Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.


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Camp MaKaJaWan is a wonderful place with much to offer and teach us all. The scouts come here to learn from us—about scouting, about merit badges, about being a wild and crazy yet responsible role model. Camp has taught me all these things as well (though I’m still working on the last bit), but mostly, it has taught me more about myself and the person I want to be. Over the last two years, watching the OA ceremonies has inspired me to continue trying to be worthy of that honor. I want to be the kind of person who is dedicated to serving others, who embodies the scouting spirit. Last year, I was blessed enough to work for and with other such people. I learned from working with the other ranch staff last year, and I grew as a teacher.

This year was decidedly different. To most of the camp staff, this was the “best summer ever,” but for me, this summer has been a hard one. Both of the other girls on the ranch staff were cold and distant the entire time I was at camp. They never explained their system to me, never so much as introduced themselves when I arrived at camp. They would go off to the ranch together and leave me behind on a regular basis. When the three of us were together, they would talk to each other, but never to me. One of them was particularly nasty. I don’t think she ever said a single kind word tome; if she deigned to acknowledge me, it was to order me around or to sneer at me.

Towards the end of the summer, I did a couple of stupid things in one day—took Stanley out to Gilwell without asking permission, assumed the hummus the other two had gotten was for everyone. I apologized for both, and then I did what I’d wanted to do for weeks: I told M. that she had treated me like sh*t all summer (and yes, I actually said it, my first-ever use of that word), and that I wanted to know what I’d done to make her think I deserved that. She said that I brought it upon myself, because I was arrogant and incompetent, that I thought I knew more than I actually did.

Now, I’ll admit that that last accusation is probably entirely true. I accept that I may have been more arrogant or more incompetent than the other two; I made more than my fair share of mistakes this summer, including neglecting to ask permission for some things when I should have. All I will point out is that I was obviously deemed competent enough to be worth rehiring, and that don’t think someone who assumes the right to the front seat of the car and the first shower when we get back to the cabin ALL SUMMER has the right to call anyone else arrogant.

But, questions of my own competence aside, what really rankles is the idea that I deserved to be treated like garbage all summer. No one, no matter how stupid or incompetent or just plain mean, deserves to be made to feel worthless and unwanted, and I’m going to try for the rest of my life to uphold that conviction.

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Random Thoughts from Week Three at Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan

  • How to insult a sixteen-year-old boy: tell him that you’ve known stronger eleven-year-olds.
  • The fastest way to clean a kitchen is to fill it with Klines. We were in and out of that kitchen in record time – it was crazy! Mikey and Brian Kline are unbeatable team in the dishroom.
  • Speaking of Brian, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to spend any time with him while he was visiting camp. But I’m very happy for him for being tapped out this weekend. The moment was priceless. He leaned back to let the jumper pass—obviously he had no idea that Drew was going for him. But Drew grabbed him roughly by the shoulders and dragged him forward. “Welcome,” he said, to which Brian’s eloquent response was, “Aw, sh*t.”
  • I want to be in the OA so badly. For a lot of reasons. Some of them are selfish: I know it would look good on a resumé. Some of them are childish: I think it looks awesome. But the real reasons, the important ones, go much deeper than that. The OA represents the kind of person I want to be: someone who serves willingly, wholeheartedly, and without hesitation. 
  • Mama Kline used the word “schmutz” while we were cleaning the dining hall one night, and in that instant, I was home. It’s amazing, the power of a little Yiddish. Last August, I told Kristin that there was schmutz on the mirror, and she said, “there’s what?” Wherever I end up living, I’m going to have to find myself some Jewish friends or neighbors, because growing up in a largely Jewish area has had more influence on me than I realized before I left it.
  • I participated in a folk jam session up at admin earlier with Cory and Joe and a couple of adults who were going for brotherhood. It was AWESOME.
  • Note to self: Bring violin to camp next year. Also, learn the words to Hallelujah, Rocky Top, and Wagon Wheel.


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Let’s Play Catch-Up!

So for the last five weeks, I’ve been at camp, where internet access is very limited. I could go online when we went into town every week, but that sort of spoils the aura of camp. While I’m up in the North Woods, the internet does not exist; or at least, it only exists when I have to take care of Very Important Things, like arrangements for my study abroad next semester. 

But camp did give me a lot to write and think about, and a fair amount of it made it into a paper journal I kept. So over the next few days I should be transferring that onto this account.