I am not a detail-man.
Honestly, I almost try to NOT plan sometimes. I like unpredictability, spontaneity, and the sudden intrusion of the unknown.
Last night, though, we had a major wrench thrown into the mix. And for the life of me, I wished that I had had a backup plan ready. You see, someone threw away the grab-flags for the Wednesday night game. We probably shouldn’t have stored them in a trash bag.
Now, our Wed. night game is already my least favorite part of the week. It’s called “Space Invaders” and it involves eager campers trying to take flags from the waistbands of fleeing guy counselors for a whole half hour. Nice if you’re in, like, cross-country, but terrible if you’re in the middle of a week of counseling kids.
I mean, there’s honestly no redeeming goal, nor any way to score points back against the campers. The girl counselors can whack kids with funnoodles and send them to “jail” for a short time, but in the end the dudes are literally sprinting cannon fodder for thirty minutes. But since the kids have fun, and since one of the training mottos we use at camp is “It’s not about you,” the guys suck it up and run like champs. And reload flags. And then run some more. It’s an old camp game that legions of men have toughed through for years, and no one’s quite died yet.
But I know that in their heart-of-hearts, the guys don’t look forward to it at all. So after losing the flags, when people started asking what the heck we were going to do, I decided to try and sell it via element of surprise:
“Well, it’s Space Invaders, but I think a bunch of meteors just crashed to Earth! So we’re gonna use ’em to play four-way Space Dodgeball instead!!!” Upon which cue, our Conference Director dumped a bag of deadly foam balls on the middle of the field. I thought it was a genius move, both rewarding counselors and exciting the children.
We don’t allow the guys to throw with their dominant hand in regular dodgeball, because kids get majorly pwned/hurt that way. So when the guys asked if it was true for four-way, and I re-emphasized “no,” I saw faces fall. Nor did it help that I decided to keep the funnoodler girls, since I allowed them to send everyone (guys included) to jail. I’m pretty someone “accidentally” beaned me with a dodgeball for that one.
And throwing against three teams in three directions is super disorienting. For a while, kids were mildly un-engaged and dude staff were visibly bummed. I was pretty sure it was no fun.
In fact, one little boy actually came up to me from jail and leapt onto my torso, growling and poking me in the sides.
“Grrr!” he told me.
“Dude, you can get off,” I responded, wondering if he were too young to be possesed by a demon. I thought that if so, perhaps it was a vengeful demon. I surmised that I probably deserved this vengance for my poor planning and allowed him to keep “Grrr”ing at me until another counselor plucked him off and trotted him back to his soccer goal “prison.”
Desperate to regain the favor of my staff, we then pulled out an old favorite: the Camper-vs-Counselor round. And the counselors circled up to get krunk and stuff. I came over to talk to them.
“Okay. This is a tough night, and honestly, I will probably go find a corner and cry after this is done,” I told them. “But right now, this is for the kids, and as far as they’re concerned, this is the best night of the summer. So even if you have to grit your teeth and fake a smile until you ‘make it,’ play well. And if you win… cool.”
This was met with a little more favor. And the counselors actually won, non-dominant hands and all, by a margin of a single person. In the meantime, I played “Fuzzy Says” with the group of kids who were out, which they actually didn’t mind too much.
I didn’t end up having to cry that night. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and let things… suck. But dang it if I don’t have a list of little back-up plans for the future from here on.