Now, you might not be able to tell it from my writing, but I'm pretty good with kids. I grew up in a family with a lot of younger cousins (out of the eight grandchildren my collective grandparents have, only my brother is older than me), and I guess I have some kind of child care gene. My mom has been a preschool director for as long as I can remember, so maybe I get it from her. I digress; let's just leave it that I'm good with kids.

This has led me to take up a few jobs whereby I have some kind of responsibility over younger humans. I've worked in two elementary schools where I was a “group leader” for a summer camp and after-school care program, with 5th graders and kindergartners, respectively.

This past summer, however, I took up at job at a privately owned summer camp out in a small rural town north of North Durham. Throughout the day, the kids would go from class to class, arts and crafts, archery, tennis, and what have you. I was the head of the “Nature” department. That's me in the corner, there. I was elected to be Sheriff when we had our “Country Fair” day. Quit laughing. It hurts.

Now, I'll be honest- I don't know a damn thing about nature. I was in Cub Scouts for all of about a year before I decided I'd rather learn to tie knots on my own, so I split. I know how to go camping, I can start a fire, gather firewood, and if pressed, I can tell you which of the objects in a given forest is a tree. Other than that, I'm useless when it comes to nature knowledge.

But, being the wholesome and responsible person that I can fake in job interviews, added with the fact that I've never been convicted of any major crime, I was put in charge of the department. Here are a few choice anecdotes/quotes/happenings that I thought you'd all get a kick out of. If you don't get a kick out of them, well, I won't pretend to care.

Every day after lunch, me and one of the coolest dudes I've ever met, Mark (all names have been changed to protect the innocent, and the guilty), would go out back of the main building and enjoy one of his hand-rolled cigarettes. Now, the man had chops. He could roll a good stogie likety-split, complete with filter. These mini-rettes would bear a more than striking resemblance to joints (where, I'm sure, Mark got his chops from. Mark had some primo bud). It was always interesting to see fellow counselors, the camp directors, and one or twice kids come around the corner, look over and see me and Mark, and do a mouth-agape double-take before they remembered that we (probably) weren't toking up outside of work before we had to go back to making respectable campers out of little kids.

One of the few black kids at camp (this was an expensive summer camp that was attended by mostly rich white kids whose parents worked somewhere within the Duke University system), Lloyd, provided me with a few verbal exchanges that I've yet to had topped by a kid his age. Lloyd was ten.

After Lloyd had been gone to Orlando for about a week on vacation, he triumphantly returned to camp and regaled me with adventures down in Grand Ol' Florida:

Me: What's up, Lloyd. You have fun in Orlando?
Lloyd: Yeah, man. Went to Disney World and stuff.
Me: You see any family down there, man?
Lloyd: Oh yeah, man… I know some dudes in Orlando be jackin' cars!

There was a chick about my age, another counselor, who worked at the pool with me when I was lifeguarding. I'll just say this- she had some substantial cans. I mean, those suckers were huge. Yowza.

One day, out of the blue, Lloyd went up to my buddy Tim, who was also working there that summer, and looking at Large Chested Counselor, said the following:

Lloyd: Man… I swear… sometimes I just wanna go up to those things, and… ahh! (makes a blatant tit-grab motion)

Needless to say, I encouraged this kind of behavior in my kids. Especially Lloyd. He was the coolest.

Here are a few more choice quotes that were overheard that summer:

Jonah (age 7): I know how to perform female circumcision!

Jack (age 10): Yeah, I found a tick on my you-know-what one time.
Ben (age 10): Me too! I asked my father if it was part of my growth.

I couldn't keep it together after that one. I laughed for a good three minutes straight.

(after one of me and Mark's smoke breaks)
Sarah (age 5): Nature Tyler, you smell like my grandpa!
Me: Ge back in line. No talking. You just got poison ivy on your face.

When it would rain and activities would be suspended for a little while, we'd gather all 130 or so kids, ages ranging from 4-12, into the main meeting room in “The Shire” (the camp was Lord of the Rings themed. Yes, I kind of liked that. Fuck off), and in between “Whose Line Is It Anyway”-type improv skits, I would usually be asked to bring out my guitar and sing a song or two, y'know, for the kids. The range of critical response I got from my work was a twelve-year-old who said that he loved the music, and wanted to know the bands and the songs I played (I made a CD for him 'cause I'm that damn cool), to a five-year-old who complained to another counselor that I made his ears bleed.

I've got a million stories just like and probably better than these, but I haven't the time nor space nor energy to get 'em out there today. If you liked this, lemme know, and I'll revisit it at a later date.

Also, sorry I got the post out so late today. That's what happens when you decide to write an 8-page paper in four hours.