Hey Camp George!
I recently returned from spending four months in Africa. In addition to completing an internship at a magazine and volunteering , I also participated in a three week overland tour. This tour took me from Cape Town, South Africa all the way to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (That’s over 5000 KM!). Having spent my entire life in Toronto (thus far), heading to Africa without knowing anyone was initially very daunting.
Although I was pretty nervous about moving half way around the world without knowing anyone, I knew that my experiences at camp gave me an advantage. After all, who else could say that they had spent fourteen summers meeting so many different people, playing name games and learning life lessons in ways that are only possible at camp?
After successfully navigating Cape Town, South Africa for three months, I found myself about to embark on a three week trip (by truck) with fifteen total strangers. Three weeks in the afternoon wilderness with no one I knew was a challenge…
On overland tours you spend A LOT of time driving, and without the use of any technology, this leaves a lot of time for people to get to know each other. Though the participants on our trip all came from different backgrounds, nations, and also varied in age (I was one of the youngest participants), the fact that we were all on this trip united us. In many ways, this trip was like camp: the weather was hot (ok very hot!!), we spent 24 hours a day together, ate together, participated in skill building activities together (like climbing sand dunes !), worked through challenges together and celebrated successes together. Having spent fourteen summers at Camp George, I was no stranger to meeting new people, finding ways to occupy time through storytelling and conversation, dealing with first aid issues or helping to prep meals. After all, I had met new people every summer, told countless bed time stories, and participated in too many Island Adventures to count!
Like at camp, using your skills to better your community and its members is always a welcomed course of action. With the help of one of my co-travelers, an Australian woman, I was able to use cooking skills I’d learned from Tripping, Island Adventures and Camp Craft to add some excitement to an otherwise ordinary early morning. This also turned out to be one of my favourite memories from the trip. We had decided to cook breakfast, which involved getting up at 5 A.M.to cook “American” style pancakes on a portable gas stove (while dodging giant flying beetles). Some of our fellow trip participants had never had them! While we were short on maple syrup, the pancakes were delicious and the experience stuck with all of us throughout the rest of our journey.
Although the first few days of the trip were hard, especially because I was one of two people who had come on the trip alone, I soon found my place. Tales of Canadian wild life and the craziness of Maccabiah entertained my co-travelers and, in turn, I heard stories about life in countries like Germany, New Zealand and Ireland. Before long, I was dispensing medical advice (absorbed from my years as a counselor and Unit Head) even as the truck bumped along dusty roads. My expertise in dealing with everything from mosquito bites, to cuts and upset stomachs, translated seamlessly into helping out my fellow travelers. Food prep in the middle of the Kalahari Desert? No problem. Years of canoe trips and Island Adventures proved to be more than enough training for such a challenge (although they were not nearly as sandy!).
Looking back on the trip, it becomes even clearer how the skills I learned at camp helped me to find my place on the adventure of a lifetime! I can’t wait to see how more of the skills I’ve learned at camp help me next!