Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Camp. What We Do and Why.

About a week ago camp officially ended. Our cabin was cleaned out, my car was packed, and goodbyes were said. I flew from camp down here to Atlanta where I've been hiding out and catching up on sleep at my parent's house ever since. It was the perfect opportunity to come home for a visit with my friends and family. But coming back to the real world is always a bit of adjustment. Getting used to cell phones, running errands and all the other day to day stuff is a bit of a shock. But the real shocker is always the questions people have about camp life. Foolishly, I assume that after working like this for the past 10 summers my friends and family would have some idea of how my summers are spent. I'm always amazed at how little people know about the camping world. It's just so natural and normal to me I assume it is to everyone else as well. 

The camp I work at is a regular, over night camp for kids. We have no religious affiliation, no sports focus or any other specialty. We're just a good ole fashioned fun sort of place -- the exact place you think of when you think of summer camp. We have plenty of counselors that are your typical college kids out to have the summer of their life, and they do. I spent two amazing summers as a counselor back in college and would gladly give my left arm to go back to those days.

These days camp is a little bit different for me. You see, someone has to manage and organize all those campers and counselors. That's where the management side of things comes into play. So while a lot of counselors grow up and move on to jobs that require them year round some of us grow up to become teachers, allowing us to keep coming back to camp. At this point we've outgrown the counselor job but there is still plenty of work to do at camp, even for us old farts. It's a win-win. We get to keep coming to camp and earning a little cash and camp retains some it's experienced counselors to help keep the place running smoothly.

Why do we give up normal life to work at camp after all these years? I don't know. Maybe because we love it, maybe because deep down we're a little crazy. Maybe because we love working with the kids and mentoring the counselors. I don't know. There are a million different reasons.

What I can tell you is that we are all just as close with our camp friends as we are with our real life friends. Sounds weird, but its a true story.

Much to everyone's shock, we're just normal people. With normal jobs and normal lives.

I promise that we all fix our hair everyday and wear normal clothes when we're at home and at work. It's just at camp these things aren't important. At camp the goofier and crazier you are, the better off you are.


So what do we do at camp? All kinds of thing. Jobs you wouldn't even think needed doing. Jobs that I would love to explain but I wouldn't be able to do it justice. I'd have to use camp lingo to sufficiently explain it and then you'd just get confused. Let's just say that we do a lot - from directing plays, to organizing sail boat races, writing cheers, inventing games, creating craft projects and making sure the lactose intolerant kids get a popsicle instead of ice cream. But most importantly, we make sure the campers are happy and the counselors are working well together. 

I get it. Camp isn't for everyone. I understand that not everyone wants to live in a cabin, regardless of how nice it is. Not everyone wants to eat camp food. Certainly not everyone wants to be surrounded by 400 campers and 200 counselors all the time. But once you look past those details you find that its a pretty amazing place. (Break out the crackers, it's about to get cheesy.) We're the kind of people that like to be outside, like to dance, like to get creative, like to work with kids and like to be active. Not one single person at that camp is capable of sitting still for more than 30 seconds. It's just not in our nature. It's pretty fantastic to be surrounded by adventurous, creative and fun people all summer. There is nothing better.

If it wasn't so awesome than how on Earth would I be able to get all these nice looking people to act like this...

Seriously, don't they look like fun? Don't worry, they are.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sea Bags. A New England Must.

Sea Bags! Holla! The greatest invention of all time. I love bags, always have. My mom calls me the bag lady -- like I'm homeless or something. Purses and shoes are fun, and I have plenty...but bags are where it's at. Tell me why I feel the need to own a bag in every shape, in every size and for every occasion. I don't know. It's a compulsion. 

Sea Bags originate in the great state of Maine where their shop sits in downtown Freeport, the outlet shoppers Mecca. 

Inside the shop you will find more glorious bags than one could ever possibly need. The colors are brilliant and the patterns are simple. I think I'll take one of each.

What makes Sea Bags so special are what they're made of -- recycled sails! I'm telling you, it's always the simple ideas. Why didn't I, the wife of a sailor, think to whip out my sewing machine and whip of one of these beauties? Well, fine. It's because I don't actually remember the details of how to use my sewing machine. But I could learn. I know I could.

Not only will Sea Bags sell you a bag but they'll even make one for you out of your own used sail. Wouldn't that be cool? It would solve all the problems of what to do with those unwanted, torn sails that are littering the basement. Three cheers for the sail exchange program!

If you opt for the pre-made bag and you're a bit of glamor girl, then you've come to the right spot. The metallic star tote was meant for you!

Or maybe you've always wanted to go on a whale watching tour and are feeling the whale tale...

Maybe you prefer to drop anchor and enjoy the sunset...

Perhaps you have a lucky number you'd like to sport...

Or maybe the classic stripe would compliment your J.Crew twin set...

But the birds are always a nice, subtle choice...

And what's more I Summer in Maine-ish than a traditional lobster claw?

I'm telling you, these are the greatest bags ever.

First of all, sails are pretty much indestructible. Seriously, they're designed to sail across the world so I think they can survive a little shopping.

Secondly, the stitching and structure is top notch as is the roping.

While I understand Sea Bags aren't in everyone's budget, the quality definitely backs up the price.

You can even get a smaller makeup bag if that's more your thing. 

If none of the bags are exactly what you're feeling, don't fret. Sea Bags kindly offers a design-your-own-bag option as well. That's what The Canadian did for me -- he's awesome like that. I have a fantastic duffle with a big blue star that I take everywhere. He even remembered to ask for navy rope straps because I was worried the white straps would get dingy. See? This is why I married him.

You'll know your Sea Bag is legit by the trademark stamp on the inside -- don't be fooled, they're are knock-offs out there. 

So, go ahead. Check them out. Support the Maine economy and look good while you're doing it. And be sure to check Sea Bags out on Facebook -- they give away a bag every week. But watch out, I'm going to win the giveaway one of these days. Competition is stiff. Get your game face on.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Camden and The Canadian's Dream Life.

If you're going to go to Maine there are a few key towns you'll need to visit. Top of the list: Camden. A small town sitting right on the coast about halfway up the state, Camden is a major sailing town. The stores are cute, the sea food is great and the boats will blow you away. If you're going to visit you definitely want to bust out the Sperry's, tie your sweater around your shoulders and brush up on your boat terminology. Around here a rope is not just a rope -- it is a main sheet or a haliyard or some other very expensive, important piece of a braided material that belongs on a sail boat. Calling it a rope is clearly an insult. As you can tell, sailing is not my gig but it is my husbands most favorite past time. 

Don't get me wrong, I like to look at the boats. They're pretty. They're colorful. They're interesting. But really, they're made of wood. And usually old. And they break all the time. Not to mention that they are powered by wind, which you are apparently supposed to be able to read, predict and "see." Whatever that means. See what I'm saying? It's not my gig. 

But The Canadian, he loves it. In fact, his dream is to not only own a boat but actually live on it...for like years

While we were wandering around Camden he would say things like, "See that 55 foot C&C? Wouldn't that be cool to live on and sail around the world?"

I like to respond with comments like, "Sure. I bet you and your friends will have a great time, honey."

Then, 30 minutes later he'll try again, "Look. That one has a full galley and a place where you can lay out on the deck."

Don't get me wrong, I love boats and I love the water and I like to consider myself an adventurous person but I just tend to also enjoy the modern conveniences of civilization. 

Plus, if I lived on a boat I would have to learn what all those flags mean. 

But if The Canadian wanted to live on a boat like this...well then maybe I would change my tune a bit.

Besides, where would the Maple Monster go? I don't think she's cut out for life at sea. There may be customs issues...I'm pretty sure she's wanted somewhere.

Now if he wanted to live in a cute house like this on the water with our boat parked right outside then I might be game. 

And if owning a boat means that we can have old buoys laying around to make cool swings out of then I'll consider that as well. 

So, okay. Maybe the whole boat thing is completely out of the question. Maybe we just need to compromise. Like making a vacation out of it. Really, isn't that what marriage is all about?


Towards the end of our day in Camden we were enjoying an adult beverage at a local establishment. As we were sitting on the deck we noticed a seagull hanging around the kitchen door. We decided that the seagull was definitely a regular and was quite possibly the smartest seagull in town if he had figured out to hang around right outside the kitchen. And being the only seagull hanging around we figured he must be some sort of pimp seagull that had established that railing as his territory. 

Anyway, curiosity got the best of me (and maybe the beer did too) so I wandered around to the kitchen to inquire.

Turns out that his name is BlaBla (because that is the sound be makes) and he sits there all night, every night. 

And he likes french fries. Hold the ketchup.

And if you're patient...and make tsk tsk noises...

BlaBla will eat steal right out of your hand.

And then he'll sit there, enjoying his treat, and wait for his next sucker.

True story. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Always the Simple Ideas.

It's always the simplest ideas that are the most entertaining. Does that ever happen to you? You look at a new product and wonder to yourself why you didn't think of that sooner? I swear, I should be a millionaire by now. 

Anyway, working at camp in Maine for the summer is the best job in town. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, trust me. But, the hours are long and the work can be hard so when a day off rolls around we take advantage. Typically we spend our days off with groups of friends and travel around New England looking for fun things to do. On one particular day off this summer we managed to entertain ourselves for nearly 30 hours with some of the simplest things around. 

I'll give you some examples.

1. The Swing Ring Game.

It all started with the ring swing game at dinner. If you have a porch then you need to build yourself this simple game. There is a small metal ring attached to the string and the object is to swing the ring and catch it on the hook at the bottom of the 2x4. Pretty simple, eh?

It's amazing how elusive that hook can be. Infuriating, even.

But man, when you hook it -- you feel like the world's biggest bad ass.

Case in point.

2. The Human Trash Can. 

We moved on to a baseball game where the Portland SeaDogs were playing. The SeaDogs, in case you didn't know, are the farm team to the Boston Red Sox. However, more exciting than the baseball was the poor guy dressed up as a trash monster. You could actually put your trash in his mouth! Throwing empty beer cups away has never been more exciting. Genius, I tell ya.

3. The Disco Ball.

The next morning we somehow acquired a disco ball that was promptly installed in our day off car. It's all about the atmosphere. Simple. Entertaining.

4. Diving for Rocks.

Eventually we made our way to North Conway, New Hampshire where we hiked up to Diana's Bath which is a beautiful rock quarry in the White Mountains. The best part about Diana's Bath is "the hole." 

Basically, you drop yourself into a 10 foot deep hole (that you wouldn't know was there unless someone told you or you were unfortunate enough to fall into) that opens up at the bottom. 

The goal is simple -- make it to the bottom and back...

And bring with you a rock as proof. 

Why does this provide so many hours of endless entertainment? I have no idea. But it does. 


5. Stacking Rocks.

Once plenty of rocks were accumulated from the hole someone decided to stack them all. This someone shall remain nameless (cough, cough...The Canadian). Did I mention that this was not a fast process? As in an hour or so.

Even more entertaining and simple than the art of stacking rocks is the art of kicking rocks over. Actually, the rocks weren't knocked over but the threat of knocking them over was enough to send someone over the edge. And that, my friends, was super simple and entertaining.

It's all about simplicity. Don't ever forget that.