camp is OVER+back in LA

Its hard to believe that its been a month-ish since my last post, but given how busy I had been and how exhausting camp was, maybe its not toooo hard to believe. As the post title says, camp is over and I am back in LA to rest up for 2 weeks before heading back to Berkeley and starting school again.

So, how was camp?!?!? It was…exciting, exhilarating, energetic, exhausting, tiring, fun, fantastical, and overall one of the best things I could have done this summer. So much so, that I have plans to go back next summer. What made it so awesome? Well, several things, but first and foremost, the people. My lead instructor and the other assistant in our classroom got along very well, with our strengths and weaknesses balancing out very nicely. The camp director was very supportive and always enthusiastic letting us step into more leadership roles as camp wore on. The kids were fun too, mostly. I enjoyed running around with them, playing pretend games, dressing up, singing songs, and just being silly without a care in the world. It was interesting to see a group of campers come in on monday quite shy and timid, and be so rowdy by friday that it was hard to contain their energy in the classroom. As the weeks carried on, we got more proficient in running the classroom and tailoring the ridiculously complex curriculum into the time and space that we had.

Some highlights: I was dubbed “chef random” because of all the random things I say and my sarcasm in the classroom. One kid told me I was the “most awesome person he ever met and ever would” (PS I wanted to take this kid home with me). 2 kids named their signature dishes after me. Another group used my pink hair as inspirations. I put together 2 skits: the first included dumping flour all over us and the second included juggling with eggs [both of these were for the circus]. I led a camp-wide YMCA flash mob. I got to play with giant bubbles.

They days were long, I would often leave home at 6:40 and not come back until 5:30 or 6 PM and pass out by 10. The weekends were a nice break to gather myself together again, but not very many adventures were had because I was usually pretty worn. I did however go to Pride in SF, hike the big C, eat at Souley Vegan, Homeroom, and Ethiopian, bike the marina, bike the golden gate, check out Saul’s deli and off the grid, have a kickback at my house, and go to art murmer.

My last weekend in Berkeley consisted of my parents coming up and venturing to SF for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at SFMOMA. It was beautiful, creative, dark, colorful, whimsical, erotic, and everything in between. I wanted some of the stuff I saw.

My plans for the next 2 weeks include sleeping and doing as little as possible because once school starts its back to the grind and I am not looking forward to it one bit. Can I just go back to camp instead??


4th of july fail+surprises

yes, it was the fourth yesterday. I did not have major plans, but was hoping to see fireworks from all over berkeley and oakland while perched atop Grizzly Peak with a friend. So, we pack some beer, bus up the mountain, and climb up some more, find a nice bench aka some fallen trees and take in the awesome view. The sun begins to set and the temperature grows progressively colder. We tell ourselves to suck it up through the next hour as our limbs (or mine at least) start to loose sensation (I exaggerate a bit). We notice some fog rolling in, and try not to think much of it. That proves to be difficult because in the span of 5 minutes the entire hillside is covered with fog and the view which was oh so glorious is now non existent. And being able to see fireworks…forget it. We can hear them faintly in the distance. We sadly put together our belongings and walk down the fog covered hill. It was very creepy I will not lie. Upon descending, we went below the fog cover and could see the city again, plus it was slightly warmer so we perched ourselves on a hillside to watch a few of the shows. It was pretty neat to see lots of shows from all over the city and over the marina. However, I think my personal preference is to see one show, but up close, so you can hear it and feel the reverberations in your chest.

Two awesome surprises. First off, a care package from my mom which contained 2 deliciously scented vanilla candles and a baking sheet. I broke in said baking sheet by making…kale chips!!!! The easiest and most delicious delicacy its a pity I have not made them before (wash it, tear it, S&P it,1 Tb of olive oil it, bake it, eat it) I promptly bought another bunch of kale too. I over salted it just a bit, but it was no catastrophe as I still managed to down the entire batch.
Second surprise is a visitor.

first week of work and adventures in SF

Week one of work at camp is DOWN! and I have definitely had loads of fun, felt exhausted and exhilarated and accomplished, been very sore (like ballet sore), met some great kids, played lots of games, sang songs, skipped a lot, went on a slip and slide, ate tons of chocolate and candy (I mean, I am teaching just desserts), nearly cried seeing what some of the kids created, met some interesting parents, and learned a thing or two about myself. I love the camp environment. I can really just be a goofball without anybody judging or caring because everyone else is doing the exact same thing. I am more outspoken and have noticed myself taking authority and leadership. Its hard though, because I don’t generally like telling people what to do, but part of working with coworkers as a team is giving and getting direction. Despite my title as “assistant instructor”, in the classroom there is really no divide between the roles because we all do the same amount of cooking, cleaning, planning and teaching.

The kids at camp are an interesting population to work with. They all come from wealthier backgrounds and are materially very comfortable and well off. But because of this, many kids have extraordinarily high expectations placed on them by their parents and must perform at high standards. some of them I have noticed, completely forgot how to just relax and be a kid and make mistakes and get messy. Also, some of these kids get dropped off at camp in the AM, stay all day, and are picked up by nannies. For some reason that makes me suspicious of how involved their parents are. One girl looked like she was about to cry when her mom didn’t show up for the guardian gathering and presentation on friday. Many are preoccupied with looks and material culture and the role of camp is to promote the exact opposite of this. So even though I am working with a very privileged population that may have everything, I still feel like I am impacting some of these kids because they see its OK to be a grown up child. At least, I hope.

There were several girls who I really enjoyed seeing every morning and joking with them and I am a bit sad that I wont see them again. I really hope they turn out OK. Weeklong sessions are so short but its amazing how fast these kids opened up and felt comfortable around us. I have this upcoming week off which is very nice, but I also would have liked working. Camp enrollment is very low this week due to the holiday, so staffing is also down. That means I have a week to work on my “to do” list and read and maybe start prepping some stuff for AltBreaks next year.

Now…onto more fun stuff like adventures in SF!!!!
1) Pride on Saturday was very fun. I did not go on Sunday to the parade as it was the day before I started work. We spend the day poking around the vendors and booths, drinking and eating items like chocolate covered bananas. After, we stopped at Smugglers Cove in SF, a rum based pirate themed bar, where I proceeded to carry on a rather interesting conversation with a guy sitting at the bar who is working his way through over 100 types of rum that they sell. Thats a lot of rum.

2) Biking the golden gate is adventure number two. it was…epic. The morning was a bit delayed as we had to get air in our tires. Finally at the bart station and there are people on the track causing a 40 minute delay and halting all trains. My friend also managed to pop the tube of his tire on our way to the bart station so that had to be repaired. We made it into the city around 2 and began to ride around the embarcadero. We pit stopped for some bread at Boudin Bakery. Look at the cute little sourdough turtles! Eating the head with olive eyes was totally worth the 4.50 spent.

we were walking at munching on bread and meandered to the arcade museum where they have games and displays from decades and decades ago. I scrounged up some change to see the toothpick carnival in action and have a go at the…sex-o-meter. As you can see, I am “hot stuff”
We hopped back on our bikes to continue along the wharf, through crissy field and onto the bridge. It was extraordinarily foggy, as in you could hardly see the bridge from below or the view of the surrounding bays. but hearing the various ships honk through the fog was pretty cool. Biking on the bridge such a cool experience. The suspension cables were bigger than my arm. They also have “emergency phones and crisis counseling” booths along the side of the bridge with signs waring about the dangers of jumping. Its really sad to think that things like that happen and I wonder how many people those booths have helped. my hope is more rather than less. here are a few photos:

The other side of the bridge was a bit more sunny then the SF side, but still windy. We looked around at the views before turning around to bike back. After the crossing we took a scenic route (aka asked someone where the path we were on lead to) and rode through the presidio and by the palace of fine arts where the exploratorium is. I remember coming here when I was small, but even though I am bigger now, the dome is still friggin HUGE! (you know how sometimes you remember the enormousness of something but its not that big you are just really little? did not happen here). we also saw the CUTEST baby swans sitting and preening their molting feathers. 

Being slightly hungry after all this biking, we stopped at a little mexican joint by the wharf where I proceeded to consume a huge veggies only quesadilla that was more burrito like in size and shape. satisfied and burping salsa, we biked back to the embarcadero station and into rockridge. The epic journey deserved a drink, so in order to get through another item on my “list” we went to the kingfish pub in the temescal part of oakland. Its small, cozy, in a little shack that looks like a wind might knock it over. Its been there since 1922 and they have had some problems with leases and such, but its still standing! Its an awesome joint, and you can order food from the seafood/ethiopian place across the street. double props for that. 
I came home that night and fell asleep in about 2 seconds. mission accomplished indeed!