Archive for July, 2011

Every year around this time I give you a heads up that I’ll be taking a blogging break for a week, in order to go hang out with several hundred middle schoolers. This year, as I was thinking about and getting excited for the upcoming week, I also realized that I hadn’t done my July donation yet. And I wondered why I had never donated money to a camp that has been so influential and so important in my life.

YCM, the organization that sponsors The Great Escape (the official God camp name), also allows you to designate your donation to a scholarship fund that allows students the chance to attend camp. And that is where I want my money to go this month.

Being a camper meant the world to me as a 7th and 8th grader. And considering that this is my 12th summer actually working there, I’d say it left a lasting impression.

A little taste of camp: costumes, human foosball, dancing, and skits.

Or I’m just a really bad quitter.

So, in honor of my leaving for camp, and hopefully helping someone else to go in the future, I’ve decided to revisit my very first blog post – the one that got me into blogging in the first place.

Enjoy, and have a great week!

When most people say they’re going away for a week, they’re going on vacation. When I say I’m going away for a week, I’m going to God camp. As a counselor. With 500 middle schoolers.

I don’t think that qualifies as a vacation.

The camp takes place in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. The cool place to hang out is the Super Wal-Mart.

On the one hand, I think it’s great that we can bring all these kids together in a place with minimal distractions. On the other hand, I’m reminded that my very first kiss happened at this same camp over 10 years ago. Middle schoolers only need one another to be distracted.

Maybe because of this, one of the first rules we teach horny teenagers at God camp is as follows: NO PURPLING.

What does that mean, exactly? It’s simple: boys are blue and girls are red. Clever, right?

Now, considering even I grew up with this rule (pretty much every church camp/retreat has it), I never thought much of it. In fact, I figured it made perfect sense when you’re at a religious event — talk to whomever you want, but no making out, etc.

I only realized that this “purple rule” was unique to Christian camps (maybe even specifically to Presbyterian ones), when I was talking to one of my college friends who works at a Jewish sleepaway camp every summer.

She was talking about the summer romances as a camper and as a counselor and I asked, “But what about the no purpling thing?” The look she gave me was one of confusion, and as I started to explain the “boys are blue…” analogy, she started to laugh.

“Well, of course it’s not encouraged,” she said, “but there’s no rule.” (Her past three relationships have started at camp.)

Listen, I’m not naive. I know what goes on when you put over 500 middle schoolers in the same place. There are bound to be hormonal attractions and there are bound to be those bold enough to act on them.

If I had merely my first kiss at camp over 10 years ago, I can’t imagine what’s going on now. Actually, I can, I just don’t want to.

One of the girls I work with at the camp told me about a conversation she’d had with her boyfriend the night before. He, having never been to one of these camps, asked, “So, do you have any ‘one time at God camp’ stories?” And she had to say yes.

She’d been caught making out with a boy from another church — by his leader. It actually came back to bite her in the ass when her little brother was spotted making out with another camper later in the week.

“How am I supposed to tell him to stop, when I got caught doing the same thing?” she asked us.

As wise as we are, collectively, not one of us had a good answer — perhaps because we all have one of those “one time at God camp” stories that prevent us from chiding someone else.

Working at these camps is kind of like being a parent: you lay out the rules, but you know the kids will find a way around them, because that’s exactly what you did when you were their age.

You know (or think you know) all the tricks, and when they come up with new, ingenious way around the rules, you’re annoyed, but also a little bit impressed. (Coupled with that feeling of “Oh man, why didn’t I think of that? Of course the side stairs are better for sneaking out.”)

Sometimes I think, at this point, the purple rule is just tradition. It’s been said at every camp, conference, and retreat, for at least the past 20 years -– a classic.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to enforce it (for instance, there are no slow songs at the end of the week dance), but we all know that it will get broken.

It’s just a matter of finding out how.

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This post is a few days late, but I’ve been away. So better late than never.

This past Thursday evening I was one of many many people lined up for the midnight viewing of the final Harry Potter movie.

Go ahead, judge away. I don’t mind.

I have been waiting for this movie since I read the book – even more so since I saw the first part back in November. And along with a sense of closure and some sadness, seeing this movie also inspired a few other observations.

1) I didn’t want to mock the costumes as much as I thought I would. Sure, one Hedwig looked better than another. And the fact that we couldn’t tell if one girl was in costume or not was unfortunate. But overall, the looks (and tag lines) were creative. (I’m looking at you, “I’ve got 99 problems, but a snitch ain’t one.“)

2) Harry Potter fans are a mostly peaceful bunch. For instance, when we lost sound part way through the movie during a key scene, there weren’t all-out riots.  There was some yelling, to be sure, but most people calmly stepped outside and reported the problem. Which is probably why management met us at the door after the movie with free tickets to another showing.

3) I probably shouldn’t be allowed to go to midnight premieres anymore, considering the last time I did the movie also malfunctioned. (It was also Harry Potter – the 5th one.)

4) Harry Potter fans are friendly. One girl brought glowstick wands for everyone in the theater. Granted, she also passed out flyers for her organization with them, but in the end we still got glowsticks.

5) No matter how much they changed the story in the movie version (and they did), I still got chills and tears at all the right moments. And I left the theater wanting to both reread the books and do series re-watch.

I don’t know if I’d say that this video is completely accurate, but it’s about as accurate as the movie was.

I can’t wait to see the Hallows again. This time with full sound.

If you saw it – what did you think?

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Last night after a horrific loss at softball we trekked to the usual bar and proceeded to drown our sorrows.

This particular pub is often overrun in the summer with interns, students, and other young DC newbies. And, in the course of our drowning, we met one such newbie who eventually told his name was Steve.

No,” BNF said. “I’m not going to call you that. I’m going to call you Jor-El.

Jor-El was a pretty good sport, so he went along with it. Embraced it even. (By the end of the night, even the other guys in his program were calling him by the new nickname.) And then he played along with BNF’s next game.

We’re not going to tell you our names. You just tell us what you think we look like. First name that comes to your mind.

And that’s how I became a Jessica.

(Later he dubbed me Jezebel. I’m honestly not sure which I prefer.)

Now, before I get yelled at, I don’t have a problem with the name – for other people. But for me, after 26 years of identifying as something completely different, it just felt all sorts of wrong.

I’ve been toying for a while with the idea of putting my real name out here on the blog. I’m sure it’s probably dropped at some point and I’m friends with several bloggers on Facebook (and real life!) so I know that it’s not a complete secret.

But I figure there’s no time like a) my 500th post! today! and b) after being called the wrong name all night to officially reveal it.

So, hi! I’m Elizabeth.

Not Jezebel.

And definitely not Jessica.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Dear Brian Wilson,

You kind of ruined the All-Star Game for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy about the National League win. I like to think that it will come in handy for my Phillies later on down the road. You know, if I made predictions or anything.

But seeing you on camera kind of put a damper on the evening because – gee, how do I put this nicely – you look disgusting. Your beard is awful.

And you should know that I’m generally a huge fan of facial hair. Even unkempt facial hair.

Case in point:

So, maybe I’m still bitter about the 2010 NLCS. And maybe I haven’t forgiven you (or Uribe, or the Panda, or Cody Ross) and that’s coloring my judgment, but your beard still grosses me out.

You know that commercial where it shows what’s living in there? I fear that it might actually be accurate (not the dancers, maybe, but some living organism).

Because I’m such a helpful person, I’d like to offer up a couple solutions to this problem.

1) Get rid of the beard. It’s not often you’ll hear me say that, so take it to heart.

2) Just stop pitching. Quit the Giants (you’ll be better off) and go take up another hobby. A private hobby. Once you’re out of the spotlight, I’m sure this will be less of an issue.

You don’t have to let me know what you’ve decided. I’m pretty smart. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

For now, I’m just counting my blessings that I don’t have to see the beard in person. I might actually vomit.

Do the right thing, Brian.

Still hating you and your 2010 Giants,


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