day 1 at the WCCC


I have a lot of experience with kids, and I leaned heavily on this to incorporate myself into the WCCC. As a YMCA camp counselor during the summer, I had basically all the jobs that the "caretakers" had at the WCCC, but the camp kids were much older, ages ranged from 1st graders to 5th graders and a few outside of this range sprinkled in. In addition, I also taught kids how to swim for many organizations, including my various swim teams and such, but once again, these kids were mostly 10 and unders, or "squirts" as we called them. The kids at the WCCC were obviously much younger, and its definitely a new experience.

So immediately when I walk in, I was about 5 minutes early (the afternoon shift), meaning that most of the kids were still asleep, and I was half-awkwardly introduced by the teacher. The kids that were awake immediately noticed me, curious to see a stranger in the midst, but I think my crew of kids were about 5 years old (which I learned later) and weren't really threatened at all. The teacher told me that they love it when boys come, maybe because most of the teachers/volunteers are of the female orientation, and its nice to see a boyish figure every now and then? I took these first 5 minutes to take in my surroundings, and I saw all of the kids on their cots, which look disgustingly uncomfortable, these plastic devices with mesh in the middle covered with each kids' own sheets. I noticed that the kids that were asleep were curled up instead of sleeping with outstretched arms and legs, like how adults sleep. Possibly because the cots were a bit small (but there was about a foot left of space left on the bottom of the cot, but the mesh didn't instead all the way to the ends of the cot), or maybe its because its their attempt to keep warm, although the room wasn't really that chilly.

Anyhow, the kids woke up, and I helped the teacher collect the books/cots which some kids weren't even reading, they were using them as hats and were hiding in them, possibly due to a short attention span because the kids aren't allowed to do anything while it is nap time besides read their books. Afterwards, the kids began to do their academic exercises, which today was writing the number 6 and the word six a bunch of times. At this point I was able to sit down and actually connect with the kids. And they were incredibly friendly, especially the ones at my table, three girls named Maragret, Burnie? and Elizabeth? and another boy named Ilan? (I am absolutely TERRIBLE with names). I was helping Ilan with his numbers and then he said that he smelled gum (which I was chewing), so I jokedly hid my mouth behind my hand, which got the kids laughing, and I guess that was all that I needed to break the ice. During this time however, Maragret's nose was bleeding, and many of the children were scared. When I asked Ilan why he was scared, he said he was scared because it was red and scary. I then asked him if hes scared of my shirt (which was red) and he said no because it was painted red (the kid had a point, albeit it didn't make sense) so I asked him if apples are painted red and he replied yes. I then asked him what else is red but isn't painted red, and he was unable to answer me. Honestly, I just think that he associated blood with horror films when he was exposed to it and subconsciously accommodated blood to be scary, just like how he accommodated a heart that he traced to be pink, and then noted how a girl made hers multi-colored, which was "wrong". The girl immediately then scribbled in some pink into her heart and traced an airplane and made it pink. How he thought up of the "painted things aren't scary," I have no clue.

By then I had earned the "friendship" of many of the kids, especially Elizabeth who took interest in me for whatever reason. She seemed to be one of the older kids, judging by her knowledge of the basic classroom procedures and her mechanical ability to trace and draw pictures. She also wielded a significant amount of authority amongst the kids, one instance I remember was when Ilan wanted to see her paper so he could see how she did her 6's (even though a 6 was already on the sheet that the students were supposed to trace if they were having trouble). She wanted me to sit next to her during snack time, which I did. Snack time wasn't terribly interesting, except Elizabeth poured an entire cup of apple juice when she was supposed to take only a half-cup, which the other kids pointed to their cups as if to teach her what a half-cup looks like. By this time the kids wanted to know how old I was, so I turned it into a game where they had to guess and I would tell them if my true age was higher or lower than what they said. This game went on for a good 20 minutes and they could never guess my age because the top repeated guesses were 1, 10, 100, and 1000. And randomly 21. They seemed to be incapable of remembering that their previous answer of 2 minutes ago was incorrect, and that they should move either lower or higher according to what I told them, instead of guessing random numbers.

Afterwards, we had a short session on the letter "A", and kids had to name a word that started with the letter "A", which Elizabeth aced, while other kids were having trouble. Then we read a book, which was pretty uneventful. But what was interesting were the little "games" that the teacher used to keep the kids under controlled. They were pretty simple, for example, when she wanted the attention of the kids, she would say "1, 2, 3, all eyes on (and at this point all the kids would look at her and say) ME". And also, to get the kids from moving around during story-time, the kids were motivated to sit still so that they wouldn't "break the bubble" (the bubble being the circle shape they were sitting in). I vaguely remember trying to use these "games" in the past, but to no avail. Clearly children at this age are obedient and will do mostly whatever the authority figure says to do.

From then on, the kids just played outside on the playground until their parents came to pick them up. This was pretty uneventful, except many more children noticed me as we played hide and seek. There were a handful of children that cried for various reasons, which apparently were common because they were incredibly resilient and were all better in a matter of minutes if not seconds. Except one boy, Andrew, who was confronted by another boy who didn't like it when Andrew pulled on his jacket. At this point Andrew starts crying, and was inconsolable. Out of the blue, and this boy would NOT STOP CRYING. Maybe this is a residue of his baby years, crying whenever he is uncomfortable with a situation and keeps on crying until he gets attention/the problem is resolved. However, this problem was obviously his fault, for the other kid just said plainly and calmly "Andrew I don't like it when you pull on my new jacket," which didn't accompany a physical shove or anything of the sort. The staff felt that the problem didn't need attention because apparently he does it all the time, and usually resolves it himself in a violent fashion. Additionally, his parents were late picking him up on this particular day, which may have added to his level of "discontent" if children at this age are aware of the time.

I really wish these kids would stop crying. It breaks my heart when my ancient technique or rubbing/scratching their back fails to make them feel better.