Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Whew, now that the Silent Weekend retreat is over...part 2

Editor's note: please see the post below for part one if you haven't read that yet.

I woke up Saturday morning and it was still dark out. I went to check on my campers and I was tickled, really tickled to see my thieves had taken their mattresses down and placed them in front of the fireplace (the mandated spot for each cabin's mascot) and they slept on the floor to make sure nobody could get to our mascot. I looked over to the fireplace and was shocked to see our mascot wasn't alone.

My boys. My cabin. I felt that familiar surge of pride again.

I got my pager out and I took a picture. The older thief woke up from the flash and when he saw who I was, he grinned at me. I signed, "how many mascots?" and he signed "Four". I signed "Four? Proud you!" The original picture was way off-center so I took another picture. The older thief grinned and held his thumb up as I re-snapped the picture. The younger thief had accidentally covered up the other mascots while he slept - you can barely make out the blue dog peeking out from under. Take a look. LOL

You can see the hen now, just behind our mascot.

At the mandatory 7:45 am staff meeting, I found out that my campers had won the Dutch Auction game. That boosted my sense of pride for my campers, which is no easy feat.

After the meeting, I joined my campers at their table for breakfast and they told me other campers were grumbling about the two thieves being too good at the mascot game. Then the staffer in charge came over and told my campers to give back the mascots. They protested that they had followed the rules cleanly this time. They looked at me and I nodded my head slightly; they promptly turned the mascots over to her.

After she left with the 4 mascots, the younger one signed to me, "Why punish us? We follow rules!" I leaned in and signed, "(it's) Okay, you punish because you too good". They laughed at that and calmed down. I was curious about how they managed to steal 4 mascots after the cabins had learned how sneaky they were and were undoubtedly on high alert.

Me: "How four?"
Older thief: "We went their cabins, take"
Me: "Time?"
Younger thief: "3 morning"
Me: "Wow"

Then it was time for the outdoor games. Friday night had dipped into the 30's and the sun was warming the field up to the high 40's when we streamed out of the mess hall. We headed out to play a regular Silent Weekend game and a favorite of mine, "Clusters". It's a great game that anyone can play.

Here's how it works - someone holds up a number and the participants must "cluster" themselves into a group of people matching the sign. If the sign comes up as "6", each group must have 6 people in it. The "refs" rush in and count the members of each group to ensure accuracy. The others who couldn't find enough members are out of the game. Then everyone breaks apart and mingles...waiting for the next number. The last two remaining in the game are the winners. The last two left in the game that morning were each given a clue to share with their cabins.

After playing a relay game (each camper had to "read" what was fingerspelled and either fingerspell or sign it) and "Guess Who?" (each camper had to guess the identity on a card taped to their backs, using "yes/no" questions), we went back for lunch. My co-counselor informed me that he managed to get another clue. My mental computation told me that any other cabin had, at best, 2 clues while ours had 4.

After lunch, I left to lead a workshop for the beginners. I decided on the "7 W's of ASL" (who, what, where, when, why, which, & how) as the building block approach, supplemented with time reference (yesterday, tomorrow, day, week, month, etc.), emotions, and gender line for sex-specific signs (mother, father, boy, girl, etc.).

When I wrapped the workshop up 1.5 hours later, the participants were able to follow everything so much better and they felt good about that. Some came over and praised me for that. Even the staffers who attended were impressed by my style of teaching. I had gotten everyone involved, even the staffers and counselors. This was officially my first time leading a workshop. Two years ago, a presentator got sick and I took over at the last minute.

Then it was craft time, where the campers were allowed to unwind and get creative. That always recharges the batteries. Then the announcement came - each cabin must use the line "Guess What?" and use the gloves as prop in their skit. What skit, you may be thinking? Every year, each cabin comes up with a skit involving signing, deaf culture, and any relevant aspect of the deaf world and we all compete for the best skit. It's one of the best things about the whole weekend...and the most stressful!

I herded my campers back to our cabin to brainstorm for our skit. I came up with a great ending line...the problem was we had nothing to build around that. We had 1.5 hours to brainstorm before dinner and then 2 hours before we had to go to the rec hall and perform our skit.

Nothing. NOTHING. We went back and forth. We came up with three different ideas, but none of them were interchangeable with each other. Nobody could agree on a single idea. Suddenly, it was time for dinner. I signed to the campers, "Eat fast, come here. 5 minutes eat. Go". After I scarfed down my meal, I biked back and laid myself down to rest my brain.

The co-counselor woke me up few minutes later and after deliberating for 15 minutes, we eliminated one idea. We ultimately decided that the idea of murder was not doable and focused on the idea of a bad dream. This happened 50 minutes BEFORE everyone had to go to the rec hall. Argh!

The younger thief had a talent for performance and was the logical choice as "the kid" in the skit...but...he had never seen the movie we based the skit on and had no idea exactly how the line worked or the impact of the line. He was only 7 at the time the movie came out. After struggling through the explanation for 4th time, someone suggested that I be the kid. Before I could protest, every camper jumped in and unanimously agreed on that.

Sighs. Okay. We rehearsed everything at the speed of light. Well, we had to - only 30 minutes to get it all down before going. I reminded everyone to not worry about flubbing their lines...the audience does not know what we are doing and would not know if someone messed up. We rushed off for the rec hall 5 minutes until 8 pm.

The skit took place on Planet Eyeth (as opposed to EARth, where most of us are deaf and we sign everywhere). At the beginning of the skit, I was ordered to bed by my "parents". As I dreamt, I "woke up" in the dream and I tried to sign to my uncle and aunt but they were wearing gloves so they no longer spoke sign language and were "speaking" like Earthlings.

I panicked and ran to my sisters doing pedicures on each other. They had gloves on and "spoke" to me, not understanding what I was signing to them. I freaked out when I saw my brother speaking on a phone with gloves on. Why is he using a phone if he is deaf?!? I saw my parents and tried to sign frantically to them. They did not understand and thought I was flailing my hands around. I saw they had gloves on. (I ran to my bed to wake up from the dream) As I woke up, I cried for my parents and they rushed in.

Mother signed "What's wrong?" I pulled my blanket up and around my head and I signed "I see...hearing people". (That's when the audience roared with laughter as they realized we had done the deaf version of "The Sixth Sense"). Mother signed "Guess what" and I signed "What?" and she signed "Hearing people not real." I sighed with relief and signed "Whew, bad dream".

Judges traditionally razz each skit. I loved what they said about our skit.

After every skit was performed, we had the option of going to a bonfire or the mess hall or cabins because we all were done for Saturday. I hung out at the bonfire for a while before checking in on the mess hall prior to going to bed.

Around 5 am Sunday, I was awakened with a sudden cramp in my right calf. I got out to stand on my foot to unkink it...and saw something dart across my room. I crept out or my room, looked around, and caught someone trying to steal our mascot. Whew! I checked around the cabin and boom, caught another one lurking in the shadows. He was obviously the back-up. Perfect timing to have a cramp. LOL

At the mandatory staff meeting, the counselors all agreed that my skit was the best and funniest. After discussing the candidates for awards, we joined the campers for breakfast while the judges deliberated everything.

We all went to the rec hall for the last time. The staffers let the campers know that they were once again allowed to use their voices. Then the awards were given out. My cabin won The Devil (the older thief), The Clown (the younger thief), The Biggest Sweetheart, and The Balancing Act.

Sadly, the judges did not think our skit was the best and I was told there was a collective gasp when another cabin won instead. At least we won their minds and hearts. ;)


Katie Hahs said...

sounds like you had a great time :) wish i coulda been there! maybe next year? :)

DCHY said...

Katie - you should've been there. Definitely come next year...I will be looking forward to that.

Copyboy said...

Hey that weekend had it all – victory, entertainment, crime. Sorry you didn't win the talent show, but at least you nailed the DA.

Sandra said...

I see deaf people!!!!
I laughed!
You guys should have won! And I gasped, so I can imagine the feeling in the room, the united gasp!

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Thats brilliant. Your skit shoulda won!

DCHY said...

Copyboy - you made me burst out laughing at your remark about the DA. Thanks.

Sandra - I tracked one of the judges down and asked why. He said our skit was too short. Ahh.

ADSL - the counselors thought that too. The judges had the final say, obviously.

nitebyrd said...

Y'all had such a great weekend! Your campers are going to have such amazing memories.

DCHY said...

Nitebyrd - out of 8 campers, 6 have "friended" me on Facebook. I suspect the other two don't have FB. ;)