Despite not being at the camp on Monday because I was returning from Rome (which was its own misadventure of conductor strikes and broken-down trains), our last week at the oratorio in Binzago still felt very full of activity. However, since we were resolute to go out every night for our last week, you will have to bear with me as I struggle to piece together all the somewhat hazy memories.
Since it was the last week in the camp, all of the ongoing sports tournaments were coming to a close, with the final playoff games being on Friday. After earning some final points in the preceding days, my squad had solidified its spot in the match for first place. Again, I took the reins for the “Blu” team in basketball as we vied for first place. However, it seemed destined not to be, as we were defeated by the other team after a close game of near misses and unlucky moments. I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed by the loss as well as frustrated that the kids had not heeded my coaching instructions more fully. However, after I saw the dejected faces of some of my players, I realized my own pride really came last in this situation. Rather than sulk in my own displeasure, I took to consoling each of them in the best broken Italian I could offer and assured them that they should be proud of themselves for having given their best.
Despite this loss, I was still very proud of my kids, which made me even more happy when it was announced at the end of the last day that our team won the overall competition of ‘oratorio.’ This was much in thanks to the many participation points the children on the team earned by taking part in all the various activities of each week. It was a great moment just as much for us counselors on the squad as for the kids as we felt the pride of having motivated our campers to put themselves out there in each activity rather than remain passively on the sidelines.
As for the after-hours activities, going out meant for us either one of three things: checking out the basketball tournament that was being every night at the oratorio, drinking wine in front of the Hotel Borromeo, or going to the youthful bar, Napoleone, on Thursday. As exhausted as I would usually feel the next morning, it was well worth the pain for us to enjoy our last week together in this small town we have become accustomed to calling home.
This final week culminated in a touching ceremony and celebration for all the different camps in the city that Friday night. This included a parade through the city with a local brass marching band, a commencement involving all the kids, their families, the counselors, and even the mayor of the town! The most memorable part was easily the slideshows of each camp, in which ours was particularly touching and certainly invoked a swell of bittersweet emotions in all of us who were about to leave behind all these freshly-formed connections. Thankfully, we had one more week in the mountains to look forward to with many of our same campers.