Monday, June 27, 2011

Top Ten Things Thankful for While at Summer Camp

I am one of the many high school teachers who works during his so-called summer vacation to earn a little bit extra. I'm fortunate to be one of the debate coaches able to work at a debate summer camp. Every year about this time, I spend four weeks living in a dorm with over 200 hundred high school students. I am the Assistant Director of Residential life, or better known as the Dorm Dad.

While earning the extra money is great, the four months can be trying. I am accustomed to sleeping in a plush king size bed. Here I sleep on a twin bed without a box spring which takes some adjustment. Then there's the dorm food. (I've long bypassed this by bringing food for breakfast and lunch). The hours are crazy and it's nearly impossible to maintain any semblance of a healthy sleep schedule because we alternate office and on call hours.

Last night, I was thinking -- despite some of the relative hardships -- there are a few things for which I am thankful. Here is my Top 10 List of things I am thankful for during summer camp:

10. Taco Cabana - This fast food Mexican restaurant has one of the best nutritional guides for a fast food joint  and it has some healthy choices at affordable prices. I particularly like their build-your-own taco bowls. 
9. Better Oats - This is a nifty way to eat oatmeal daily. The packaging pouch also acts as a measuring cup for water. A pouch of water added to the contents in a paper bowl, nuked for 2 minutes and I have a hearty and healthy bowl of oatmeal.
8. Poncho Liner - I don't know what it is, but even as warm as the dorms get, I can't sleep without some sort of cover. The US Army poncho liner I received when I went through boot camp in 1984 still serves me well. This is the best piece of equipment I was ever issued in the Army. It is light weight and keeps you warm enough during fall, but it's light enough not to heat you up during the summer.
7. APOGEE WiFi - The wifi in the dorms has been nothing short of excellent. Even when the students return from lab and you know they are all doing research, the speed remains fast. This has enabled me to continue to blog, track foods on Weight Watchers, surf and watch online videos.
6. Handbrake - This freeware software allowed me to rip DVD's of movies and TV series like Seinfeld and Friends we own. While there is some debate about whether or not this fair use under the law, my personal opinion is that a person should be able to convert DVD's he purchased into a more mobile format. Being able to "handbrake" those movies onto my hard drive saved me from having to lug all those DVD's to camp and risk losing them in the process.
5. Netflix - While I am at camp, I really do cut the cord. The last thing I want to do is lug around something as big as a TV. Netflix, especially the iPad/iPhone app, has allowed me to watch movies and TV shows (I'm stuck on Scrubs right now) while I am eating a meal or when I am winding down at night (or early morning).
4. iPad - This will be my first year at the camp with our iPad. The biggest advantage I've gained from having it with me is that I can leave my laptop in my room when I have duty. I can use the iPad to check mail, review roster lists on Dropbox or read a book while I have office duty. I also use it to watch Netflix when I am going to bed.
3. King of Fans - Over the years I have worked at this summer camp, my biggest complaint has been the temperature in the rooms. Admittedly I like it cold so I am setting myself up for disappointment, especially when temps can hit 100 n the Texas summer. This year, I brought my super velocity King of Fans and I am very comfortable.
2. Close to Home - Now we can't take advantage of this all the time, but I do like the close proximity to home. It's about a 25 minute drive between the camp and our house. This means, Stacey can come and have dinner with me at least one night a week. It also means if I have forgotten to bring something she can bring it to me more easily. Recently, Denton opened its train system. I am tempted to try taking the train home once while I am here.
1. Gmail Video Chat - The one thing that helps keep me sane is the ability to video chat with Stacey every night before she goes to bed. It makes it seem like I am not really away from home. I also like the fact that I can see and "talk" to my puppies: Calvin and Hobbes.

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