Summer camp is lovely; but it can also be a flash back to the high school type atmosphere of groups and cliques and the ever lasting battle between the cool kids and the rest of us mere mortals.
Within a few days of arriving here, I'd sussed out that there were various sub groups forming. Alliances had been made and while some hold all the right cards, there are others who will remain on the outside. By some miracle, I was admitted into the inner circle; but only just as I remain hovering near the edge. It is my inability, or rather my unwillingness to give in and just go with the flow; I ask too many questions, I refuse to let certain things just slide, I don't abide with mediocrity. All this made some people uncomfortable.
Some of my colleagues have been doing this for a number of years. It makes them experienced, but in many respects it also makes them lethargic. They've gone to the same museums, been on the same day trips and facilitated the same activities so many times that they're now running on auto pilot. On the other hand, there are other ALs who although cannot cite years of summer camp experience under their belt, are in fact quite happy and very eager to actually perform the duties for which we were all hired! But, just like in high school, if the "in" crowd isn't doing it, well it just ain't cool for you to go ahead and do it anyway.
Yesterday on a day trip to Brighton I was paired up with one of those cool kids. He made it very clear to me that I was to follow his lead and that meant giving the groups a quicky tour of the pier, pointing them in the direction of the shops and setting a meet back time. This would mean hours of free time for us to go off and do whatever we wanted. It wasn't like he was shirking his duties, just that I know we could have done so much better with pointing out the sights and sounds. And so I made a snap decision and announced to the group that I was heading off to the famed Pavilion and would be happy to take anyone who wanted to go there with me. More than half the group joined me. My colleague didn't say anything, but as he walked off towards the beach I knew he wasn't pleased. It hadn't been my intention to make him look bad, it just that I really wasn't comfortable with the situation.
I hadn't really prepared a walking tour and most of what I knew about Brighton and the Pavilion I had read on Wikipedia the day before! Still, at least it was something and I really do think the kids and the group leaders had a good time. Once done with the Pavillion, the consensus was for shopping and so I left them to it. Even after the additional tour, I still managed to have two hours to myself.
On the bus ride back, I got teased for being a keener. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I will be the butt of many jokes in the staff room. Perhaps I won't be on the next round of text messages inviting people to post work drinks.
Then again, I never did belong at the cool kids table. So I guess I'm ok with that after all.