The Saddest Night for Smiles

At our camp, the Sunday in the middle of each two-week session is the day when campers’ parents come to visit their precious little babies. Bringing them clean laundry only to leave then a few hours later in tears. And as a counselor, this is both the best and worst day of camp.

It’s the best because as an overworked counselor, you get a break from your crazy campers and can relax at The Oasis. Worst, because as soon as you get back to the camp it’ll be the cry-fest. You can almost hear the hyperventilation of eighty-five campers as they watch their parent’s station wagons drive off into the distance.

Worst.

The rest of this day usually consists of finger painting on picnic tables, where come campers can literally generate enough tears to wash the glitter paint from their sticky little hands. But although finger painting is an amazing distraction, it doesn’t last forever. And after a tear filled dinner, we send the kids off to their cabins to relax and hang out while us counselors plan what we call “Happy Evening”.

Happy Evening (Веселий Вечір): a night where counselors organize themselves in different comical skits, poking fun at themselves and pulling pranks on each other dressed as various characters. Always ending in an outrageously hideously styled fashion show.

As a counselor, this is the time when you’re expected to embrace your most wacky-self bringing it out in its entirety. You don’t just do it for the kids. You do it for yourself, because a happy camper at bedtime makes a happy counselor in the morning, and at this point it’ll be looking like the most devastatingly sad bedtime.

After rounding up the the teary-eyed campers and filing them into the dining hall the lights go out and the show begins. Counselors dressed as “hosts” emerge from the kitchen, introducing themselves as Ivan and Igor with generously painted on unibrows and face moles.

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If you’re one of the “hosts”, its all on you to get these kids laughing. Get them playing some kind of hilarious game, tell them a story or pull pranks on them. A personal favourite is the toilet prank. With this one, you have a few (usually 3-4) people step out of the room, while they’re out of hearing distance explain to the rest of the group that the others don’t know that they’re pretending to be on a toilet – it’s important that the others don’t hear this detail. When they return to the room (one at a time) have them act out being on a motorcycle, rollercoaster or rocket-ship. They’ll be making all kinds of noises and doing some pretty weird actions, but without knowing that the audience thinks they’re on a toilet.

Hilarious.

That one never disappoints, and never fails at making kids go from sad-crying to cry-laughing!

As the night goes on, the pranks are pulled and the 80’s Workout Guru’s have come and gone (along with the face-painted gangster grandmas and various other characters) the show comes to a close with the annual fashion show and mini dance-party.At this point, most of the campers will have forgotten all about their parents and scurry off to their bunks. There will sill be a few sad sallies that need some comforting before they go off to bed – after all, there’s nothing that a nice hug and a bedtime story can’t fix.

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