This past week, we Americans really did manage to steal the spotlight. Despite being out of our native country during the most patriotic holiday of the year: the Fourth of July, we were still determined to bring some American pride to Binzago. From playing American Football to coloring and hanging up American flags and singing the National Anthem in front of the entire camp, we felt the only thing that was missing was the fireworks show!
Personally, I oversaw the Ultimate Frisbee game and then led a station for creating and decorating paper airplanes. The kids really seemed to enjoy such a creative activity enough for me to do it twice, with the second time bringing the heartwarming realization that one of the kids had brought his own paper airplane book full of designs to share with the group.
Adding this to the list of ongoing events that have been giving me a rewarding sense of satisfaction, I am prouder than I probably should be to say that my basketball team is now 2-0 under my coaching supervision. At this point during the course of the camp, the Italian animatores not only permit me to coach the squad, but even seem to take it as a given that I will be on sidelines when it is our squad’s turn to play. I would say that, given my record, they hardly have any reason to complain anyway!
The other occurrence that transpired this week was more of a change in one of the procedures of the camp than a change in the camp itself. However, it was something that had initially bothered me quite a lot, but that I had given up for a lost cause during the beginning days of the camp. The change involved the method in which we serve lunch to the campers. Previously, all the counselors endured the laborious process of taking trays holding plates of food to each of the individual tables, all the while ignoring the pleas of other kids sitting adjacently. This, however, not only took an excessive amount of time, but also manufactured several points of failure in the process such as accidentally skipping over tables or individual kids, as well as having to figure out if some of the kids were actually waiting to be fed or if they were simply trying to glean a second plate.
In one of the first days at the camp, I pointed out some of these inefficiencies, which every other American also noticed and was flummoxed by. I then offered the simple solution of having the kids come up to the serving station table by table to be served whichever dish they preferred so they could then return to their tables and peacefully eat and clean up after themselves. However, for whatever number of given excuses, it seemed this change was not to be, as it remained this way for the first three weeks.
However, for reasons I have yet to divine, the camp leaders casually decided to change this format and implement that model which I had roughly outlined. All us Americans were resigned to sit back in amazement at the sight of there being a change toward efficiency, especially since we had surrendered this point of strife as an unwinnable battle and accepted our fates as harassed waiters for children. However, after some simple supervision and ‘line-security management’ on my part, it was visibly much more efficient and much less of a stress on all parties involved. Suffice to say that this felt like a big win for us, even if no one would give us the credit for having masterminded the process itself.
I suppose if I had to extract a theme from the events of this week, I would say that one should continually try to apply one’s self to something they know they can improve and make a positive difference in. Even if there are frustrating obstacles in the way that are sometimes hard to make sense of, whether they be cultural barriers or otherwise, it is important to continue try your best to better a situation and make the best of what you are given.