Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wet Hot Ukrainian Summer

"Well guys, we've made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers." 

It was definitely a wet, hot, and American summer in Ukraine this year. Logan and I worked at two summer camps through the month of June teaching English. I can't say for sure if all the children made it through unscathed, but I can assure you that they are all alive. 

Put all the good things about Ukraine (and the former Soviet Union) into a summer camp and you get Severyanin summer camp, run by Vladimir Nikolaivich who sometimes wears a jester hat with a serious face. Order, organization, performances, beautiful (beautiful) camp counselors, efficiency achieved! It's so magical that it's almost alarming. Sometimes, at the nightly disco, I'd watch all of the children follow their elders' dance moves perfectly until everyone was moving in the same way. A little bell would go off in my mind, like a bell ringing from the past. Except it wasn't just a regular bell, but the bell on top of a shop door opening and closing as people standing in line enter and exit with a loaf of bread. The flashing lights and music drum-and-base kicked me out of my trance until I was back in 2013--after the fall and just before bedtime.

Put all the not so great things about Ukraine (and the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union) into a summer camp and you get the second camp we worked at this summer. Disorganization, no counselors, no clear authority figures, no efficiency, no тихий час (quiet time), and wild children running around screaming and trying to one-up each other. We were a symbol of collapse, of havoc, of being left alone to fend for ourselves. Whatever we built got destroyed, literally. Even the giant spiders that built their webs on the gazebos at dusk were victims to the destruction. (Side note: a girl captured one of the spiders that captivated Logan for thirty minutes each night so she could hide it in another girl's bed). Whenever we made any progress, we watched it disappear in the form of rocks being hurled from one screaming child to another. BUT, we had each other--Logan and Cynden were there and I'm grateful for that! Even if it meant bonding over the fact that we all had food poisoning together.

I should say that I wrote these thoughts in the middle of my days at this camp when I was feeling a little low and disappointed. It wasn't all terrible. We met some good people, I taught some kids how to play poker, and we learned a lot about each other. Sometimes, the worst experiences end of being the best (and the funniest). All the other experiences stand in comparison and give us the perspective we need to take them with us forever.

Below are some photos of our Wet Hot Ukrainian Summer.

After summer camps, we adventured to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna so stay with me if you want to read about palaces, bubblebutts, cathedrals, sunsets, and the best self-created two-bar pub crawl.

From  the Number One Summer Camp

Logan teaching the campers how to play American Football!

Drawing the play on his belly
I love banquets!

Aftermath of the salt/clay/garbage pit

The mountain man guide that "led" us into the mountains and left us to forage
Carpathian Cyndle
Christmas in July Santa Drawing Game

We survived!
Day trippin' in Romania

Walking across the border

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