Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer Camp in Yamanashi

I've been thinking a lot about dukkha lately. Dukkha relates to suffering. It's kind of a catch-all word. Being caught in a mild rain without an umbrella is dukkha. So is having a lit match fall on the tip of your penis (it'll take a few drinks on your part to get that story out of me). Anyways, trivializing any suffering that comes your way is an interesting coping technique. Give it a shot!

I don't know where I'm going with this. Well, I kind of do, but I don't want to spurt out negative shit about things like summer camp. I mean, we're talking about summer camp for 200 elementary school kids. How can that be bad? If I ignore the monstrously sucky times, after a couple weeks all that will be left will be my photos and positive memories. Take that reality!

A factual acount of the 5 day long English immersion summer camp I taught at would include such gems as:
  • My god, do Japanese peope eat fried chicken and pork for breakfast every day? Can I just get some coffee and a Calorie Mate?
  • It's 10pm, time to have a meeting to discuss our 10:30 meeting. Please take notes, as there will be a follow up meeting at 11.
  • The beer vending machine in the lobby was empty by the second night.

Cute kid! Unfortunately, I'm ethically unable to post any pictures of the elementary school kids that were in my charge for the week. Something about laws or what not. You are, however, privy to some photos of random kid's hats.



Leave NO Trace

Random Engrish aside, it was interesting to see how a summer camp is run in Japan. The idea that summer camp means going outside a lot and getting dirty was trumped by the idea that Japanese children are delicate little things that must be protected from all harm. A hike was called off because there was a chance of lightning, and a couple years ago, someone was almost hit by lightning. Not someone from our camp, just some random person in a country of 127 million was almost hit by lightning... somewhere. A half day spent frolicking in the river was canceled for safety reasons as well. So, much of our time was spent indoors. Fresh mountain air? Fuck that noise!

All the babying (there's a well documented "mama's boy" epidemic in Japan these days) led to a god damn hilarious camp fire the last day. More like a bonfire, this shit was wild. We did all sorts of pagan dancing, set off fireworks, sang "Crank Dat Soulja Boy", and essentially overloaded some of the kids. There is a word in Japanese for it, but I don't remember. Something about being overwhelmed with emotion. I saw about 5 or 6 kids bawling their eyes out to the tune of "Country Road". It was special.

The month long summer vacation is now over. Back to school lunches and sleeping 14 year old kids with hair primped and waxed, standing a foot in the air in what is considered cool style. Back to a job that is emotionally satisfying, yet leaves my pockets like a gaping void. Back to school!

No comments: