Things I learned at a camp fair

Today you’re going to get a glimpse into something you may never have witnessed: the Camp Fair. Ben and I just got back from one last night, a two-day affair at a university in the lovely mountains of VA, where we spent two long days standing in a drafty hallway along with recruiters from many other camps, calling out things like “Areyoulookingforacampthissummer?” and “Wannaworkatcamp?” to the 18-to-22-year-old masses rushing by our tables, and listening to the same songs play on the same slideshows over, and over, and over, and over.

It’s quite an experience. I’ve done this before, but it had been a while …. and I’d never been to a camp fair at this particular university before. It was a good fair as far as fairs go; free lunch, lots of traffic (almost too much – at times I felt like I was being stampeded), nice people, and quite a bit of interest from the students. It also afforded an opportunity to learn some new things, such as …..

  • Students will rarely take candy when you offer it to them politely. Students will hardly even take candy if you shove the candy bowl in their faces. But if you start talking to someone or move away from your booth for even a moment, students will DASH over to the table and take HANDFULS of candy.
  • When given the chance, mature adults who walk by your table will take much MORE candy than the college-age-ers. So don’t be fooled when a nice-looking gray-haired teacher asks if he or she can have some candy; say “yes,” do NOT cheerfully say, “Take all you want!” assuming that they are a grown-up and they know that this means, maybe, 2 pieces. THEY WILL CLEAN YOU OUT.
  • Some camp recruiters are not very honest with the students they are recruiting. How do you know this? When you hear the recruiters screaming things like “COME TO CAMP, IT’S ALWAYS FUN!!” and “MAKE TONS OF MONEY!!”. Anyone who has worked at a camp knows this is not, as a rule, true. Always fun? Tons of money? Ha, ha.
  • It’s not always hard to tell if a college student is a good fit for your camp or not. For example, take this brief conversation I had:
    Friendly, Helpful Me: “Looking for a summer ministry opportunity?”
    Twentysomething White Male: “I’m looking for a JOB that pays OVER TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS.”
    It was not difficult to realize that we did not want him, and he did not want us. End of story. That was simple.
  • People who work at camps are a funny lot. Generally speaking, they are not afraid to be the center of attention, they are quite persistent in getting that attention, they are eternally optimistic, happy, chatty and sometimes childlike, and they have few qualms about being perceived as unusual or weird. This comes from years of entertaining small children by persistently doing unusual and weird things in order to get and maintain their attention. Obviously, given the difficulty of this task, the only people who would stick with it would be the optimistic, happy ones. No one else would make it. So there you have it.
  • There is much talk at camp fairs about a mystical thing known as The Blob. The Blob is highly sought-after. It is desirable. It is rare, and highly prized/touted by those who possess it. To those who have never heard of The Blob, an exchange like this one might seem odd:
    Student: “Do you have A Blob?”
    Recruiter (proudly): “Yes, we’re one of the few camps in (insert state or region here) who do!”
    Student (ecstatically): “YESSS!!! I love The Blob!!”
    Of course, you wouldn’t overhear many conversations like this because camps who do have A Blob advertise it with prominently displayed pictures and large-print captions that say “WE HAVE A BLOB!!” It seems like Blobs are where it’s at in the camping business these days. Of course, I wouldn’t know, though, because our small camp does not have one. I’m ashamed.

Not only did I learn all those fascinating things …. we also got a lot of names of students who are interested in working with us this summer. And I picked up lots of brochures from other camp booths (as I always do) to steal ideas from. And possibly located a new T-Shirt vendor. And heard about a game which is a strange and awesome cross between Ultimate Frisbee and Dodgeball. So it really was a pretty cool camp fair. :-)



  1. Naomie

    Wow! sounds like fun……maybe…;)
    I hope there was some candy left for you after they cleaned you out! And i hope you got some good people for camp this year!
    and i’ve gotta ask…what’s a blob? i’m very confused! :p

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