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big lake dream

I’m all tired out just thinking about it. I had a many-hour-long dream (yes, I’d wake up and look at the clock and fall back into the dream) before I woke up about Big Lake. I don’t think I’ve ever written about my actual experience there, so I’ll do that instead of writing about my disturbing dream. The story weighs so heavy on my mind because even after the eventful day, I still cared so much about my job that I would have gone back the next summer and volunteered if they would have me. It was a turning point in my life, and I was more cynical afterwards....

I wrote this for me, and don’t expect anyone to wade through the whole story. It was releasing to my soul to put it down.

BLYC is a summer camp that I woked in the summer I was 16. I was SO excited to be working there, because I’d gone as a camper for the 2 previous years and loved it. There were only 3 or 4 of us that were as young as me, but obviously, they saw something in me when hiring (or remembered me from my volunteer week as a counselor-in-training the summer before). I was hired on as the assistant secretary. A perfect match for my skills. The real secretary, who had done it for 4 years, was going to be a counselor and have her own cabin. I knew more computer-wise than 95% of the staff, and so they were very excited to find this out. (on a black screen with green letters and one software program that I’d never seen... yes, I was a geek at 16, and after 20 minutes of playing, it all made sense to me).

So anyhow, I worked my butt off all summer. They assigned me multiple jobs to fill in for people who were taking days off. They had me helping out as secretary to the other program managers instead of the main secretary. The leader of the camp even went so far as to say that I was one of the 5 most promising employees, and he felt like I would be a leader in the camp someday.

Until that day. That saturday when I was somehow doing Jamie Ann’s job. Jamie was the dining room hostess, and I’d filled in for her in the past. She was in charge of getting the dining room ready for every meal, being there during the meals to make sure any spills, etc. got cleaned up as they happened, and then supervise the kids in cleaning up their areas after the meal so that she could then finish the deep cleaning and mop once a day. It was a big task with a huge diningroom!

So she was gone for the day, and so was my boss, the real secretary. I’m pretty sure I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off at lunch that day because it was a Saturday and they always had nicer food on saturday, and I knew I had a lot to do because I needed to mop that night and still make it to campfire to help with costume changes.

In the middle of lunch, the phone rang. There were only 2 phones on the whole camp, and one was in the office (all the way up the hill from where I was), and one was in the kitchen - which was super hard to hear because when lunch was going on, it was a mad house in there! I just happened to have someone in the kitchen come out to the diningroom floor to tell me the phone was ringing. I went to answer it, and you have to scream into it because they are radio-phones or something such thing because the camp was too far out to get real phone service. A parent told me that they needed to let their daughter know to get on the bus in the morning instead of wait a ride from them, and since there was no paper in the kitchen, I wrote the note on my hand. I was called back into the diningroom, and ran back to do that job. I remember working in there until the very last second before I had to leave and do my help with the campfire costumes, and literally ran down the path to campfire in the dark. After the play, I collapsed into bed.

The next day was when the campers were leaving, and I think I had to help with breakfast in the cafe again becauase Jaime was still off. So after that, I went into the office to get some stuff sorted for the next group of campers. The phone rang a little after noon, and the instant I heard it, tears started coming out of my eyes. Omigoodness, I had forgotton the message. I had needed to come back to the office and find out a cabin number so I could let the girl know, and I never even made it back to the office all day saturday. I was doing 3 peoples jobs, and I had failed at mine. I apologized and apologized, and said I was going to find out from someone else what to do. So I put the person on hold and sat there with tears falling when one of the guys came into the office and saw me crying. He quickly calmed me down, and I called the camp directory on the CB radio at his house to ask him what to do. He took the call and I’m sure he apologized even more, and arranged for the father to come down and pick up his daughter.

I was still sitting there crying, I can remember every second between the time the phone rang and when the CB came back on again. Through my tears, I quickly explained and apologized to the director, saying that I had been doing so many jobs that I just didn’t get that one done, and I realized how important it was, and I felt bad. He yelled at me. This father was a big donor to the Adventist church, and how could I not follow through with the phone message? I had failed and he was going to be doing some serious consideration as to what would happen to my position for the rest of the summer. OVER THE CB! He also admonished me, and told me that I needed to go and explain to the camper, and then wait for the father to come and apologize myself to him in person.

I was petrified. I was a shy 16 year old girl, who was doing her best, but my people skills at that time were not so great, and my stomach turned in knots during the 3 hours that it took for the parent to get there. When he did, I walked the girl out to her car, and carried her suitcases, and used my best formed words to apologize gratefully, and asked him not to hold it against the camp, that it was my mistake. Ya know what he did? He hugged me, and said it was okay. He helped his daughter into the car, and they drove home.

During this time in between, the camp director never came and said anything to me. I did however, have 3 or 4 assistant directors come and see how I was doing, because they heard me being yelled at over the CB.

Towards the end of the day, the director asked me to come down to his house. Again with the petrified stomach butterflies! So I walked quickly down there, and sat at his desk.

I don’t remember the exact words but it went something like this:
"Kristine, we (referring to him and his wife) were really disappointed today."
"I’m really sorry, it was an accident."
"We are going to have to change your position in the camp because of this failure."
"We have a very promising girl who we’d like to see be an asst. camp director in the future, and she should see some of the office workings in preparation."
"But I’ll try to be better, I really like my job."
"We are going to change jobs between you and Amy. You will take over her housekeeping jobs, and do all of the backup costume and props jobs that she was doing."
"All right."
"My wife will go over your new responsibilties with you tomorrow morning."

I had been demoted. Taken from a job I loved and moved into something I hated. One little mistake, and it was the end. But I thought I deserved it.

So the rest of the summer, I spent doing jobs that were very undesirable, while a few staff members knew my computer talents and would sneak me into the office to do their task because Amy had no clue how to do it. I still worked my hardest. I felt it was a justified demotion, and made plans to come back next summer. I cried for hours the last morning of camp. The camp director had hugged me and wished me a wonderful school year and said he looked forward to me coming back next year - he had gotten over the error.

8 months later, I received my letter in the mail. I had been checking the mail so closely every day, to see what position they would be placing me in for the next summer.
First letter said I was going to be the personal secretary to the directors Wife. Wow.
Second letter changed and said I would be working in the kitchen. Eww. But okay, at least I would be there.
Third letter said that due to cutbacks in the staff, my services wouldn’t be needed. A handwritten note from the temporary director, who I had worked with the summer before "I’m really sorry, Kristine - if I could do anything to keep you, I would."

The rumor was that they had found out the director was having an affair, and so they were looking for a new director. The rumor mill also said that they were getting rid of anyone who had worked closely with him in the past.

I was absolutely heartbroken. I wanted nothing else but to work there. I didn’t care if it was doing something crappy that I hated, I loved the camp. I loved the people. I loved the campers. It was a perfect place.

But it was over, and I was done.

Years later, I found out that several other people had similar stories of harsh punishments for things that shouldn’t have been as big of a deal as they were made. Did it ease the pain to know that? Not really, as I still have nightmares that I am back at camp working in a job I don’t like, and with people looking at me funny because they don’t understand why I got to come back.

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