“…This is me at Camp Granada…”
…well, not exactly! But that tune about a typical American Summer Camp experience serves well: we have had an AMAZING TIME.
We were meant to be on a circus tour for eight weeks this summer, but ended up instead doing themed weeks at summer camp. And, after the first one, we are asking ourselves “Why did we never do this before?”
Today’s Gallery Theme: “Built, or Building!”
(Thanks again to Patje at ‘Bambiboys’ for some great photo selections)
The camp we have been to offers themed weeks, and we were the main contributors to ‘Circus Skills’ along with some jugglers and clowns. The camp had excellent equipment like bars, rings and trapezes rigged outdoors and an array of tumbling mats… not to mention the pool and other amenities for enjoying ourselves when not on duty! The camp also aid on superb weather for the week, which was pretty kewl, since cramming our training indoors would have been a bit of a squeeze with nearly 100 kids!
What it also did not do was lay on WiFi and, with a pretty horrendous cellphone signal as well, everyone was able to focus instead on their outdoor activities – but hence, no post from me for a whole week.
Everyone attending knew that this was going to be something of a strenuous and gymnastic/acrobatic nature, so they were all game to give things a go, which is great. A slight majority of boys over girls, and ranging from they clearly very fit (mainly team-game players or wrestlers) to the almost spherical but (and I give the guy huge credit for it) willing to give things a try and not be afraid to fail in front of the others. In the end, there were plenty things he didn’t fail on and, with a wonderful personality, he made loads of friends.
Day 1, we gave a short show – some examples of things we do, and explained that we would be starting with simple acrobatic work and the trapeze. Fiery and fakir stuff we left till later in the week, and mainly to show rather than to have participation! Basically we did two sessions a day – up to lunchtime and then a couple of hours in the early evening before the final meal. In between – pool time, exploring the grounds, tennis and so on for the ‘campers’. Most days we retreated into our camping bus at that point and drove around to the far side of a lake where we could do our own skinny dipping without fear of interruption or discovery!
‘We’… being Dave and I with Zach and Gary, the two adult “girls” Karen and Clare, their (and our) offspring Jaymee and Leo, and their bosom friends Karla and Chris – who just happen to make two ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ couples as well as a pretty stylish acrobatic team. All neatly ‘bunked up’ in the bus, mostly in pairs according to status – Dave and I as a gay couple, Zach and Gary likewise, Karen and Clare likewise also, Leo and Chris because they are inseparable mates and because definitely not allowed at age 14 to be sharing their beds with their girlfriends who had one each!
Dave and I with Zach and Gary are the original foursome who, at Zach’s demands, created the Tuan Jie group which shares its gay sexual favours exclusively within but never outside of itself. ‘Strength through Brotherhood’ (or words to that effect), sharing not only our sexuality but also our acrobatic and strength training skills, as described in my books. The Tuan Jie symbol appears on every cover of the three volumes, linking that symbolism with acrobatic silhouettes and the adventures that they describe. Worth a glance, I would hope, especially if you are new to this blog and haven’t blanked out on the book adverts. You won’t be disappointed, and you don’t have to be gay to enjoy them – just gay-tolerant. Click on the covers for detail and, if you are hesitating, books are coming back in compared with e-readers – but those version are available too. Never mind the quality, feel the width!
And so it came to pass, I didn’t spend every night curled up with Dave – Zach came to mine, and then I to Gary… but I digress, except to say that with the four straight kids in the same vehicle, everything is very discreet…
After the first day, Leo suggested to me that we offer a pre-breakfast fitness warm up for anyone willing to show up (bodyweight exercises). About 80 of them signed up and, to their credit, about 70 actually showed up at 6.30am for an hour of exercises led by the young’uns. Open air, crisp and dewy, our boys barefoot and with their shirts off, and many of the others quickly following the example. We joining in, naturally, to show how important regular training is in order to maintain the necessary skills, and it became a daily feature. The initially nearly spherical guy took up the challenge and, by the end of the week, was making great progress and vows to change his diet and take more exercise. Score!
And so the week went on – continuing enthusiasm for increasingly difficult acrobatic moves both individually and in groups, together with strength training. It became obvious during the week that kids waiting their turn were starting to ‘voluntarily’ exercise – a quick handstand attempt here, a few press-ups there… and that’s all it needs, really. These summer camps work.
Obviously, none of them are going to look like that in one week, but the grins said it all for us. It quickly stopped being a ‘teacher-pupil’ relationship, instead all of us and all of them were on the same team, helping each other to try new skills and develop their existing ones. That included, under the most careful supervision, letting those who wanted try things like our beds of nails.
On Friday, it was our finale day, with an earlier meal followed by a show – us. Opened by Jaymee and Leo doing their duo balance, joined by Karla (another acrobatic gymnast) and finally Chris (mainly providing strength in support because that’s his passion rather than acrobatics); some tumbling from us as an entrance, group balance and pitching/flying with the kids added in; Dave and I doing our teeth support stuff from the trapeze; girls bringing on glass, nails and so forth – you get the gist I am sure; more tumbling around them as Chris and Leo smash a couple of concrete blocks on each other on the nail bed; some stuff on glass culminating in handwalking along the glass track; Leo in the glass ‘tank’ with others walking on top; finale acro and tumbling and the Clare and Karen with Jaymee doing their fire stuff as darkness fell… dramatic finale…
So, in the end, all the stuff we had rehearsed for the aborted circus tour paid off, and will be repeated in two more summer camps later in the vacation period. Actually, three more, because this place wants us back, in late July in week 1 of the British school holidays when my oldest friend Colin’s family begin their us visit: of course, this would mean Ollie joining us AT CAMP so as not to deprive him of time with time with his young American fitness mates Leo and Chris – there is only a 2-week overlap in the UK and American school vacations – so we will need to find him things to do and somehow put him in our “show”. He’ll be over the moon, but first I need to speak carefully with his mum and dad!!
A really great thing about this place was the food. The kids were in huts in groups of about ten (single-sex, obviously) and everything about the organisation is first class: in fact I wouldn’t mind going as a ‘camper’ myself! Child protection and duty of care rules in our contract mean that I can’t post details of the place or pictures of the kids here… but they all can post whatever they want on Facebook and the rest, so it’s all out there if you dig around!
OK – in three week’s time, camp number 2 comes up. They have something to live up to here… but we’re really enjoying this ‘reduced’ tour compared with what we previously faced and the money is pretty much up to what we would have earned for the entire eight weeks in circus. This is not a high-salary occupation!! which is why I need to sell you books…
Sorry, repeating myself a bit there!
OK, home now and wide awake in the middle of the night for some reason, so I thought that I would catch up with you in this post. We’ve also heard that Chet (agent/sometimes driver) has set up three one-night stands for us in an ‘interesting’ setting – tell you about that next time. Meanwhile I’ll add a bunch more pictures on the theme, and see you again very soon! The next one is a bit small, but the guy is worth a look!