Friday, March 21, 2008

What’s fun what’s great? Is it maybe…could it be…would it, should it be…EC08!

Once again I’ve turned the English Camp (EC) cheer into a post title. I know everyone has been dying to know about how English Camp went. First I ominously declared my fear, and then I prematurely posted a national day of mourning because I’d be away on the actual day. So all of you probably thought I was off depressing everyone and fearing everything in a paranoid fashion. But you’ll be relieved to know I didn’t thought my fears were confirmed (EC is not the place to go if I want to pretend my past doesn’t exist. EC is that part of my past). But I had a great time anyway. And I made a few friends along the way. And now because people keep asking me about camp I’ve decided to give you an in depth couple of blog posts about English Camp. Why a couple? Because I have two things I want to blog about, and to do both together would make one disturbingly long post. First, in this post I’d like to blog about what happened. And, secondly, I’d like to blog about my thoughts about what happened. And because I like to be honest (and because I believe no one who went to EC reads my blog) I will be completely honest. Because, unlike everyone else, I like to keep my head during camp and look at things objectively, without the haze of sleep deprivation, loud music, and fast paced everything. And also, I take notes! I wrote 14 notes in my phone concerning EC, and I also grabbed all 4 editions of the “English Camp Tribune”. So I’ll try to use these things to keep me accurate as much as possible.
Day 1, March 17, 2008 I showed up an hour early because I came from Tallinn rather than coming from Tartu with everyone else. This gave me a chance to stand around and look cool and occasionally introduce myself to one of the Americans or say, “Hi” to an old acquaintance. One highlight was seeing Eva again. She was the person who taught me my first Estonian (“Minu nimi on” which I confused and said “Nimu mini on” to her great enjoyment), and now here I was translating…but I’ll get to that later. She was very impressed with my Estonian, and I was happy about that. Before I continue allow me to just say that I’ve just realized that in a way this camp brought a lot things full circle for me. I’ll point out full circle moments whenever I can. This is one of them, the women who taught me my first Estonian I now conversed with fluently. That’s special.

Then the other students arrived and we all got started right away with meeting our groups and starting “The Great Game” which was basically just a couple of games to help us get to into a group spirit with our groups. My two group leaders were Josh Postlewait and Jon Herman, and my fellow group members were Kertu and Anna-Maria, who was really cute in my opinion, but as you’ll see later I thought most every girl was cute. We played a game were we had to run across the gym, spell a word, then run back. Then we played a game where one of us was a blindfolded ninja/samurai with a balloon sword and had t defend the 3 clothes pins stuck on our backs. It was quite difficult for both parties. Then we played a game where we each held ropes to make a human rope and had to make a knot in it. I’d never been able to complete this game before, but this time we totally got it. Then we went and registered and I got a cool brown “EC’08” hoody.

After that was the first main meeting. We played “Knight, Horseman, Cavalier” which is an EC tradition that I normally don’t like because I’m not really strong enough to hold people up. This game wasn’t so bad, but once again I got out because Edgar tried to jump into my arms and I couldn’t really hold him up. My wrist was killing me for a while after that. But later Edgar and I had the following conversation while walking,Both of us had been laughing at one of my jokes then Edgar said “What’s your name? Chris? You know Chris, you’re pretty funny.”“Of course I am,” I replied “laughing burns calories, and it’s my job to make sure everyone stays skinny and sexy”After some more laughing he said “Chris, let’s be friends.”“Sure” I replied.And that started the odd pairing of two misfits sticking together in the fight against the so called, “Cool” people. That’s actually truly what made him my friend. He asked me if I knew when there was going to be football (soccer) in the gym and I replied I didn’t know. Then I pointed to someone I knew would know, one of the popular guys who I wouldn’t go ask myself because I’m sworn to avoid them, but would send another guy too because I’m sadistic like that. But before Edgar even knew my feelings on the subject he flat out refused. And when I asked why he told me it was because he didn’t like the guy. When I told him I didn’t like him either some high-fiving ensued and that was when we truly started hanging out. As I said, we were both misfits. I’ve never really understood why I’m a misfit. I’ll probably figure it out while writing the post about my thoughts and feelings. But Edgar was a misfit because he was loud, awkward, and kind of a jerk. He also wasn’t fond of showering. He was a typical Russian, as I found out when he showed several character flaws at once by calling me a jerk when I said he was Estonian. Sorry I got sidetracked there, but I thought it was important to talk about Edgar, because we hung out quite a bit simply because neither of us had anyone else. Maybe that’s why I’m a misfit, because I don’t mind the other misfits. I actually think they’re cooler than the “cool” guys…

Anyway, main meeting. Liis, who invited, begged, and talked me into coming to English Camp came halfway through the meeting because she’d had exams in Tartu and had to come later. She then commenced ignoring me for the rest of the camp (“I only begged you to come because we needed more people, I didn’t really want to see you.” Don’t worry Liis, you’ll have a place in my thoughts and feelings post). Craig, the awesome leader and main speaker of EC talked about the definition of a hero (having clarity and an irresistible urge to act) and then we went to small groups and discussed what makes a hero. Then during free time I went swimming for the first time in forever. It felt so good. I would have stayed in the pool forever, but it was crowded, and nobody I knew hung out in the pool, I’m not the strongest swimmer anyway. I really prefer just standing next to the pool and looking sexy, something I excel at. The only interesting thing that happened in the pool was that the life guards were very upset that we weren’t wearing speedo bathing suits. So there was tons of discussion and negotiation about that and we were finally not kicked out. I love Estonia, but I’ll never be European enough to wear a speedo bathing suit. I’d rather just go naked. And I would have if they said I couldn’t swim in my normal bathing suit. That swimming felt so good. But I didn’t stay in long, I got bored, and the cool people were monopolizing the area and forgetting my existence again. So I left soon after. Then I did something very stupid, I hung my wet towel over the bottom of my bed, and my wet bathing suit over my pillow. That night my pillow was soaked and I had to sleep curled up to avoid the wetness at my feet. Quite an interesting experience. Then I just hung out, wishing Liis would stop ignoring me and trying to get in on some of the games. I think I played some Slap Uno, but I don’t remember. Then came the best part ever…

Dancing! Another EC tradition that I don’t much like. Only this was great. Normally I step on the girls feet, and confuse the dances, and do horrible. But this time I danced perfectly almost the whole time. It’s the type of big group dances where you switch partners all the time, so I danced with every girl at EC. Those that remembered the last dance with me at the last EC grimaced when they saw it was their turn with me. But they all left smiling. I felt so proud of myself. I danced with every girl. And we all danced well. It was great. I was especially happy that I danced perfectly with Mariliis, my first Estonian crush, who I always did worst with before because I’d always been so nervous. But more on her later. It was during the dancing that I had some revelations. First of all I realized that the girls liked dancing with me. I’m a better dancer now, and I’m better looking. I was very happy about this. Some girls seemed to look forward to dancing with me. We’d switch partners, they’d see it was me and flash me a huge smile. And I always smiled at them. It was here, while exchanging smiles that I got my second revelation. That girl had the most beautiful smile I had seen in a long time. I saw that smile and my heart melted. Her name was Kelli, and we will definitely her more about her later. The other revelation I had was that I wanted to learn to dance. To really dance. I’m sure Anneli could teach me, but when I told her I think she thought I was joking. But it’s only thanks to her that I dance as well as I do. So I’ll have to keep pursuing the issue until Anneli and I are dancing together. Dancing was actually loads of fun. I’d love to do it again. The only part I didn’t like was when we did the polka dance. When I ended up partnered with Liis for a minute she was spinning so crazily that she threw me into another pair of dancers. But we were all dancing so close that Liis and I weren’t the only ones. Then after that I forced myself on Liis and made her hang out with me in the café, even if it made her look less “cool” to sit next to me while playing Slap Uno and other card games. Then at midnight we both went to bed. Not together of course, though that might have made the night more interesting. Due to interesting developments we both slept without a pillow. As I already explained, mine was soaked. And she offered hers up to the greater good when someone had to sleep on the floor.

Day 2, March 18, 2008 So after sleeping like a log I woke up at 8 so as to go to “Good morning sunshine”, which was devotions. This was non mandatory, and mostly just for the Christians. I just remembered that I still haven’t explained what EC really is. It’s a chance to practice your English. But it’s also an outreach. You’ll get more on my feelings about the outreach in the other post. So after making myself beautiful for the day I went to devotions and had a good time. Then after breakfast we had the next main meeting and Craigilicious Craig talked about having clarity in everyday situations and we also played the Body Part Matchup game. I’m glad I got out relatively early because matching body parts with one of the less young American women was rather awkward. And as always, the longer you stay in the game the worse the matchups get. Thank God I was out before tongue to cheek! Then there was free time again and because I wasn’t swimming one of the girls borrowed my bathing suit. I never actually got to see her in it or even talk to her because she asked me through another guy. But whatever, at least my bathing suit got more excitement than I ever do. Instead of swimming I played different card games in the café, mostly Slap Uno again (my hands got pretty scratched up) but also some Rocks. Rocks was really Spoons, but because we didn’t have spoons we called it Rocks and played with rocks. In the next main meeting Craig talked about making the right decision at the right time, and we played Titanic. I got out really fast so it kind of sucked. But it was fun watching everyone have to fall on the ground when the leader yelled “Jellyfish!” One interesting thing that happened this day was that our group absorbed another group because the other group had fewer people and also needed language help. So guess who ended up translating…ME!

I was the official Estonian to English translator for our group. Kertu handled most of the English-Estonian translation when it was needed though. It was actually interesting because the two people who were missing from the group ended up coming anyway so we ended up having 4 leaders and 6 students. Our 2 new leaders were Tom Hlad and Chris Kelly. Our new group members were Aleena, who was kind of cute despite the facial piercings and who I became friends with, Mereliin, who I tried to pair up with in self defense lessons (more on that later) and was also quite cute, and Allar (the only other guy), who needed most of the translation.
After small groups was more free time, and I spent an hour playing some Estonian card game I never quite figured out. Then was movie time. There were 3 options, Shrek, The Singing Revolution, or Kingdom of Heaven. Shrek we’d all seen too much. So it was out. The Singing Revolution is awesome, and should have won. But in the end Kingdom of Heaven won by 1 vote. I tried to watch Kingdom of Heaven but I just couldn’t handle it. More on that in my feelings/thoughts post. So instead I want in the hallway and played Phase 10 with some cute girls, one of them Mariliis, my first Estonian crush. It was nice to have a chance to talk to her. We didn’t talk much, but I’ll take whatever treasure I can get. Then at 1 A.M. we finished up and I hit the hay. I was tired and had lost Phase 10 because of my tiredness. I slept well, and this time nothing was wet, though now my pillow smelled bad. I don’t know if it stunk because of the water or if it just always stunk. But I just gave up on a pillow and didn’t use one anymore.

Day 3, March 19, 2008 I woke up for devotions and once I was ready for the day had a good morning. At the next main meeting we played Bear, Hunter, Ninja which was a pretty good Rock, Paper, Scissors type game. Then we had that “Eating a banana through pantyhose” game which always grosses me out beyond belief. Thank God I didn’t play. I was happy during this meeting that I sat with Kelli because it meant I got to see her face light up and hear her explosive laugh every time I’d make a little joke. Then Craig talked about fear, a serious topic that I seriously needed to hear about. As you’ll remember I was very afraid of going to EC in the first place. But Craig reminded me that my past is basically nothing more than a story now, and it can’t hurt me or stop me unless I let it. I shed a lot of fear that day, it was really good. Thank you Craig. After that we had some good discussion in small group and after that during free time there were Self Defense lessons which were great. If any of you ever tries to strangle me or grab me from behind you are so dead. And also I learned some Judo, which was kind of awkward, because or the Judo part I tried to partner with Mereliin, who was a rather fragile baby faced girl, and was absolutely terrified at the idea of having to flip me or be flipped by me. And I was absolutely terrified of having to flip her and hurting her. So then we switched partners and I got another girl, who I didn’t know. But it was still awkward. Especially because she was better at flipping me then I was at flipping her. And then when we learned the next part of the move it got even more awkward because after flipping your partner onto their back you had to pin their head with your legs and then bring their arm up between your legs. VERY AWKWARD! So we each only did it once. And I was also freaked out when the leader told us to please be careful doing this move because we could easily break each others arms if we followed through with the pulling the arm between the legs thing. That was scary. I was just as scared breaking my partner’s arm as my own. But we were both okay. But I still wish I could have partnered with someone else. But whatever.

After that I finished free time by playing Phase 10 with my all time favorite girl ever, Kelli. Of course there other players, but no one else mattered. It was great sitting next to her and chatting. And lighting up her beautiful face again…and again…and again. It was very funny that just like Edgar she just came right out and told me what I already know, “Chris, you’re a pretty funny guy” when I told her she was the second person to tell me that Aleena, who was sitting on my other side and was probably my second favorite girl joined in too and told me I’m a pretty funny guy. So now I did a little victory dance because I had 3 people tell me I was funny and then girls both laughed. I was in my zone. It was paradise for me. There is no place I’d rather be than with girls who I liked and who like me and all of us laughing. Nothing better. But what goes up must come down. Not that I came down. Just free time ended. But I was happy with the promise that we would continue the game later. Kelli wasn’t done and neither was I. After that was main meeting. We played Plains, Trains, and Automobiles, a game similar to Knight, Horseman, Cavalier. Then, because the theme of EC was Heroes, Craig talked about his hero, Jesus. After that we had some interesting discussion in small group. Then we had more free time and I stayed up until 3:30 A.M. playing two games of Phase 10 with Kelli. She won both games. The sun may have gone down, but her smile was bright enough. I went to bed that night feeling exhausted but happy.

Day 4, Final day, March 20, 2008 I woke up this morning knowing it would be the last time I ever see most of the people. We had devotions, then breakfast, then the final main meeting. Craig said a nice goodbye, and the best part, believe it or not, was Knight, Horseman, Cavalier. Why was it so great? Well, I was doing pretty good, and then I heard the dreaded cry “Cavalier!” I frantically looked around for the smallest and lightest person I could find. But instead I found Mariliis. Mariliis is tall, and but she’s also very fit. She was the perfect weight. She jumped into my arms and I lifted her up and held her close as she put her arms around my neck. I felt extremely awesomely manly and cavalier. Here I was holding a beautiful woman in my arms. I was so happy. And I didn’t drop her! I guess the proper thing to do at this point was to kiss her. But even though I was over tired I wasn’t that tired. I hadn’t taken leave of my senses yet. It was only 30 seconds, but those seconds with Mariliis were great. It was at that moment that I knew that since my last EC I’d made the transition from a boy to a man. And the fact that Mariliis picked me…This camp was amazing for my self esteem. After that we took pictures with our small group and had fun until it was time to leave. The best part was talking with Kelli after the main meeting. We had been standing about 10 feet from each other and the “I like to move it” song from Madagascar was playing and so we kept doing different funny moves at each other until we were standing in front of each other, and then at the same time, without talking about it or knowing at all we both did the same move. My signature move that normally only I do. That thing were you hold your nose and go down while waving your hand, kinda like you’re swimming or something. Ask me to show you next time you see me. We both did that at the same time and burst out laughing. Then I asked if she had FaceBook, or MySpace, or anything. But all she had was Orkut. So now I have no choice but to go on Orkut all the time now. So I guess I’m on Orkut now too.

Anyway, now I’m back from EC. But more on that in my thoughts/feelings stuff. Which I’m too tired to write now, so I’ll try to write tomorrow. No, I WILL write tomorrow. But for now I must go. I’m tired. And now you all know what I did at camp, so you don’t need to ask. Cya!


Matt said...

I think I was playing video games in my basement from March 17 to March 20th. Guess which one of us had a better time! (Hint: The one who hung out with girls)

Kapten Clark said...

My memory of the Eva story is that you said something like "eenie-meenie-miney-moe" instead of "minu nimi on"!

The way you keep referring to M. as your first Estonian crush reminds me of how the Bible always adds after Judas's name "the one who betrayed Jesus."


Chris said...

Just so everyone reading this knows, when my mother refers to M. she refers to Mariliis. When I refer to "M." I refer to the most horrible girl on the planet. They're different people, just in case you were wondering. And I resent tha Judas thing...