I’m reviving the “apples and onions” posts that I used to do for my Youth School internship because I can’t possibly keep up with posting about all the really cool (and occasional pretty devastating) things that happen in the course of a week of summer camp. Apples are a symbol of those moments that are just super sweet. Onions are things that have lots of layers and sometimes make you cry and maybe need a little processing before they’re really edible. I will probably post these “apples and onions” posts on Thursdays because I’ll drive home after work on Fridays and not feel like posting over the weekend.

So, for week one, it’s been a really amazing week. It feels really good for this to be my second year. I’m so much more laid-back about things. I know I’m good at this, so I don’t feel anxious all the time that I’m forgetting something important. Only about half the time. There have been at least eleventy-two really sweet moments this week. But the big picture one is that I have a kid in my group who I also had last year. (A little context: I have a group of 11 kids, ranging from 9 to 12 years old. 3 of them are girls, and all the oldest ones are boys. One of the boys has Asperger’s Syndrome. One is on medication for anxiety (and I would be anxious too, if I had his mother). They’re all good kids.) The kid that I know from last year has turned into a so much more pleasant human being. Last year, he was so annoying that we ended up having a group meeting (between the students) to talk about it. Things had deteriorated to the point of him being annoying, and all the other kids yelling at him to shut up. So we had a council about it and had to talk specifically about whether or not he wanted to change that behavior and whether or not the other students would be willing to help him with that change. It was pretty rough. This year, he totally rocks. His desire to be the center of attention has mellowed from the acting out of last year to a real talent for leadership. He has a way of being so engaged and excited about whatever he’s doing that the other kids just naturally want to do it too. It’s really cool to be able to see that progress. Usually, I just get to see them for one intense week and then I never know any more about them.

And a bonus apple moment: This was just one of those little moments. We were off trail, climbing on a fallen log. We were definitely pushing some boundaries for some of the kids, since they were pretty uncomfortable getting scratches on their legs and stuff. There was a certain amount of whining going on, which I was pretending not to hear. To get off the log, each kid had to jump-step down into a bit of a brush pile. 2 or 3 kids in front of me, I saw one of the girls jump down and lose her balance. She grabbed a nearby branch to try to balance herself, but that branch wasn’t really attached to anything. In slow motion, I watch her teeter backwards past the balance point and fall on her back in the brush pile, pulling the large branch over on top of herself. I hear her take a deep breath, and I brace myself for bad things to happen. “Oh my god!” she says. “This is SO COMFORTABLE!” And I just couldn’t help but laugh at her laying there on her backpack like a stuck turtle in this brushpile.

Onions: Well, it says a lot that I can’t really think of any off the top of my head. The Asperger’s kid is, predictably, somewhat hard to deal with. He likes to pretend that he doesn’t hear me, but is actually too smart for his own good. Fortunately, his mom is cool and we’ve come up with a system where I get to have some control over the number of minutes he is allowed to use his Gameboy after he gets home. As my mom says, it’s all about the leverage. So really, I can’t get that to count as an onion either. Hmm, I guess I don’t really have any onions this week. Like I said, it’s been a great week.