Imagine a small wooden cabin in the middle of the woods. You open the screen door and then strongly shove the next door with your hip while turning the knob to open it. The already hot day increases about five degrees in temperature and 10% in humidity as you step inside. A foot and a half in front of you there is a blue-checkered couch. In the dark, you may stub your toe(s) or mistakenly walk into it if you forget it resides there. To both your left and right there are closets overflowing with square dance dresses, random pairs of flip-flops and hiking boots, and mismatched pieces of bathing suits. Suitcases, backpacks, and totes lacking space inside extend from the closet so that any exposed floor space is covered. Within the door-swinging radius of each closet, there are two dressers. A handful of drawers are open, revealing blouses begging to be folded and the occasional piece of trash in need of being disposed. Behind each of the dressers are a set of bunk beds. The four wooden beds are smothered with initials, quotes, and drawings permanently plastered in Sharpie and are accompanied by a dozen or so photos push-pinned to the frames. Only the top left bunk is made with the blankets neatly folded at the foot of the bed. The others are messes of technicolor blankets, pillows, and hoodies—evidence of one too many snoozes on the alarm clock and girls rushing out the door to be on time for their morning jobs.
You walk in between the bunks and pass the slanting shelves on the walls (they’re deceivingly sturdy) and enter the bathroom, which is considered the pride and joy of the cabin due to the unusual (meaning normal) amount of light. The line of bright circular lights at the top of the wide mirror makes the space almost seem like a movie star’s makeup room (if you turn a blind eye to the mold growing up the walls and the constant but homey smell of ferns and dirt). To the left is the toilet room and to the right is the shower. In between there are a few hooks and towel racks, all stuffed to the brim with shower, face, and swim dock towels along with lifeguarding suits and wet clothes. The sink space is cluttered with a combination of hair straighteners and dryers, toothbrushes, fake flowers, face washes, and mascara. If it wasn’t obvious already, the numerous boxes of Tampax in the corner of the bathroom are proof that this space is dominated by a group of teenage girls.
Welcome to my summer home—our room is called the Taj. And believe it or not, our quad is the nicest and largest of the female staff cabins, and is the only one to boast its own bathroom. Though don’t let the word “nicest” throw you off—please don’t expect any glamour when it comes to our room. When I moved in, the Taj greeted me with a weeklong and seemingly larger than life allergy-attack, though it was nothing that a little lot-bit of Claritin couldn’t fix. Though don’t get me wrong, I love living with three of my closest friends. In fact, the four girls in our room are Sarah, Sarah, Sayre, and Hannah. Talk about confusing…I could write for days about our funny stories, but I won’t bore you with our inside jokes. And in case you were wondering, my bunk is the top right—not to be confused with the neat and made top left (that would be Hannah’s).
As much as I would love to chill in my room with my roomies all day, my job keeps me pretty busy. This summer I am one of two outdoors program leaders for 13, 14, and 15 year olds at a summer community called Pocono Lake Preserve. I spend my days planning and taking my friends’ younger siblings biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and camping. Having just graduated from high school, knowing that I’m getting paid to work a dream job, and anticipating college in the coming weeks, I can honestly say that life is good.
Last week, our outdoor adventure program joined with the younger kids’ activities program to go on a blueberry picking and then cobbler baking excursion (this was definitely an “I love my job” kind of day…). We carpooled and jammed to Ke$ha on our way to one of the prime blueberry picking spots on the Preserve with our varsity blueberry picking squad and then did a clean sweep of all the bushes within a 100-yd radius of the campsite. Listening to the rewarding plunk of blueberries hitting the bottom of my pail took me back to my childhood of picking and cooking blueberry pancakes and reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories, Blueberries for Sal. Though unlike Sal, I’m glad that we did not run into any bears on this blueberry picking adventure…
Anyway, we picked berries and poured them all into one large bucket. A worm also sneakily snuck himself into our pail, though we fortunately spotted him right before putting the cobbler in the oven. I could tell that a few of the moms were scarred based on their faces of disgust and open jaws, but, hey, what’s a little extra protein? After collecting our prized berries, we took a quick, refreshing dip in the lake since it was the recorded hottest day of the summer before heading back to the Dining Camp Kitchen to assemble our cobbler.
Let me just tell you, cooking with seven year olds is interesting. I never knew that stirring was such a big deal. Everyone wanted to help with everything. Thank goodness it was a super easy recipe. And when I say super easy, I really mean super easy. With our super-enthusiastic varsity squad of pickers and bakers, we assembled this cobbler in about six minutes. So if you’re ever looking for a simple, speedy, and succulent treat, here’s a perfect and extremely kid-friendly recipe:
Easy Blueberry Cobbler
Time: 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes bake
Ingredients: 3 cups fresh blueberries, 1 tbl lemon juice, 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg beaten, ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp butter, melted.
Directions: Place blueberries in a 10 x 6 x 2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar, and egg. Stir until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Spread with blueberries. Drizzle butter over topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream. *Note: any fruit can be substituted for the blueberries.