Adventure #6:… and the unexpected.

Adventure #6 was supposed to be the parade in Chinatown celebrating the Chinese New Year, but I got my dates mixed up and realized I was supposed to be about 40 miles south volunteering and my participation in said festivities would be impossible.  Sad clown.  I volunteer two times a year for the high school organization Snowball that sponsors a Thursday- Sunday retreat.   The focus of this organization is leadership and team building activities that allow small groups of 12 with one teen and one adult leader facilitating the group to work together in a drug-free, 0% peer pressure environment. They focus not only on the group as a unit but on the individual; preparing them to make healthy lifestyle choices in order to acquire success.  The kids sleep in cabins and the support staff that helps implement the schedule and keeps the retreat on track stay in the main house.  We feed the teens in the mess hall, some meals being catered in, other meals made by the camp itself.

That weekend was planned to be my last.  I had been involved for the past 14 years and I decided that it had been a good run and it was time to let the next group of volunteers take over.  Several others decided to retire as well and so come Saturday night, we were all a bit emotional.  We sat around talking about all the pranks we played on each other and all the laughs we’ve shared.  At about 12 a.m., one of the adult leaders came in from her cabin to report that one of the teens had gotten sick and had vomited.  The teen was brought to the nurse, treated, and then released to go back to her cabin.  About 5 minutes later, another leader from another cabin reported a girl in her cabin had gotten sick.    At that moment, we get a call over the walkie saying another girl had woken up and vomited all over her bed.  Hmmmmm…….ironic.  The girls were brought over to sit in the nurse’s office and were given a plastic bag….you know, just in case.  Let’s forward to 6 a.m. and 32 kids later.  All kids would wake up and either puke all over the place or just outside their cabins.  We were getting calls left and right about kids just waking up from their sleep to vomit.  It was like the movie “Stand By Me” without the castor oil and the woman vomiting in her purse, although puking all over your sleeping bag and cabin was just as picturesque.  We had a makeshift emergency center with garbage bags, that puke powder,  and plastic gloves; ready for the next call.  The support staff spent their last night at a snowball retreat cleaning up kids puke…what a way to spend Valentine’s Day.  I like to refer to it now as Valentine’s Vomit-palooza.  Instead of chocolate, we got chunks of chicken.  We had to end the weekend early and had all participants call their parents to come get them.  Kids were still puking as they were getting picked up.  One girl almost made it.  She had one foot out the door when she leaned over to hurl in the waste basket.

Food poisoning? Epidemic?? Who knows….all I know is that I felt like I was in an episode of Medical Diagnosis.

What a night…….oy….writing this story just gave me the yucks…..

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