Growing up I was in the Boy Scouts. Over the years I volunteered with various day camps during the summer. In college I finally realized that I could camp, while being paid. Working a summer camp is the best job ever and teaches you so much.
Working with kids is such an amazing experience. They are full of excitement and just want to have fun. It seems as if they never run out of energy at all and if you get the right age group they look at you as their hero. The things they say are some of the most random but funniest things ever. You are giving them an experience that is often forgotten about in todays age. Kids these days don’t get out as much as I even did 10 years ago. So when they come to camp they are experiencing something they don’t do that often. It’s important that you show them you can have a ton of fun outside and being active.
Often we forget what it is like to just have fun and not worry about ourselves and social media. Camps won’t let you play with your phones. So for most of the week you won’t be able to refresh your twitter every two seconds and worry about Facebook drama. It’s really great to just actually talk to people all the time in person. You actually feel much less stressed and relaxed and you see the little things around you that you normally don’t see.
The people you meet and work with at camp are some of the best friends you will ever have. I still stay in contact with a lot of them. You spend an entire summer bonding over the same activities and grow together. I have met people from all different states,colleges and countries. You really get to learn a lot from other people this way.
Working at a camp is something that may not seem like the highest paying job, but the experience is something you will never ever forget. It’s a job that is in high demand and did I mention some of the places you may work? Last summer I worked in Cape Cod and this summer I have a job offer in South Carolina. You can go someplace that people vacation at and get paid for it. Win-win for everyone involved.
North Dakota has the kind of space that you forget exists sometimes, living in the city. You forget about the vast expanse of dirt and road. It’s so flat on the prairies where I grew up, with so few trees clogging up the fields where the tractors turn laps for hours, that on a clear day you really can see forever. You can see for miles. On the Fourth of July, we could sit at our farm and watch fireworks from two towns away.
North Dakota has the kind of space that lends itself to quiet. On a winter night, it is silent. Farm machinery sleeps in sheds and under blankets of heavy snow. The people are few and far between; there’s a house every few miles, perhaps a small cluster, a family compound of sorts on the home farm.
The people become quiet. The winter wind whips down the fields and swipes your words right out of your mouth. North Dakota breeds quiet men, the kind of men who prowl the garden at night thinking their private thoughts, the kind who drive around the section with a beer riding shotgun clattering around in the cup holder. The kind who belly up to the small town bars near every night. You talk about the weather, about politics, about the fields. After awhile you run out of things to say and then you don’t say anything at all.
You return home from the city and see these places have become shabby. Buildings flake paint and sag in disrepair. The elderly couples who lived in these houses when you were a child have since moved away or died. Their gardens are just patches of dirt now. The decay of time spreads to every little town on the railroad. There’s one every five miles, you know, and there’s a bar and a church in each one. Most of the churches have closed their doors and consolidated now, but the bars are open. C’mon in and sit on down.
The door of the bar squeals your arrival as it swings on its hinge; this door has always swung wide open as if to alert the patrons of a new presence. Their chairs turn in half-moons to see who has just walked in.
There’s a certain charm to the small town, the kind Garrison Keillor explains on the radio every Sunday in that cello voice. You grow up feeling safe, riding your bike across town and everyone’s looking out for you because everybody knows your name, knows your family. There’s a simple routine in a small town; the same farmers meet for breakfast at the bar every day and everyone knows who wants his toast swimming in butter and who doesn’t drink coffee. There are weddings, and everyone attends. You hear a story about the girl and her boyfriend who climbed the water tower and you know it’s true. I never tried it because I knew that looking at the town from way high up would make me feel more restless than I already did.
When we were teenagers, we would walk the streets in the early hours of the morning, lay down right on Main Street with no fear that any vehicle would flatten our splayed out bodies. We’d run across the football field, dark as it was without those flashy loud lights that always made my cheerleader heart beat a little faster. My best friend and I stood out the sunroof, arms wrapped around one another, as Donny drove down a gravel road and there was no noise, only the wind whipping through our hair and our voices screaming into the night.
I always felt that if I had stayed I would get quiet. I get quiet sometimes anyway; it’s in my blood. I hole up, paint myself into a space and stay there for awhile. It would’ve been worse on the farm. Though to be the only one for miles and miles is wonderful, calming, a big deep breath, pretty soon that space presses in on me the same way the buildings and cars and freeways do here. It’s beautiful. It’s terrifyingly vast. All you’ve got in that kind of space is yourself, and eventually the sound of your own breath makes you crazy.
I can be the girl who will always support you through your decisions, no matter what. When everyone tells you you’re crazy, I will stand firmly by your side, and reassure you that your thoughts are one of a kind.
I can be the girl who will always be the same for you. When you feel like everything around you is changing and it becomes overwhelming, you can always come back to me and feel security in the fact that I will be as you remembered me. Our relationship will have stayed the way it was when we were the happiest.
I can be the girl who will talk you through your problems. If you ever need someone to just listen, I can be that person for you. I will listen patiently and intently, as if everything you said were the words I worshipped. Then, I will give you the best advice I can possibly give, because all I want for you is to feel at ease with your problems solved.
I can be the girl who will always be smiling for you. You won’t ever have to worry about negativity around me because I will always be that cheerful, optimistic girl who can lift your spirits. You can depend on me to be carefree and think of all things as good and well in the world. You can depend on me to inspire you to think positively and to put a smile back on your face.
I can be the girl who will understand when you’re having a bad day. I won’t question you if you suddenly stopped talking to me. I’ll give you space if that’s what you need. I’ll understand that you will be yourself again. I’ll comfort you if that’s what you want, and I won’t pester you to tell me if you don’t want to.
I can be the girl who does all these things for you, but I also hope that you can be the one who does these things for me.
The past week, the mainstream media has been dominated by the story of Malaysian Flight 370, the plane that went missing over the Indian Ocean without a trace. Every cable news outfit has had “up to date” information on the story, despite any new details really coming to light. While I’m not arguing that a missing plane isn’t newsworthy, why is there so much coverage dedicated to a lack of information? It’s almost as if the media is keeping the story on the front page artificially. It’s almost as if the attention is manufactured.
To me, the case of MH370 draws immediate comparisons to Chandra Levy and Natalee Holloway. The story sits at the top of the ticker, with no new details and no new information. The story is compulsively engrained in our collective conscious. It begs the question, is this just another case of Missing Plane Syndrome? Would anyone care if the MH370 wasn’t a plane, but instead was a woman of color?
Well, luckily, we don’t have to speculate, because a relevant case happened just a year ago. Not a single major outlet covered it, but in May of 2013, a woman named Talice Howard disappeared over Lake Ontario. She was gone without a trace. To this day, no one knows where she is.
Talice, a 35 year old administrative assistant from Toledo, started her Tuesday like any other. She was refueled at the Dunkin Donuts on I-35 by the mile 200 marker, she reported in to work, and at 12:35 she was cleared to take off for her lunch break.
“The last contact we had was at 12:45pm,” says Michael Alonzo, an African American controller at the Federal African American Administration, the government agency responsible for tracking the movements of African Americans. He points to a label on the monitor: AA175, the FAAA designation for Talice’s call sign.
“Here she is, ascending to about 30 thousand feet, at which point she reports, ‘I’m on break,’ and then the signal goes completely black,” he slumps back in his chair, “she turned off her transponder.”
All African Americans are required to keep and maintain a transponder that tracks their movements per FAAA regulation. While the transponders are checked before takeoff, it is entirely possible for the transponders to lose power or run out of minutes, in which case the only way of tracking African Americans is through visual confirmation.
“Basically, without that transponder, and if they aren’t smiling, we have no way of telling where they are,” states Alonzo. “It’s an antiquated system, but unfortunately it’s all we have.”
Efforts to update the system have been met with pushback by the industry. Air Jordan, one of the most powerful corporations in the industry, consistently lobbies to prevent Washington from imposing regulations that would require them to update the transponders in their sneakers. A call to their headquarters regarding their plans to update their tracking software for African Americans is met with denial and hostility.
“Excuse me, how did you get this number?” demanded a company rep. Soon after, they requested that I stop calling, and hung up once again.
This still doesn’t explain the media’s refusal to cover such stories. Just why is it that a missing plane on the other side of the world commands more attention than a story about a missing African American woman from the United States?
I think the answer here is clear: we live in a society that values airplanes more than it values people of color. Until we live in a world where stories like Talice’s aren’t buried, any talk of true equality and the death of racism are at best wishful thinking, and realistically, placating lip service. A combination of Bernoulli’s principle and the Coanda effect can explain how African Americans and airplanes are able to stay aloft–but what’s holding up our false belief of a post-racial society? To this reporter, it’s nothing but a bunch of hot air.