She’s Got a Job!

CSF counselor

DJ has a job!  Employed!  A tax paying citizen.  Well, I don’t think she’s gonna make enough to be a tax payer, but she will get a paycheck.

She’s going to work at Camp Seafarer this summer.  It’s a resident camp on the coast with a focus on boating.  I think she’s gonna have a great time.  She attended as a camper and loved it.

I worked at Seafarer’s brother camp, Sea Gull, back in 1988.  It was fun, but it was hard work.  I was the Head Counselor for the first 18 cabins – the youngest kids.

I have a ton of fond memories about the summer I spent down in Arapahoe, NC.  The Tuesday lunch of fried bologna and cabbage was not one of them.

Each week the campers had to write home to their parents.  One day a boy in cabin 1, he was six, sent a postcard to his mother.  He forgot to address it so the note was returned to camp.

The office manager pulled me in, “Danny, I think you have a problem.”

Because it was a postcard, we could read what he’d written.  It went something like this:

Dear Mom,

There’s these boys here and they’re talking about your boobies.


Apparently during rest period a couple of the kids were having some conversations about Mikey’s mom’s breasts.  I saw her on opening day – some of the counselors were also talking about Mikey’s mom’s upper half.  We were just smart enough not to do it in front of him.

One morning at camp I was awoken at 6 AM by the senior counselor in Cabin 2.

“Danny, where are you?”

He was in a panic.

“I’m missing a kid.  Christopher is gone!”

I sprinted to his duplex.  He was right.  Christopher’s bed was empty, and we’d checked the entire cabin, twice.

I ran to camp’s headquarters and instructed them to make an announcement over the camp intercom system.  Mind you, very few people were awake at this time of day and the camp was huge, over 1,000 people on campus.

Christopher Miller, please report to Cabin 2 immediately.  The loud-speaker blared.

I sent counselors to the riverfront just to be sure.  We were running in and out of the camp 1 cabins waking staff to get their assistance.

About 10 minutes into the search, the counselor from Cabin 4 emerged with our missing person.

Apparently he slept walked out of cabin 1 and moseyed down to cabin 4 in the middle of the night.  He jumped in bed with another kid, snuggled up and went right to sleep.

I never went to camp as a kid; I wouldn’t leave my mom that long.  I didn’t even particularly enjoy spending the night at Stephen Mozena’s house, and he was my best friend.

There was a younger camper that summer named Josh.  He was seven years old, perhaps a little young for a four-week stay away from home, and Josh missed his mama.  He’d tear up when his counselor would dip his green beans.  He’d sob as the camp would stand on the mess hall benches and sing the favored camp song:

Oh they built the ship Titanic and when they had it through

they said they had a ship that the water could not go through

but the Lord’s almighty hand said that ship would never stand

Oh it was sad when that great ship went down.

Come to think of it, that is an odd theme song for a boating camp.

Anyway, poor Josh cried and cried and cried.  When I wasn’t frustrated with him because he was blowing his summer and an incredible opportunity, my heart went out to him.

There were 200 campers under my direction so I tried to spread my time wisely hanging out with groups at a time.  But one day, I decided I’d spend the entire afternoon with Josh.  I asked him what he wanted to do.

“Danny, will you take me sailing?”

What Josh didn’t know was that I wasn’t a sailor.  I’d been on a Sunfish once, and it was three weeks earlier during staff training.  But it actually didn’t look that hard to me so I strapped our life vests on and we headed out to the moorings.  I signed us out, and we got on this two-man vessel.

The wind was strong that day, perfect for sailing. Well, perfect if you knew what you were doing. I did not. And I think it freaked Josh out when we capsized the first time. I know it did the second time. And the third time was just too much. The dingy came and drug us landlubbers in.

Interestingly, the next day was the first that Josh didn’t cry. Maybe it was because I shared with him about my hesitance to sleepover at Steven ‘s as a child. Or perhaps it was because he figured if he could survive the Sunfish with me, he could take on anything at camp. Who knows? But he loved the last week he was with us.

I think DJ is going to be a super addition to the Seafarer summer sailing staff primarily because she actually knows how to sail.




Leave a comment


  1. Bethgentile

     /  May 7, 2014

    Bruce! So excited for Bailey ! Lisa would be SO proud and would love this opportunity !!

    Have a great day! Beth


  2. Missy Mangum

     /  May 7, 2014

    I loved summer camp as a child – it got me away for the incredibly long list of chores my mother would write up daily and post on the frig (plus we had no tv). My children have chores too, but they like home (and our tv) way too much. Warn DJ that my youngest is going to Seafarer for the first time (4 weeks) and I might call to find out what she needs to REALLY bring (stuff not on the packing list but should be).

  3. Mom

     /  May 7, 2014

    I laughed out loud when I read about you and your sailing adventure. I’m sure it wasn’t funny to either of you at the time but you know how I always laugh at the wrong time. In hindsight it was a funny adventure. That kid is probably telling of his water dumping adventure with this crazy counselor to some of his own kids now to assure them that they can survive summer camp.

  4. Congratulations to DJ!! What a moment!
    And what great memories to share! 🙂

  5. What a cool job for a teenager!!!

  6. Lisa

     /  May 7, 2014

    How wonderful. I loved reading your stories of camp life. I loved camp when I was young too, especially when I went with a buddy.

    My three daughters went to Seafarer.
    My middle daughter, Craven, was born to camp. She went 6 summers in a row. It always felt like going home. What an awesome place. I hope DJ lives it!

  7. Good Stories. I like the boobies one. 🙂 lol

  8. Aunt Susan

     /  May 7, 2014

    Of course the camp and summer will be so much better with her there as a counselor. She is a super big sister! Congrats and lots of fun!

    good thing you didn’t know your F-In-L back then! or maybe you should have.

  9. All my best memories, best friends, and best life skills came from my time as a camp counselor. I loved it so much that I continued working in camping for 17 summers, even after I became a teacher. There is nothing that happens in my classroom that I cannot handle as a result of my camp life. I can entertain 97 kids in a bathroom during a tornado, get 8 six year-olds through tooth brushing and showering in under 30 minutes, and light a one-match fire. Some future employer is going to be really grateful for the skill set DJ is about to develop because being a great camp counselor is the ability to create order out of delightful, magical chaos.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 7, 2014

      I wish more employers would see the value in working at a camp. Most kids think they need internships in the business world. You are right, camp teaches leadership and skills that are transferable.


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