camping in a cupboard part 1.

This past week I have been away on a youth camp. I was the speaker for the senior high kids and I’ve never done that before.

All the leaders arrive at the camp the day before the young people so I got a lift with Lezalee on Saturday afternoon out to the campsite. Lezalee was pretty much the only person I knew on the camp so I new the first few days would be tough. Give me a microphone or stand me in front of a group of people and ask me to speak and I’ll be able to kick off straight away, make jokes do my thing etc. But put me in a room full of people I don’t know and I’m as quiet as a mouse, I’ll respond to questions but not initiate conversation. For some strange reason new people freak me out and I get super shy and self conscious.

Anyway even being asked to speak on the camp was a bit of a shock for me as I have never been a speaker before, I’ve been an MC, I’ve led small groups, I’ve organised camps, I’ve run activities and I have visited camps to do a workshop or two but never been the main speaker responsible for daily talks. When I was asked to be the speaker there was 2 things that taunted me.

  1. Am I good enough and smart enough to provide a bunch of senior high peeps with biblical based content for a week that would challenge and equip them.
  2. Would I have enough poo jokes to sustain a whole week.

The other thing that was a bit daunting was that the director of the camp pretty much gave me free reign over what the content of my sessions would be.

As is usual in my life I spent the days leading up the the camp feeling pretty crap, loose and unformed stool, headaches, nausea the usual. Once at camp that was no different.

I arrived at camp and took my bags inside where I was led to my room. The good thing about being the speaker is that you get provided with your own space, the thing that amused me was that my ‘space’  was a cupboard. It was a lovely cupboard and it’s contents intrigued me for the whole week. It had a window which was nice although even with the window open there was a strange aroma to the cupboard. On that first afternoon / evening people were coming and going from my abode a fair bit so I unfolded a large puppet theatre that was near my bed to create a bit of a partition, unfortunately there was no puppets. If there were puppets I totally would have started a cupboard production.

The first night and next morning was spent with some team training sessions and cramp induced visits to the toilet.

Once the young people started to arrive I found my groove a bit better. As often seems to be the case with me at youth events etc I found myself amongst the more cheeky / naughtyish type lads.

After around 10 years of working with teenagers at youth events, camps, schools etc, my tolerance of ‘get to know you’ games is quite low. Anyway the first night all the senior high kiddies headed up the room which would become our hang for the week. We did a bunch of get to know you games and eventually the toilet roll was pulled out. Not because someone had let one out on the floor but so we could play the game where you pull off however many squares you would normally use and then you go around and say one fact about yourself for each square of 2ply you have.

I was one of the last people to have a turn and I had to consider 2 things. I wanted to say something that no one else had said and I also wanted to say stuff that would try to get the young people on side with me as quickly as possible. I think the speakers role is different from leading a small group etc as it’s your job to be engaing so that you can get across the serious content you want to convey without people turning off. So I think it’s important to be engaging from the get go. Not that it’s not important for leaders but they have more opportunity to build rapport etc. In my normal style I attempted to be amusing.
I had about 6 sheets, so rattled off normalish things like having pet turtles, my full name etc. but then for one of my facts I said that I was currently in a bit of trouble from the wife because I dropped something in the garden the other day not realising Oscar was close by and I said something like ‘Oh F%&#$ng nuts!”. And that Oscar now walks around and looks down and mutters in a similar tone to me “Oh friggen nuts”. It got quite a big laugh but I just thought it would be a quirky little fact and had no idea it would then turn into a catchphrase for the senior high kids for the entire camp. One night there was a camp wide trivia night and teams had to have a phrase to use as their buzzer. there at the back of the hall a team stood up and all shouted ‘Friggen nuts!” While I was pretty amused on the outside, on the inside all I was thinking was please don’t ‘friggen nuts’ be the only thing the campers take home from me.

When my morning routine falls apart my body doesn’t seem to cope and pretty much every time it ends in sloppy jaloppy and feeling super seedy. For the Tuesday morning of the camp there was to be a 4:30am wake up to catch a bus down to Mona Vale beach to watch the sunrise, have breakfast, worship and have a talk before beach fun.
When my alarm went off at 4:30 I could instantly tell my body was not impressed. I was sweating and feeling super seedy and also had some lovely bowel cramps. On the bus the cramps went away but I was feeling pretty darn off. The bus dropped us off on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and beach, there was not a toilet in sight. I stood at the back of the morning worship trying to sing a long but spending most of my energy thinking about how sick I felt and that any moment I was going to need to explode whilst at the same time knowing as soon as the worship finishes it’s time for my speaking gig. I knew there was no time to go find a toilet so just stood there praying that the cramps would not return.

I think I talked for about 20 minutes and managed to stay on topic but while my lips were moving my body was squirming. Eventually I needed to dash….somewhere?!?!?!

I finished talking, chatted for a bit then decided to walk to Warriewood surf club as It was the closest known toilet. On the walk the cramps returned and it felt like the longest walk I have ever taken. I made it JUST in time.

Part 2 will come when I have had more sleep and will contain less poo related material…less not none.


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