Friday, January 30, 2015

London Edition - The Camp America Fair

Volume IV: The Main Event, The Camp America Fair

So, dinosaurs and tearful reunions and giant clock towers aside, we came to London to find international staff members to hang out with us in the woods for Summer 2015.

So. Let me paint you a picture.

The fair is held right in the center of the City of London, across the street for Westminster Abbey at the Queen Elizabeth the II Conference Centre. (Sounds a tad English, doesn't it? With where the "R" goes and all? And the Queen. That part too.)

Westminster Abbey out the convention center window. I wonder what that line of people is...

That line wrapping all the way around the square...

And waiting to get into the conference center...

Over 3000 Camp America applicants visit the London Job Fair!

One of the interesting facts I heard is that the Camp America counselor line is longer than the line to ride the London Eye. (The big ol' Ferris wheel in the skyline.)

And inside we all waited and prepared our booths.

Over 150 camps were in attendance.

Ohh. Booth 124 sounds like a nice camp. I want to go to that camp.

All right. Let's do this thing.

150 camps?

3000 applicants?

 No problem-o. Let's find the FIVE that we think fit L.G. Cook the best...and for whom L.G. Cook best matches what they're looking for from their Camp America experience.

And HOW do we do it? How do we manage to sort out which five are right for us and we're right for them?

We talk to 'em! That's how. We explain what we try to create every summer at L.G. Cook and why we're passionate about Camp, and try to find the folks who want to be apart of that for a summer of their lives.

And we think we found 'em.


Are you ready to meet - live and in person - 

(Well, we met them live and in person. You'll have to meet them via a single photograph taken a week ago and shown to you over the internet and through whatever screen you happen to be looking we'll call that live and in person-ish.)

SO, are you ready to meet, LIVE AND IN-PERSONish, your Lindley G. Cook International Staff Members of 2015!

Meet Zoe! She'll be a counselor in creative arts!

Meet Lois! She'll be helping us out in the kitchen!

Meet Michael, a waterfront counselor! 

Meet Tara, Environmental Education counselor!

And meet Emma, a counselor at the Waterfront!

Though we've had awesome success in the past hiring on just applications and long distance interviews, it really was fantastic to get the opportunity to get to talk to these folks face to face and find who'd be the perfect fit for L.G. Cook. And the next we see them, they'll be showing up to spend a summer with us in Stokes Forest, along the shores of Lake Shawanni. Can't wait.

Next time on Go Back to the Mountains: London Edition Volume V: The Final Edition! (How many posts can you do about one trip to London, anyway? Five, is the answer. Five.)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

London Edition - Reunited! (And it feels so good.)

London Edition: Volume III - Reunited

As I said in a previous post, we've had 63 Camp America counselors join us over the past 14 summers. This means many things, and one  is that we have Camp Family members scattered all over the globe. And what's better than getting together with long lost family? Not nothing.

So today will be a tale of two staff members, recent and not.

First let us go back to ancient history. (Well, ancient history according to Camp time, at least. And as we know, Camp time goes very, very fast.)

Back to the distant past! Of a land called...2005. Yes, 2005! When the our main fire-ring was still deep in the forest, the canoes departed from the close side of the lake, several of our current Senior Staff members were our youngest campers and our current youngest campers had yet to be born. Back in this strange time  there was a bizarre and mythical creature. It went by the unorthodox name of Vlad Buxton. 

There's even photographic evidence of this creature on camp, captured with a rudimentary device called a "digital camera." It worked on Double-A batteries. It was a simple age.

Vlad caught feeding at Viking Dinner.

Vlad practicing his traditional homeland sport of "welly-wanging."

Vlad conquering America.

A now flash forward to 2015.  A decade after he was at Camp, we manage to track down and capture the elusive Vlad in his natural habitat.

10 years have passed and we both look exactly the same! (Is the story we're sticking to.)

Counselor and Director meet again! 

On the Tube. A classic London picture, as I'm told.

But Vlad's not all! Back to the time machine,  off to the not-distant-relatively recent past of a land called...2014. Well, that was only 29 days ago. Further back than that. A land called Summer 2014. And a man who lived there named Roshan.

Roshan as a...pirate? I think that is.

Roshan in the middle of a heated debate.

Roshan shivering and soaking wet on a hot summer day, cause that's what happens at Camp.

I bet you can figure out where this is going.

Roshan in civilization!

A civilization where no one ever, ever needs a watch.

Yes, catching up and spending some quality time with these two fine gentlemen was a highlight of our trip.

Once again it's the magic of Camp: whether we haven't seen each other in five months or ten years, we fall right back into the same ol' rhythms of retelling all that happened beside the fire, along the lake, and in the woods some summer long ago and close at heart.

Next Post: We move on from the counselors of the past to the counselors of the future and the Camp America Job Fair!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

London Edition: Jurassic Research

London Edition Volume II: Jurassic Research

So, the main reason we took the long trip to London was for people. To meet all sorts of people: international counselors, Camp America Staff, Camp Directors from around the country. But that of course raises the question: "Aren't dinosaurs people too?"

(You don't actually have to answer that. A team of paleontologists are working around the clock to figure that very thing out.)

Yes, in our manic London schedule Jim and I managed to find a little time to pop into the London Museum of Natural History for the purpose of preparing for  Jurassic Week . We're super excited about this new theme (if you haven't signed up, sign up now! You have signed up, sign up again! Come to the same week twice! Make a clone! Bend the space-time continuum! Or just attend once. Whichever), and figured one of the best museums in the world would be a good chance to find some inspiration for the week. 

All right, impressive exterior, Museum. I'll give you that.

Gargoyles! Just a general observation about my life: I don't see enough gargoyles.

And an impressive interior!

You're all right by me, Museum.

Jim's found a souvenir he wants.

Yup. It'd go great above one of the fireplaces in the Dining Hall.

Velcro's great-grand-father?

Enough things that aren't dinosaurs. On to the dinosaurs!

Now we're talking!

The museum is very strict. They force you to do your best impressions of any and all dinosaurs displayed.

This was not my idea. Just following museum policy.



Parasaurolophus! (Dinosaur names are the best use of letters.  No contest.)

Aww. They're finally friends.

Now we need to pause. Because around the corner of the hallway was literally, the coolest thing I've ever seen. This is not hyperbole. I have never seen anything cooler in my life.

They have a life-size, scientifically realistic, fully functional, animatronic, knock your socks off, Tyrannosaurus Rex! If the pictures look blurry, forgive me. That's only because it's moving around and ROARING AT US. (Seriously, if you're not doing anything right now, here's my suggestion. Get on an airplane. Go to London. Go straight to the museum. Look at this thing. Get right back on the plane. Come straight home. Totally worth the trip. Holy cow, this was a cool dinosaur.)


It's scary when it looks right at you.

Suffice to say, I want one. 

Fundraising campaign, anyone?
I promise I'd take real good care of it! We could keep it somewhere out of the way! Like the boathouse. Or Cabin #1.

So Jim caught me in this moment of pure child-like wonder staring at the T-Rex. The only other people with this look on their face were 4 years old. And then he had to drag me out of the room, or else instead of typing this I'd still be there right now.

And a non-Jurassic museum bonus:

A cross section of a giant sequoia. Like us, it's American and had to journey across the ocean to get here.
This is a thousand years of history marked on where it occurred in the life of this tree. The founding of Camp in '51 would be all the way down at the edge of the bark there.

Anyway, the trip gave us a lot of great ideas to help get all these Dinos to Camp. Be sure to check out Jurassic Week this summer to see the result of all we learned.

Next London Blogpost: Less bones! More real people!