Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Camp Game Haunts My Running

I wrote this some time ago...
I went to Camp Wasagahaben(something like that) when I was little. My memory was that I was 11ish(may have been 9 or 10). Old enough to want to be away from home but still young enough to miss home an awful lot. Some of the things that happened at that camp still haunt me to this day. This post is about one of those memories in particular but I'd like to share 3 other "hauntings" with you.

Camp Wasagahaben(??) was an overnight camp set in a lovely forested area on the edge of a beautiful lake. It had all the normal activities one might associate with such a camp like canoeing, swimming, tie dying, hiking etc. etc. When you are away at camp your parents are suppose to give, "Tuck Money" that you can spend to get treats at the "Tuck Shop". Well my Mom did not know this and did not include the extra $5 when she paid my fees so I had no credit at the Tuck shop and thus no treats for my entire stay. Not having the nightly ritual of going to the Tuck like everyone else and then having to sit and watch them enjoy their treats when I had none made me feel like an outsider. This was just at a time in my life when I was already feeling different not having a Dad at home and money was tight and going to this camp was a stretch on my Mom's budget to begin with and then there I was with no candy either. I began to feel like perhaps I was undeserving, different, less then those who had what I did not and this feeling has haunted me til this day

The second event that haunts me happened when I got stuck out on the lake during a storm in a boat and could not get back to shore. Another girl and I decided to take a row boat out to an island in the middle of the lake. The counselors laughed and said we would never make it and let us go and I rowed all the way there and rejoiced but was exhausted from the trip. When it was time to turn around the other girl tried to row but said her hands hurt and stopped, so I had no choice but to row and halfway back a storm blew in. They were yelling for everyone to get off of the water and I tried and tried to get to shore but we were being blown away from it and I remember the waves crashing in the boat. I was so tired and the other girl was screaming at me and crying but refusing to help and the counselors were yelling at me to get in and I remember pulling and pulling and going nowhere and the counselors just kept yelling and no one came to help us. I was in desperate trouble and scared and trying my best and they were all acting as though I was defying them and I could not wrap my mind around that and it haunts me.

The third and perhaps most disturbing haunting is about when we were tie dying T-shirts and I guess we were suppose to bring a white T- shirt to camp but again my Mom had missed this point and I had nothing to use. The only white thing I had was a pair of dirty white knee socks and when I handed them to the counsellors they all laughed at my dirty white socks and I was so ashamed I ran away and felt really small and dirty.

So now for the "haunting" this post is all about and you know it will lead back to running so here goes. Every night the campers would gather around the campfire and tell stories and sing and then it would end with a game. You may or may not be familiar with this game but I will explain how it worked as best as I can. A counselor would stand in the middle of the circle and tell a story. He/she would embellish the story using a stick they carried, pointing it, circling it, waving it. The story and embellishments were the exact same every evening and it was a challenge for the campers to get into the circle and tell the story exactly as the counsellor had done. If you were successful then you would be accepted into the, "special group" of people who had also mastered it. I of course jumped up on the first night confident I had memorized it already. The counselor handed me the stick and I did everything exactly as they had done it then I handed the stick back. "Nope, wrong", the counsellor said. No one else tried it that night but over the next week one at a time people tried and sometimes they were right and got accepted into the "special group" but most times they were wrong and were sent back to their place in the circle. I practiced everyday and then every night thinking that I had perfected it I would get into the circle and try again, and again and again. I memorized all the vocal inflections, any nuances of the sticks movement I thought might be the key, the foot positions, the body angle and so on and on and yet others were accepted(even if I found their rendition to be less then my own) into the special group. I knew I must be missing something so I pig-headedly continued to practice and again every night I was sent back, now amidst waves of laughter to my seat in the circle. So finally it was the last night of camp and I only had one chance left. Most others had given up trying but I was now more determined then ever as I stepped into the circle for the last time. The counsellor handed me the stick and I set out telling the story like it was the most magical story every told. Waving the stick, I was precise in my movements and never wavering I knew I had pulled off the best telling that anyone had ever given. I had after all done all and everything that I could do, no one had ever studied it more then I had. Surely there would be a roar of cheering as I was finally granted my place amongst my peers, "Nope!". I remember there was a gasp of disbelief from everyone, then laughter but none of that mattered. I was befuddle, dumbfounded, perplexed. I knew it was too late to be accepted into the, "special group" but I needed to know what the key was, the secret, the trick to it that I had missed so I asked the counsellor to please tell me what I had done wrong. I am sure he wasn't suppose to tell me because if the secret got out then they would be unable to continue on with this torturous practice in future years but after swearing me to secrecy(screw that) he took me aside and handed me the stick again. "Did you see that" he said, "when you are done telling the story you are suppose to switch the stick into your other hand before giving it back". I remember feeling mad and stupid all at the same time. It wasn't really the story telling after all, or how you waved that stupid stick around, it was all about how you handed the stick back. All of that wasted effort practicing the story and the motions when really in the end all that really mattered was how the stick was transferred back. It was not that you didn't need to know the story and the movements, but the real task at hand was all about how you handed the stick off, or the "change of support" of the stick. OK if the analogy didn't just hit you in the head then this is where the running part comes into it because you see I believe there is a trick to running that most everyone is missing. If you master this trick then you will be accepted into the, "special group". Elites have all figured out, fell into or just naturally discovered the trick to transferring the support of their sticks. I believe wholeheartedly that figuring out this trick is the only way to get into that group more then anything else you can spend your time doing.

So how do you learn the, "trick" if you don't have a counsellor take pity on you, swear you to secrecy and whisper it in your ear. Well I am going to tell you right now. The trick has everything to do with how you change support from one foot to the other and not as much to do with everything else you are doing. Yes you can and I am sure do enjoy running not knowing the trick. Everyone at camp had fun(except me) not knowing it and they had fun because they didn't care about the trick so much. I on the other hand could only focus on the trick and that is how I am with my running also. While everyone is out having fun I am trying to figure out the trick. Unfortunately the only thing about the trick is that there is a trick to the trick. The trick to the trick is how you change support without braking. I have a feeling that most people run with their parking break on, I know I have and still do most of the time. Just imagine owning a beautiful car with the most powerful engine then trying to drive it with the parking brake on. It might be the most powerful car on the road but if you keep the parking break on all of that engineering and fuel is going to go to waste. So how do you disengage the parking brake? Well the parking break engages when we try to catch ourselves when we are falling so the trick is to not catch your self but to stay in a constant state of falling. This is what Pose describes but has trouble teaching because once you learn to engage your parking brake it is really hard to convince your body that it can get by without it.

So that is where I am, haunted by a game from my past and also by this running game, I find I cannot move on until I master the trick which I am fully convinced I understand but am having varied success putting into practice. Next Sunday I will dare to step into that circle once again, ready to tell the story with all of my heart and haunted by that little girl who felt like an outsider with her dirty white socks who tried to get to shore and who never ever gave up trying.