Thursday, April 10, 2003

Camp ForgetMeNot

I just got an email from Adam, my friend since second grade. We did everything together, from legos to basketball to theatre-everything in between. We won two Leo awards for our commercials, and we remade Pulp Fiction into a physics movie.

It was he who introduced me to the Boy Scouts of America. Later, he got me a job at L.E. Phillips Scout Reservation, in Haugen Wisconsin. Don't worry if you don't know where Haugen is-no one does. We have worked there during the summers ever since.

As a wierd twist, I was the one who got nim the climbing job there he wanted so badly. We worked together in the climbing program, teaching wall, rock, and C.O.P.E. until I was "called up" to work an office job. I started working in the office at Cub World, and eventually jhad to run the camp myself (even when Dan was there, I was on my own). This year, I was supposed to take over completely.

Adam stayed at climbing. I am starting to see his genius. While I have the headache of dealing with people who are ruining the program from the top, he gets to top out with the kids-teaching them a safe, and valuable program.

Not that my job was not valuable. Far from it, I was a team leader. I had to keep everyone going when all they wanted to do was quit. And now I am quitting.

When I got my contract I thought they had made some mistake. The average raise is 15% a year. My raise was 0%. I didn't mind, and was still going to work for them, I just needed an explaination. I called and left messages for three weeks. No response. From the people who were supposed to be teaching young boys how to become men, I was getting the run around. Worse than the run around, I was getting the silent treatment.

I traked it back to our Council Executive, Mr. Dennis Horn. It is his job to make sure this non-profit organization turns a profit. Someone has to get rich, and profit margins mean pay raises for upper level workers like him. First year staff still make 110 a week. Hard to get 15-16 year olds away from their families and friends for that money. See, the other thing is, it is a 24 hour a day job: on-site living.

The appeal for me? I was a part of something special. I learned a lot about what it really means to be a man-in that non-gender way as well as the old fashioned sense. I learned a lot about growing up, and more about not growing old. I made friends I could not ever forget. And all the while, I got to hang out with Adam-extend our high-school commraderie.

That is all gone now. The day I stepped into the office I learned what camp was really about. I learned all the dark secrets that keep a camp of 50 male workers and 10 female workers happy. I learned how to turn a blind eye to things we taught our children were wrong. I learned double-speak, beurocrat, and flat out lying. I kept the ship sailing with tattered sails and drunken shipmates. At the end of the year I got a bonus, a gold leaf thank you card, and more responsibility.

I hope Adam has a good time climbing. I wish I could be there with him. Our trips to Taylors falls may have been the highlights of my summers. Watching the kids learn more about what they could do, and more about the environment. Watching them discover their was more to climbing than a rope and a rock-discovering the pot-hole trail-the ecology of the area-the geology of the face they were staring at-the preservation techniques that wills our sport to the next generation. I envy him for making the right choice, and staying with what he loved. At the time I thought it was my duty-that's what I told people-to move up the ladder. In truth, it was my pride that let me take jobs I did not want. Pride went before the fall.

Good luck Adam, and thank you for the years of fun. We will get together at Fancy Dancer-you lead.

~"On my honor I wil do my best to do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." -The BoyScout Oath

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