Summer Camp Nightmares

It was more than 15 years ago, but I remember my own summer camp nightmare like it was yesterday.  One summer, back when I was writing my master’s thesis, I spent four weeks teaching in Costa Rica. This wasn’t an ordinary teaching assignment. 

I arrived in Costa Rica ready to embrace high school students looking for a challenge. What I got, was 14 high school girls expecting a tropical vacation. We were assigned to a tropical bird sanctuary. And that doesn’t sound too bad at first. But our main task was to wake up at 4am, before the heat of the day, and weed acres of maize — essentially food for the birds. As we hacked our way through the underbrush, watching for snakes, I could hear the girls cursing me out. It wasn’t that they hated me. They despised me.  To make matters worse, we were all roommates. We were housed, in one tiny, one room cabin. I would fall asleep to either giggles, or grumbles as I got out of bed, or a cautiously knocked on the door, a small courtesy to check if everyone was decent.

I’d like to say that I learned a lot about organic agriculture that summer. What I did learn, though, was how to live, or at least cope, with teenage girls. I was surrounded by them, and none of us had hardly any personal space.  

Weeks, later, after having received terrible evaluations, and being placed with a group of coffee farmers, and an amazing group of students, I realized that I had made it through the worst.

This week, with many of our farm members and friends just back, or literally just off to summer camp, we are waiting for the stories to come in.  This week on the farm, we are trellising, staking, and pruning some of our most important and valuable crops. We are all working overtime, kind of a nightmarish camp re-enactment. At market we’ll have some of these crops tomorrow — the first peppers and some eggplant. And one of my favorite, a large abundance of heirloom summer squash.

As I write, Mary and Kayla are muddling through the work. We’ve just done a limited harvest for tomorrow since the plant care and maintenance this week is so important, even vital to good production of tomatoes, where each fruit week counts, just like the days going by at summer camp.

Since we have to get out and finish work, and we need the entire team on board, I’ll be brief. We’ll have our own summer squash recipe at market, but if you can’t wait until tomorrow, or want to swing by this evening, we highly recommend our distant friend’s blog, Dishing up the Dirt. Since we will have basil at market tomorrow, we recommend the Roasted Summer Squash Pesto.