to say, she was one of my best friends at camp. She worked with the horses and I’m happy to report she often brought that same untamed fury to keeping them under control–whenever a horse tried to kick her, she’d kick right back. She was funny, had a cute Wisconsin accent that you weren’t allowed to make fun of, and was very flirtatious and racy. Another thing I like about her is how unique her anger is–when she’s completely pissed off about something she acts like she’s putting on a slapstick comedy show for people around her, like she really wants us to make light of the situation with her. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of fun to be around.

Tina: Tina was one of my favorite people at camp, but one whom I unfortunately got to spend relatively little time with. For starters, I was jealous of all the teen center people, because it seemed like they were constantly having more fun than I was (even though I was having a blast) and they were all the older counselors more my age, so that made me wish I was with them. Anyhow, Tina was just unbelievably sweet and innocent and kind. I can’t really describe her without making her sound like a little angel. She had a wonderful smile which she wore almost always, removing it only when people weren’t being nice or responsible. Although she did get a lot of credit for being so nice and responsible and admirable, I think even still she was one of the most underrated counselors at camp. She was very selfless, the kind of person who you’d be talking about something mundane and she would stop mid-sentence and say, “Oh, we forgot to check on so-and-so and make sure they doing all right!”–as if the entire time she’d been thinking, “Isn’t there something sweet I could be doing now?”

Mary: Mary is another person I wish I could’ve spent more time with. She worked with the horses the whole summer and so I only saw her when I was down by the corral or during meals and such. She was a quiet one, at least when there was big groups of people around like at the mess hall or during staff meetings; but I could tell that I was missing out–that if I had spent time with just her or maybe a small group of people that she would be hilarious, sweet, and a lot of fun to be around. I figured this because even the little time I spent with her I already felt she had these qualities.

Kyle (big): My favorite day with Kyle was this one time where I was in a Really Grumpy Mood. I hadn’t had enough time off or enough time away from kids and everything was annoying me. I was rock-climbing with Gem and Kyle. Well, see, Kyle had a funny way of dealing with kids that typically involved yelling and blaming (“Well, if you’d been paying attention when we told you how to do it…”). It was perfect for the grumpy mood I was in and I remember laughing out loud as he berated the children. Anyway, just thought I’d share that.

Gem: First of all, what a cool freakin’ name. I hardly ever called her Gemma because I liked the nickname Gem so much. And if that’s not enough I just found out her last name was “Jell” making it, unbelievably, somehow even cooler. Gem was awesome, and at times, too good. You see, for some reason I actually cared about occasionally getting “Cabin of the Day” awards, and, every single day me–and every other cabin–had to compete with, typically, Gem, Natalie, and Kalan (by the way, I had to go to the camp jackson website to find out how to correctly spell Kalan’s name). Anyway, Gem was always having cooler cabins than me, try as I might. I got to work in Outdoor Sports with Gem and we enjoyed our mutual boredom of teaching Camping Skills–until I ditched her and Camping Skills to drive the Chase Bus full of canoers (I could do that because I had an American driver’s license). Gem was one of my favorite people to go to Pueblo with. B-Street bash was a lot of fun. If I remember correctly, she helped me fill out a computerized job application for Edd to work at Wal-Mart (“I think it’s okay to have a few drinks before coming in to work — ‘Strongly Agree'”). And, on my last night in Colorado we all went to an 18+ rock-a-billy bar (which is hilarious by itself!) Gem and I played pool for hours, and bought each other gin and sprites, except once I had to ditch her to dance to “I Got Friends in Low Places” with the others. Come to think of it, I’m unsure why I kept ditching her, considering how great she was. One of my favorite people at camp.

Nathalie: Nathalie was one of those incredible people at camp whom I had a lot of fun hanging out with, working alongside, and hanging out with at the hot tub at her house. Really, she only had one flaw–the same flaw as Gem, actually: they had boyfriends back at home. LAME! Anyway, Natalie’s mom made the best 7-layer dip I have ever had. There was some secret ingredient in it…I think it was pureed black beans, cream cheese, secret hobo spices, or some ancient tribal magic, I don’t remember. She also has a very cute dog. Nathalie has the added advantage of an extra “h” in her name, and I’m pretty sure the “h” stands for “HAWESOME.” Or possibly “Hobo spices.” Anywho, she wins the “smile” award and the “sweet and innocent” award and, as I mentioned earlier, the “Always beating Andy’s cabins for Cabin of the Day Awards” award. For some reason, when I think of Nathalie, the song “Herman The Worm” comes along with her. She was the first person I heard sing that song.

Kalan: Considering how much I liked Kalan, she really ought to forgive the fact that I had to look on CampJackson.com to see how to spell her name. It’s harder than other names! There’s at least 5 quite reasonable ways to spell it: Kalan, Kaylin, Kaylan, Kalin, Kalynn…and I didn’t even count Kailynne or Kweljijddsoijfdn. Anyway, all my favorite times with Kalan were when the two of us were canoeing instructors down at the lake. All the kids were out in their canoes, and Kalan would just laugh at me while I looked for crawdads, skipped stones, tried to float on the lake in the trailer’s spare tire, etc. And she laughed when I said to the kids, “Go on out and canoe your thang” (get it?). You see, if Kalan hadn’t been there and been so responsible I certainly would have picked up the slack and did all the work necessary to do, but because she was there I just wandered around the shore acting like an ADHD 13 year old. The first four weeks of camp I went out canoeing with the kids and splashed them from a distance where they couldn’t quite splash me back (think about that–it’s hilarious). Anyway, I had a lot of fun with Kalan; I always subtly tried to make her happy because a huge, genuine smile out of her could light up a room, or at least my day.

Jess: It’s interesting how I managed to have such different and varied relationships with different people. Like I said, with Kalan, I was like a cat on too much ‘nip. On the other hand, the friendship that developed between Jess and I was very “grown up.” I can only imagine I was drawn into my more mature self by the maturity within her. Anyhow, she was awesome. Whenever I was sick of the 10 year olds, I’d seek out Jess and make lighthearted, sarcastic jokes about things. With Jess, Ryan, Tyler, and Tina hanging out in the teen center I was, as I’ve mentioned now repeatedly, very jealous. Jess (and Tina, btw) were a couple of the only other people there that actually liked and desired quality, healthy food. Well, it’s strange, I can’t really think of any remarkable stories or things that really stick out with Jess. But, instead, there is a very strong sense I have when I think of her. Of respect–a sort of barely spoken but undeniable camaraderie–of comfort, of appreciation, and an enjoyment of her company that is difficult to describe, yet certain. One of my favorite people at camp.

Kat: My friendship with Kat was one of the more uniquely enjoyable friendships I’ve ever had. You see, we mutually recognized early on that in a few small ways we were different. But what happened was, we had one thing in common that made all the difference in the world: we were such freakin’ nice people. I think early on we BOTH thought (mildly, as people think when they first meet) “To ensure that we get along, I’m going to be extra nice to this person!” Several of the nicest things anyone at camp said to me came out of Kat’s mouth and, so it goes with us humans, I developed such an appreciation and modesty around her that by the end of camp I couldn’t be around her without smiling. On other notes, Kat just melts at the sight of kids acting cute (and they’re always acting cute to her) and she’s a total pro when it comes to backing up a big trailer full of canoes right next to the lake, and she’s extraordinarily thoughtful and caring.

Travis: I had the pleasure of being co-counselor with Travis for several weeks. I liked him more and more with each passing great experience we shared. His backpacks are always extra heavy, he’s the camp’s shooting sports pro, and I’m jealous that one weekend he got up when I was still sleeping in and shot a few arrows at targets while on horseback. He’s very agreeable and always up for a good time, not at all lazy or content with being bored or unhappy without good reason, one trait that my favorite people always posess. He appreciated spontaneity and every Thursday night at the dance you could rely on him wearing a crazy costume: a mechanic’s overalls, some uber-tight bicycling spandex, or his famous homemade medieval knight’s costume. He taught me that the reason people always mount horses on the horse’s left side was that, back in medieval times, it allowed people to get on the horse without their sword getting in the way. Travis’ sleep is like a rock in that he is hard as heck to wake up, and would sleep ’till lunch if you didn’t. But his sleep is not like a rock in that rocks don’t tend to talk nearly as much as he does in his sleep. Oh, and, of course, he’s obsessed with dragons. It’s incredible to meet him and then discover, weeks later, that he has a huge dragon tattoo on his back; you think, at first, “How unexpected!” but then you immediately realize it actually fits him perfectly.

Dana: I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with Dana for some reason, but I knew for a fact she was really cool. And by that I don’t just mean the everyday cool that you hear all the time, (cool shirt, man; that’s a cool-lookin’ algebraic equation, check out that cool janitor, etc.) but rather a true definition of the word. If I were writing a high school paper on her, I might start it like this: Dictionary.com defines cool as such: “Marked by calm self-control,” and this is exactly how Dana acts. Calm, “cool”-lected, mature, not easily annoyed, able to take care of herself, stuff like that. Her favorite camp song was one of my favorite camp songs as well, “go bananas, go go bananas,” I even got her a sign at Wal-Mart special thanks to a generous grocery manager at Pueblo Wal-Mart. The sign was advertising the bananas at Wal-Mart and it said, sure enough, “Go Bananas!” Dana had really gorgeous long, strawberry blonde hair – long, like down to her belly button, and then she got it cut short and had really gorgeous short strawberry blonde hair.

Megan: A funny thing happened in mid-summer. It was announced that a certain week would be Megan’s last week. Unexpectedly, the thought shocked me, and I tried to speed up becoming better friends with this wonderful person while I still could. Megan was hilarious and quirky. I loved it when she did skits, like one campfire she was in line for the “King Diddy” skit and was my favorite part of that rendition. She was always smiling and very kind. She had a wonderfully expressive way of talking and using super cute facial expressions when she said anything. Totally fun to be around because she was totally always having fun.

Edd: Ah, Edd. Where do I begin? During staff week we had a devotional where each staff member was asked, “What is one of your highest values?” After many good answers, Edd offered, in so many words, happiness and enjoyment of life. I knew at once that I would like him, and that he would be a great assistant director. After all, his answer had a lot in common with the answer I gave when it was my turn. The few times I got to hang out with just Edd were always a blast. For instance, my “mid-summer” performance review (which was actually done so late it was a week before I had to leave). We kept doing the performance review thing and then we’d get off talking on this tangent for a long time and then remember, finally, that there was stuff we were supposed to be doing. I give a lot of credit to Edd because, as assistant director, naturally all the kids and, yes, all the counselors went out of their way to center their jokes and pranks around him. But to illustrate how admirably he handled this, I’ll tell you about one such prank. My cabin and another one night were on a pillow-fight rampage and we stopped at every cabin at camp and attacked them. Then, we sought out Edd. Finding him in the mess hall, Travis attempted to lure him outside where about 20 pillow-clad children waited to unleash their feathery wrath. Edd, being used to set ups like these, figured it out at the last minute and locked the screen door between himself and his attackers. I thought the jihad was lost, until he voluntarily threw the door open and ran, screaming into the throng, stealing pillows and fighting back. As a commanding officer of the child army, I was thrilled to see such a worthy opponent. But seriously, I genuinely appreciated his acute sense of fun and his eagerness to encourage it. He was soo much fun to be around that I am certain the personality of Camp Jackson as a whole would suffer in his absence. I hope he comes back next year, but I also want to encourage him in whatever future ventures he may need to begin.

Chris: I was confused when Chris showed up because no one ever talked about it. No one ever said, “Oh, and next week Chris is here!” Instead, there was just this strange British man there one day, as if he was going to a cricket match in London and got really, really, terribly lost. But the kid’s got guts because, after all, he worked with Y’s Men most of the summer. I admire a man who takes on that job, not least because, in a way, him doing it means I’ll less likely have to myself. When I think of Chris, for some reason the thing that comes to mind is the multiple failed attempts at a “Coldplay Party” that he and Anna tried to organize, and the eventual, anticlimactic success when they finally had it. But from all angles, a great guy who seems always to be smiling; and, well, that’s maybe the best thing a person can do, so I guess that means he’s the best person that has ever existed. I’m sure if you check the logic, you’ll see it’s truth.

Charles: My absolute favorite thing about Charles (and I laughed honestly out loud when I remembered it) happened at an Individual Campfire one night. We were making those things where you dip a piece of bread into butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and then you cook it over the campfire. I forget what they’re called so I’ll call ’em gortblazzers. So the pieces of bread for our gortblazzers – oh, no wait, I just remembered. They’re called “Brown Bears.” Right. So the pieces of bread for our brown bears were bits of hot-dog buns. Well, when you get a hot-dog bun wet with butter, it really does not want to stay securely on a stick while you roast it over a campfire (or, in this case, a stove – yay fire ban!!). My theory is that we didn’t realize that the combination of butter, cinnamon, and sugar somehow manage to produce sentience in pieces of cheap bread. So, naturally, the bread was trying to escape for its own self-preservation. Can you blame it? Only no matter how much stuff you put on the bread, it’s still not a very smart creature, so in its attempt to escape it just falls right into the fire and its new, short life has already come to a painful end. Anyway, I learned the trick to keep ’em on which is to angle the stick upwards, but Charles–remember we were talking about Charles. Haha – Charles did not learn the trick to keeping them on. After he lost his THIRD Brown Bear in the fire, he was getting quite angry. He very, very carefully put the last piece of bread on. He very, very carefully placed it over the fire. It fell in. And, this is why I laugh, because, in front of about 30 pre-adolescent kids he said, quite loudly, “FUCK!!!” Please don’t judge him for this; the truth is I don’t think the kids heard it, and he doesn’t even believe he actually said it. ANYWAY, I had a blast with Charles my last week even though I got DEmoted to Sinawik (sorry Katherine!) especially when we went for pack-out at Indian Circle and he kept making fun of the rain shelter I creatively, yet poorly, constructed.

Paulette: Ah, Paulette. As a self-proclaimed “grown-up” I didn’t like the idea of handing off my shorts that needed mending to someone else to do for me. But she assured me that I was just being arrogant and she’d take care of it. I humbly deferred, and it turned out to be karma because later when she had a flat tire I helped her change it. I always looked forward to taking my kids to the ropes course because I felt so comfortable and appreciated around the immensely mature Miss Paulette. And she should be mature, right?, because she’s gotta be at least, like, 30 years old. I enjoyed having carefree conversations with her about this and that while she tried desperately to catch the thunderstorm of children falling out of trees and swinging ropes. She kept telling me to keep an eye on them, but really it was a losing battle.

Laura: There might be a lot of similarities between my quip about Laura, and my quip about Russian Max. They are each other’s daemons, so they tell me. Some people criticized the two of them for spending too much time together, but I didn’t think they were any bit detrimental to camp experience for myself or the kiddies. If I had someone at camp whom I was as close to as those two were, you can bet I’d’ve spent the same amount of time with them. Anyhow, Laura. Laura is like a rollercoaster ride. One minute you talk to her and she’s SUPER SUPER EXCITED about drawing or a book or mexican food, then later she’ll be soo soo sad about something with Max or…well, basically something with Max. They’re always getting sad about each other, which, to me, is sad. My favorite thing about exclusively Laura is the awesome way she talks! As I get older I have begun to care less and less about sounding “informal.” See, a few years ago, I wouldn’t talk like I had a really big vocabulary, even though I did, because I thought people would think it was weird. Nowadays, I embrace that weirdness. I don’t mind at all having normal conversations with people where I throw out words like “lascivious,” “precocious,” or “cromulent.” When what to my wandering ears did I hear? Laura talks just like this! You might even say she’s precocious (look it up since you don’t know what it means! Sucka!) She’s a really good drawer, man! I always have a great respect for people with the gift of art, because it is a gift I do not have.

Russian Max: Maximus isn’t quite as much of a roller coaster ride as Laura–at least in front of me. My favorite part about Max is how open minded he is to new stuff. Your average person doesn’t care so much about the bands you listen to, the books you like, and movies you love–but when I told Max my favorite things he seemed genuinely excited to try ’em out! He liked this crazy band that I love called Mr. Bungle–no one likes them as fast as he did. I think we must just have similar tastes. Because I read a book he (and Laura) recommended to me and MY GOSH! IT’S AWESOME! I’m on the last book in the trilogy! I can’t wait to find out what happens! I’ve nearly cried a few times during this book it’s so good. Anyway, my favorite part about BOTH Max and Laura is the time they painted my face SOO COOL. I tried to take a shower without getting my face wet because I wanted to keep it. Then I didn’t wash it off when I went to sleep hoping it would still be there in the morning (some of it was). I took, like, 10 pictures of myself from different angles with that face paint šŸ™‚ And I had the best Mexican food I’ve EVER had in the awesome company of Maximus. I was so happy during that meal, I couldn’t stop giggling! When I’m extraordinarily contended and pleased I giggle like crazy.

My favorite Camp Songs (not in order):
“We are the music masters, we come from Fatherland/ICH VON SHPE-IL”
“Go Bananas, go, go bananas”
“Cold Spaghetti, I like cold spaghetti”
“Amazing Grace”
“The Camp Jackson National Anthem”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“I’ve got Friends in Low Places” haha…
and of course “YEAAAH TOAST!”

My Least Favorite Camp Songs (in order)(but only because we sang them WAY too much):
“Peace Like a River”
That other slow song we always sang, I can’t remember it now

My Favorite Weekend:
The B-Street Bash! And Ryan’s house for a slumber party!

My favorite campers:
Ian, Ryan, that Little Girl who was a Kick-Ass Climber, and That One that Got in Trouble For Mooning the Girl’s Cabin (haha)
My favorite part of this writing I just made:
When I said the extra “h” in Nathalie stood for “Hawesome!” hahhahaha

Hope to see as many of you next summer as I can! Come back, you know there’s nothing cooler/more fun for you to do!!



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