Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A chief in the woods! Working for Eckerd Youth Altenatives at Camp E-Ma-Chamee

What is a Chief?

Somewhere between adolescence and corporate mogul there occurs in human development the age that is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable state know as "Chief, a creature undefined by psychologists, misunderstood by directors, worshipped by campers (whether they admit it or not), admired by parents and unheard of by the rest of society.

A Chief is a rare combination of doctor, lawyer, parents and friend. Chief is a competent child psychologists with textbooks as proof. They are at times under-paid baby-sitter with neither television or refrigerator. They are strict disciplinarians with kids gloves, a minister of man to all faiths with questions about their own. Chief is a referee, coach. teacher and advisor. They are an example of adulthood in worn out boots, a shirt given them and rain gear that just happens to be on someone else. They are humorists in a crisis, a song leader, entertainer and skit directors. They are teacher of the out-of-doors, knee deep in poison ivy.

They dislike wake up, audits and rainy days. They are extremely fond of sunbathing, exploring, playing guitar, and old care named Gertrude and time off. They are good at patching up broken friendships, bloody noses and torn backpacks. Good also at locating lost clothes, fixing broken tools and catching fish. Poor at getting out of bed after a long night, remembering condiments and paperwork.

A chief is a friendly guide on a day trip. They are "all that" on time off. Exhausted when they return but fully recuperated in time for the next TO.
Who but Chief can cure homesickness, air out a UB'd sleeping bag, play 16 games of Chinese numbers, carry two packs, speak igpay atinlay, stand on their head and eat four helpings of chili mac.


A chief is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Billy, turn Bubba into a man, allow Spike to be an individual and help Enos adjust to a group. They are expected to lead them in serious learning and in group games even when their head aches; to teach them to live in the out-of-doors, even though they were raised in metro areas such as Pittsburgh, to teach an indigenous activities, to ensure health and safety, with a sunburn, an ace bandage on their knee and a blister on their heel.

After all of this, they are paid enough to know what they can't afford. You wonder whether they know how much they are worth. And somehow all realize you could never pay them enough as there would never be agreement to their true value.

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