smalldeer: ([stock] flowers)
bug ([personal profile] smalldeer) wrote2015-06-22 11:55 am
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Getting to camp was a challenge, and I arrived late - two days later than expected, and after dark, on the 16th of June. I was greeted warmly - everyone rattled off names and introductions so quickly they flew straight through both of my ears and disappeared into the night, so I've been asking repeatedly and addressing people with an enthusiastic but ambiguous "yo!" ever since. I'm getting there - slowly.

The welcome also came from some of the first fireflies I'd ever seen in my life. "Here's your cabin," I remember someone saying. "You should fit right in."

They said some other things, too, but all I could think was, I am gonna see some cool bugs here.

The next morning I was greeted by an amazing view of the adventure camp grounds, colourful and sunny, and with a glittering lake at one end. I got a warning from the driver on the way through the forest the night before; apparently the trees went on for so many miles and the trails were so scarce that if you walked in one direction off the path for too long it'd be all too easy to get turned around.

The lack of a signal on my phone anywhere on-site just adds to the feeling of being far from civilisation - in fact, aside from the tiny hamlet of Long Lake about half an hour's inexperienced cycle down the road, the closest town is an hour away by car.

It's perfect.

Some might think that after 21 years of sitting on my ass in front of a computer, being put to some heavy manual labour in the blazing sun might be a harsh change for me. They'd only be half-right.

The fact is, ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to live somewhere menial chores were a part of life. It might sound stupid, and every time I've admitted it out loud, the looks I've been given have ranged between you poor unwitting soul and let's see how long that lasts.

The fact is, ever since I got here I've been loving every job I've been put to. So far I've helped to chop up and move felled trees, drag branches into place for a paintball course, been a guinea pig for a high ropes adventure course, raked earth flat for a batting cage, worked in a kitchen, sorted building materials, unloaded trucks, helped with gardening... the list goes on, and each task has been a welcome change of pace. My dream has been to live somewhere far from civilisation and work hard for my place, and right now I feel like I've got it.

The only downside is being so cut off from contact I feel like I'm worrying people back home. If everyone could do me a favour and not worry, that'd be a great load off my shoulders. Listen: the only thing I have to care about here so far is bug bites and sunburn.

I'm even eating better - while I wasn't about to make a big deal out of my recent veganism, I let it slip in the car on the way over and the driver passed word along the grapevine, and then the next morning when I appeared in the cafeteria for breakfast, the chef approached me and shook my hand. "Hey! You're the vegan, right? I got you!"

Everyone here has been friendly beyond belief. It's a welcome change from the UK, where smiling at your own neighbour will net you a dirty look and a place on their shit list. Here, if you asked someone nicely, they'd move the earth for you.

This also goes for everyone in the actual hamlet of Long Lake - the place is so small and quaint that everyone knows each other, and probably helped to build each other's houses. And maybe these look like the houses in cheap slasher movies, but I've never seen a slasher movie where the murderer wishes you a hearty good afternoon when you walk by. The whole area is beautiful. Upstate New York is a treasure.

5 days after I arrived, on the 21st of June, and I started flagging a little this morning. After so long with no contact with my family or friends back home, and pushing myself maybe a little too hard for too long, I wasn't doing quite as well. It was at this point someone gave me directions to the Loft.

The Loft, as it turns out, is little more than its name. It's an area upstairs around the side of the cafeteria, with the accumulated junk of, well... probably however many years it's been since Long Lake Camp opened. It's dusty, and most of the lights don't work, but there's an incredibly comfy old couch that seems to be fully intent on swallowing everyone before they can get free for lunch. There's a big television screen in the corner and a weird looking taxidermied deer head on the wall, and a drinks machine by the door.

The atmosphere there was amazing, and there were some other guys from all over the world all milling about playing pool to the tune of Every Breath You Take. I found the more dubious comics - mostly either mature, ripped to bits, or incredibly religious - stashed in a top drawer by the television, where 70s mixtapes and old talent show recordings go to die.

Since it was our Sunday off, we had a bonfire outside the cabins when it got dark, everyone roasted marshmallows and played music, and when the classics ran out, one guy got out his banjo. Even after I got tired and went to bed, the rain drove everyone from around the campfire to the shelter of our cabin's front porch and the banjo continued.

Today was mostly distracting two mischievous goats while others set up a chicken coop next to their enclosure. We also got to see the chicks that would be there. I'm kind of jealous of the camp worker that was hired to deal with the animals, but I just watched the comics shed get delivered by trailer and I'm pretty damn excited about that too.

To cap it off, it's been pretty amazing so far. I'm already intent on coming back next year, and the kids haven't even got here yet. We'll see how I feel when they do...

(posted once i FINALLY got wifi here, holy shit. they just installed it in the Loft after i wrote all this and my god is it welcome. i might order a bunch of stuff. ALSO i am reading everybody's comments!! i am just a little too busy to respond to them since i haven't had wifi barely at all but rest assured i am reading everything and i love you guys omg)

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