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HC Abroad: Sleepy in the Teepee

It’s been an eventful week here at La Mazure in northern France! Yesterday was one of the busiest days of the whole session, with a long hike through the woods and a night spent in the teepees on site. I have to admit that once I volunteered to be the female counselor to supervise the teepee sleepover, I was nervous. I anticipated getting zero sleep, having to police the kids who were trying to sneak into each other’s teepees or shush them all night. But once I threatened that if they weren’t quiet their ‘boom’ privileges would be taken away, all I heard was silence and French crickets for the rest of the night.

A boom is a dance party in France, but booms are only for kids. You might hear Ke$ha here but you won’t see any bottles of Jack. The kids love them, and each session is treated to a boom in the middle of the week and another on the last night. Tonight’s boom went off without a problem, and the kids danced the night away hopped up on gummy candy and limonade, basically a sparkling lemonade.


What’s so great about the booms is that not only are the kids having a great time, you get to relive all those awkward middle school moments without any of the embarassment or rushing hormones. Us counselors just dance like utter dorks and check our cares at the door.

Tomorrow all the kids from the first session will leave and give us time to prepare for the next lot. It’s going to be a sad day. I’ve really grown to love these kids and understand their unique personalities. It’s been an incredible experience so far, bridging the language gap and learning what styles work for certain campers. The rewarding feeling I get from connecting one camper to another or helping a Francophone kid become more comfortable as an anglophone is almost impossible to describe.

Though I’ll be sad to see them go, I have a feeling that the next group will be just as energetic and challenging. I’m switching from an activities counselor to an ESL (English as a second language) counselor and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve always wanted to teach but never gotten the chance, and here it is! Even without a diploma, I’ll be thrown into a classroom full of hungry young minds.

So before I get too teary-eyed I’m off to bed, ready to get a full night’s sleep that doesn’t involve waking up on a wooden board with a canvas roof over it and say goodbye to all these great kids.

Until next time, Clementine.

See more about my AmVill adventures here!

Kayla Riley is a senior studying journalism and English at the University of Maine. When she's not rushing around campus in fabulous shoes or making deadline, she can be found devouring the latest Jodi Picoult novel or being quippy with friends. She recently spent a semester at the American University in Bulgaria, studying and experiencing Eastern Europe's diverse culture all while learning how to ask for a pair of shoes in her size. She plans to publish her first novel before age 30 and travel the world even sooner. She is pursuing a career in journalism in the Boston area. Follow her on Twitter @KaylaRiley! 
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