Travel: Thick toilet paper, clean sheets, balloon extravaganza and a swimming pool

This weeks day off was spectacular! On Friday evening Kerry’s (an American friend) mum came and picked some of the gang up and Mia (another American friend) drove the rest to Kerry’s house in New Jersey.

It took about 2 hours to drive there and I enjoyed the luxury of sitting in the front of a very big, nice car.

When we turned onto the street Kerry lived on I was amazed at how beautiful the houses looked. In my opinion they all looked like typical American houses even down to the mail boxes at the end of the drives.

We were greeted by an extremely excitable and friendly dog. I would even go as far as saying that the dog was the cutest one I have ever seen.

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Once we arrived we had freshly delivered pizzas waiting for us in the gazebo. Kerry’s dad had even gone to the trouble of decorating the gazebo with fairy lights and the pool (oh yes there was a pool) was surrounded by torched lanterns.

We all sat around the table in the gazebo and tucked into our pizzas that contained both meat and cheese!

A while after we all decided to jump in the pool. By this time it was about 11pm and I expected the pool to be cold because it wasn’t heated. Timidly dipping my feet in I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that bad. Then before I had chance to gently walk into the water I was hurdled into the air and chucked in, all thanks to Dan. I suppose it was a quicker way to do it!

It was a very active nights swim as the boys began diving, back flipping and jumping off the diving board. I stuck to my star jumps and balled up bombs as I didn’t think my bikini would hold up if I decided to dive in.

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After swimming I had a wonderful shower were I didn’t have to dodge the bugs or fear any body part hitting the sides of the shower cubicle. It was blissful!

I was also happy to discover that not all American toilet paper is wafer thin! It really is the simple things you miss when you are at camp!

All showered and in my pjs we dragged mattresses into the lounge and created one big bed. With air con, a decent mattress and feeling the cleanest I have ever felt since leaving England, I slept like a queen.

In the middle of the night I was awoken to Dan pulling my sponge bob blanket off me. I was not pleased until I realised there was another blanket right next to me. I quickly drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake up until 10am. It was ‘awesoooome’.

Once we were up and about we noticed all the food in the kitchen. It was as though the magic fairy, in the form of Kerry’s mum, had come and delivered all this food for us. Strawberries, normal yogurt, cups of tea, bagels, mini muffins, blueberries and healthy cereal!! We were all so grateful to be there!

After filling out faces we all crashed back on our giant mattress and lounged about some more. It was so nice to be able to relax.

Later in the afternoon we all went back in the pool and messed around. More jumping, diving, swimming and handstands.

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Hours passed in what felt like minutes. At around 5pm we started to retreat back into the house by which time Kerry’s mum had returned with yet more food for a BBQ!

Meat and cheese, normal tasting hot dogs, corn on the cob that we hand peeled! It was all delicious and I couldn’t have been more grateful!

After eating we decided to watch a film and for some reason the film that was chosen turned out to be Grease! I thought it was a very strange choice of film considering all the boys that were with us. Sam (a guy from New Zealand) was particularly into the film whilst I accidentally fell asleep.

At about half 9 we all packed up the car and headed home. Dan casually mooned the others who were sat in Kerry’s car whilst we drove on the ‘highway’, which was pretty funny.

I did not want to return to camp after experiencing such luxuries, but back we all went. I am now just looking forward to next Friday evening when we all head to Ashley’s house.

The following day my alarm woke me up and it took me a good 10 minutes before I could move out of bed to begin the day. I imagined Sunday would be difficult because it was visiting day whereby all the parents descend onto camp to see there children. I had been warned that all I will get all day is complaints from parents asking why there child hadn’t been photographed!

I was therefore very surprised when parents called me over to their gazebos (yes they brought big ass gazebos filled with food) to tell me how wonderful the photography has been this year in comparison to last year. Such relief washed over me every time someone complimented the work I had been doing!

I took photographs throughout the day and at 4pm I was finally able to escape the madness by returning to my bunk for a couple of hours.

I seriously cannot believe how excessive visiting day was. When you visit your child why do you need to bring everything plus the kitchen sink?! I am sure many Brits will respond by saying, ‘that’s Americans for you!’

That evening all of Teenside trekked it across to Mainside for a balloon extravaganza. As always I was there with my camera and on this occasion I kept forgetting to use it as I found the magical John Cassidy so captivating. Every magician amazes! How can someone guess what card you choose and have flashing billboards all prepared before you even pick it? He even got inside a huge red balloon and pulled faces through it – he was just nuts.

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Before I was entertained by Mr Cassidy I was feeling pretty down. Simply because I had hardly eaten anything all day because the camp food has begun to make me want to vomit. After dinner I came away wanting desperately to eat some of my mums roast potatoes, feeling frustrated and a little homesick. After the show, I walked the half a mile back to my unit smiling to myself at the fact that every time I am down, something crazy like a balloon magician, always lifts my spirits!

That night I also had to sit OD but luckily one of the campers lent me a DVD to watch; ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’. It’s got to be pretty epic with a title like that, right?!

Monday consisted of usual camp business but on Tuesday, camp went all Zen. By Zen I mean spiritual, which involved a lot of tiedying and stick and wool making.

I also tried yoga for the first time and one camper told me I was pretty good at it! I think I may go to a few yoga classes when I get home. After the yoga I did feel very zen!

At lunchtime on Wednesday, Steve and I took our teenagers to the cinema to see Despicable Me 2 as part of an animation workshop. It was a very stressful and hectic trip and I have the utmost sympathy for my old teachers whenever they took us on a trip somewhere.

Wednesday evening was the all camp show which was lovely to watch. The younger kids were adorable as they acted out Hercules for the rest of camp.

During the intermission we all had ice cream sandwiched between two cookies. It was amazing and I am looking forward to the next all camp show to eat one again.

On Thursday I spent the entire day by the lake taking pictures for the end of camp slideshow. As the lake is one of my favourite places at camp, I had a great day. Half of Teenside were on a trip so it was pretty quiet and relaxed.

For the first time whilst being at camp I got sunburnt! It was about 40 degrees so no amount of suncream would of protected me from the inevitable sunburn.

That evening I went to the diner with John, Carlo and Dan and yet again I had the french onion soup, it’s just so good.

It was also the staff banquet and everyone got dressed up for it. I wore these ridiculously tight paint sprayed shorts with a tank top – what have I become?! It was pretty funny considering no alcohol was to be consumed.

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On Friday, all I did was look forward to my evening and following day off. Come 7.30, ‘the gang’ all piled into Ashley’s and Kerry’s car and headed to Long Island to stay at Ashely’s.

Once we arrived we headed to a pizza place and ordered your average huge American pizzas. The staff must have taken a liking to us as we kept getting given free food. Either that or it was because it was the end of the day and they still had food left.

After pizza we went back to Ashley’s and all squished into her hot tub. I don’t think I have ever seen so many tangled up bodies in one hot tub before. The water level definitely decreased by the time we all got out!

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The evening rolled into the morning and I ended up falling asleep listening to Dan tell a very ‘red flag’ story!

The next day we went to a huge shopping mall and I treated myself to a new bikini from Victoria Secret. I was very pleased with my purchase!

I slept in the car in our way back to camp and also ended up going to bed at 8pm. I don’t think any amount of sleep will help prepare me for a day at camp!

On Sunday I took lots of pictures of the campers doing different activities related to birds. Then at 12.30 we all watched a bird show which was very interesting.

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In the afternoon I ended up half taking pictures and half filming a video for Steve’s birthday. Making the video was pretty funny especially as John didn’t initially want to be filmed but ended up being in it the most.

At 9pm everyone gathered in the Eddie Canter theatre to watch the end of session 1 slideshow that Steve and I had created. I was pretty nervous as Steve hit play, just hoping nothing went wrong and all the campers liked it.Β I think it was a success as many people applauded and left in tears. If no-one cried, Steve and I took it as a failed attempt!

The next day lots of campers packed there bags and left camp. The ones that stayed will be here for another session but before that begins they have trip break. During trip break all the specialists have to be counsellors whilst the normal counsellors have time off.

After lunch, all the remaining campers and specialist counsellors chilled out on the beach and in the lake. Later in the evening we all headed to the canteen and chilled out some more.

On Tuesday we woke up for breakfast, which was blueberry pancakes and then got onto a yellow school bus. The whole of camp headed for the movies and I got to fall asleep whilst all the kids watched The Croods.

Once we got back to camp we had lunch and then Mia (American friend) , Elisia (fellow English girl) and I all went to get out nails done as we all felt we deserved a treat.

That evening I had to sit OD which turned out to be the worst OD so far. The majority of my unit did not go to sleep and refused to turn their lights out. All I wanted to do was go to sleep but the rude campers prevented me from doing so. An apology from the campers the following morning was appreciated.

The next day, lots of other children arrived for the beginning of session two. I took photographs all day and was happy to finally be in bed come the evening.

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