Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cross Country Culture…3

Marble Falls“Culture shock” is all I can say about my week of work in Marble Falls. If it weren’t for the few familiar friends, the landscape I so love, and the hot humid August weather I had (thought I) much missed, I don’t think I would have made it through the week. 
After a few handshakes and smiles exchanged with brand new faces of all ages and shapes, I found myself sitting in the living room of the Director/Owner’s house as he explained what the week was to entail. The gist of the meeting was that no one knew what was to entail…this was going to be a brand new experiment allowing underprivileged kids to come ‘be at camp’ for a week, and strengthen from the character building that happens upon trying new things. This group would then be tracked and tested periodically and contrasted with their peers to see if this made a significant impact.
As my mind tried to process this information, I glanced around them room, trying to recognize the cultural clues that would be my home for the next week. Bare feet and flip flops replaced the “closed-toe-shoe” rule I had upheld all summer. Tank tops and running shorts of violently loud  colors seemed to be the dress code. In place of the dirty, hippie friends I had so shortly left behind in New Mexico were dozens of beautiful, manicured people- with unrealistic tans. 
I spent the entire week being lost, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and not ready for the silly dancing, continuous singing, and blatantly “fun” but altogether meaningless activities that were required at camp. I tried hard to be a bridge between the ‘summer camp staples’ that this camp required and the slow, intentional and character-focused work that I had been doing all summer, but along with the heat, this took all the energy I had.
It had only been a year or two since I was in Texas in August. Walking through snow in New York, or digging through it in California, I had often reminisced the humid summers. But tossing and turning in a puddle on my bunk in my open air cabin, hoping for the slightest breeze (cause that’s all that comes) to blow in off the lake beside me, was a sweaty reminder of why I worked at an indoor day-camp in the summers growing up. Even at night, watching the waxing moon rise and set over its reflection in the still lake, I sweat. I realized that Amil may be right, I have adapted to the brisk wintery evenings that come with living in mountains.
Despite my personal culture shock, trying so hard to be present and enjoy the experience, but wanting so bad to leave, to be away from Miley Cirus songs, i-pods and processed food that you had 10 minutes to scarf down, the week was a success. Although a few of the girls, coming from less wealthy backgrounds than the rest of the campers, felt as out of place as I did, many of them were tearful upon their departure, wishing they could have the same experience next year, and hoping to keep in touch with all their friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment