Monday, July 25, 2005

A Week of Stupid Firsts

This is near where we were.

Last week was the English Summer Camp at Jugend- und Feriendorf ERNA e.V. near Papstdorf, not too far from the border with the Czech Republic in the Sächsische Schweiz. It was a cool week, with 13 kids from a school in Dresden. These kids have just finished the 5th grade, and have had one year or more of English in school already, which is standard in Germany. Most start learning English in the 5th grade, if not earlier. This was not an official school event, but the idea of one motivated father of a student at the school. So in total, the organizers were 2 dads and me. It was a lot of work, we spent many hours planning the week and developing materials, but it was worth it. The kids are really interested and excited and incredibly bright. The crowning achievement of the week was a performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in English, with the play adapted by me and songs composed by one of the dads. Very cool, the kids loved it. We had about 60 spectators from the camp and a few parents even came out.
Snow White is dead!

Though it was a successful week, some really stupid stuff happened. For example, on Tuesday during play practice, I had the bright idea to get up on a chair to take a picture of the kids. The trouble was, it was a 3-legged stool which I climbed upon, and on which I promptly lost my balance, making a graceful fall to the floor right over 2 other stools. I crashed onto the cement floor, scraping my hand and getting some really wild big bruises on my legs from the other stools that cushioned my fall.

The rest of my bruises come from climbing through various windows of my bungalow. There was only one key to each bungalow, and it was so much easier to just climb through a window than go running around the camp searching for the key. The one window that was usually open was the one to the men’s restroom (there was only one man in the bungalow, and he usually had the key, so no worries of jumping through the window of an occupied toilet), but the trouble was that it was sort of high. So, we needed to get one of the famed 3-legged stools to climb through. Fortunately, no one fell, and the kids extended their general knowledge-how to climb through a window into an otherwise locked building-a useful life skill.

Another really stupid first of the week was being served turkey as a “vegetarian” meal. What vegetarian eats turkey? The next day I got a piping hot plate of mashed potatoes and fish sticks. I just gave up at this point, gave the kids my food, and asked if I could just have some mashed potatoes. The really funny thing is that, while the vegetarian food was not at all vegetarian, the non-veg food was amazingly 100% lacking in meat. Huh.

And the final first of the week was not at all stupid. It made the whole week okay! I returned from the forest on Saturday at 5:58 p.m. at the central station here in Dresden, and a friendly motorcycle rider came to pick me up (in a car, of course). I was stinky and tired and so happy to be back, and we went to my place, got the mail, came up the newly painted staircase (it took the painters months to paint my landing, now the other 4 floors have all been painted with the first coat in a week!), got to my familiar door, went in, put down my bags, and on the first look into the living room-“oooh!” My apartment had been strewn with rose petals, 2 bouquets of roses were awaiting me, as was a chilled bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate. Not bad. I should go away more often!

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