I am a camp survivor. I successfully made it through Year 7 Camp 2015. There were moments of fun and elation but mostly there was bad food, unrelenting questions and small, hard bunk beds. You know the beds I’m talking about — they are not designed to provide a good night’s sleep for adults but rather throw your neck out so you walk with a slight tilt for the duration of camp.
This year, the teachers took camp survival to the next level. We took an espresso machine. We were serious. Camp apathy and fatigue were not going to catch us out — we were going to power through no matter how little sleep we had, how loud the kids on the trampoline were, how extreme the kink in our neck was or how many processed carbohydrates we had consumed. This optimism and infallibility lasted approximately 18 hours until reality began to sink in.
Surviving on two or three hours sleep belongs to the crazy days of being a university student or a new parent. I am neither of those, yet after the first night of camp I was barely alert or conscious and my tolerance was at an all-time low. This was the start of the day on which I had three hours straight of trampoline duty and no access to the espresso machine or a comfortable place to sit or lie down. I also managed to attract every student who needed to talk at somebody.
“You know, my uncle has seven dogs at his farm.”
“Really? That’s a lot of dogs.”
“Yeah, there’s three girls and four boys… no, that’s round the wrong way, three boys and four girls and one of the girls is going to have puppies soon and Dad said we might be allowed to get one but mum says they are a lot of work but dad says we can handle it but mum says because they are born on the farm they might not work out in the suburbs but dad says we will just need to walk it lots.”
“Uh huh … only one at a time on the trampoline and take your shoes off, Maddy and Sarah!”
“If we do get one I want it to be a girl and I want it to be brown but if we can’t get that I would be happy with a black and white boy puppy.”
I may have drifted off mentally around this point behind the safety screen that was my sunglasses. I still seemed capable of barking out trampoline orders despite my stupor.
“Time to swap … that’s too high … watch out for the springs … one at a time … you need to dry off after being in the pool … who knows how to use the coffee machine and wants to make me a coffee?”
We’ve been back at home for a bit over a week now. I have made a full recovery, with the exception of my neck. I am still having trouble checking the traffic at intersections. It is my camp souvenir.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and stand-up comedian.