Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Summer Camp

A few bright spots appeared in my employment doldrums recently.

Yesterday, I was called to substitute teach for the first time. I registered as a sub a few months back but haven't really made the calls necessary to solicit work, because honestly, I was scared witless. I can count the number of days I've spent at a public school on one hand. But for whatever reason, Houston Elementary noticed my name on the very bottom of the list, and it happened to be one of the two days I'm not at SMC. Scared or not, I was not about to turn them down. It was kindergarten. Not so bad, especially as my friend Grace has been doing a lot of kindergarten subbing lately and always has good things to say about it.

I put up my bravest, most self-assured front when I got to the school the school, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. When I got to the classroom, though, I started to panic a little. "Where's the teacher's desk?" I asked the secretary. She unocked a tiny office in which the desk was tucked out of the way. "Oh. Well, where does she teach from?" "Oh, she has rotating centers." Ok, centers, like Montessori or something. I think I can handle that, as long as I have some kind of lesson plan.

"Lesson plan? Oh dear, I don't see it..." She shuffles around the room. I start to break a sweat. "She must have left it with Brenda." Turns out, Brenda was the teacher's assistant. A most wonderful, competent, knowing, take-charge teacher's assistant. She was what saved my bacon. I got through the day with a small measure of grace, basically just asking Brenda and doing whatever she told me to do. The kids, though a little naughty, were adorable and kept hugging me and saying "I love you Ms. Anthony!" At the end of the day Brenda thanked me, said I was wonderful and that she wants me back. Oh, blessings from Heaven! It could have been such a nightmare!

Today, my boss told me I am on the top of the list for summer hours. Things are looking bright for next year too. I took a look at SMC's summer calendar and confronted the stretches of time the library won't be open. Two weeks in May. Not too bad, if I can just squeeze all my bills into that first paycheck, I'll call it an unpaid vacation. Enough leftover for gas, and I might could pack a few sandwiches and go on an adventure.

Then there are the entire months of July and August. What will I do in the middle of the summer? Who hires people in the summer? I don't know where the idea came from but suddenly it was there in front of me, plain as day. Summer Camp!

It's perfect.

It's only for the summer months, lots of fresh air, quality kid time, and room and board all paid for! Sure, it's not a lot of money, the living conditions can be rough, and you have little down time. But it's such an adventure!

I've been wanting to travel and do something entirely on my own. Isn't this what people my age do? I could go to Alaska! Oregon! Practically anywhere! Plus, I'm way qualified with plenty of kid experience and handy skills to teach. Music, macrame, knitting, you name it.

I spent a couple of hours today surfing campstaff.com and campchannel.com. The only hitch is convincing them that I'm worth hiring after the first session is over, since most sessions start in June. But surely, of the hundreds out there, someone will think I have enough to offer even starting late. I feel like it's actually attainable, worth the effort of filling out dozens of applications.

So now I'm feeling really good. The stress and desperation that surrounds most of my job hunting effort is nowhere in sight. I feel like I can breathe a little easier. I feel like it's where I belong.

Of course I can't breathe too easy until I actually land a summer camp job. I'm rolling up my sleeves.

Postscript. I finished the Root article. Whew. And the Sonny's job fell through, for the two of you who might have been curious.

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