Around the world and back

Hi All,

Well I hope you enjoyed Round 1 of Where in the World is Eric Forti! If you missed out on the fun, I went all the way to Australia. I had a crazy itinerary to get there (Philadelphia – San Francisco – South Korea – Thailand – Melbourne, Australia) and a not so crazy trip back (Sydney – Los Angeles – Philadelphia)! As many of you know, I am an airline fanatic and so while I will admit the routing there was absolutely ridiculous, it was sort of fun as well. I met a few random people along the way, ate tons of food, saw tons of movies, and perhaps the best part was 12-hour flights with NO CELL PHONE AND NO BLACKBERRY ACCESS. In this always connected, always-on world, it’s sort of cool to be disconnected (for a limited time only). You see even at camp, I don’t carry a cellphone or blackberry, but people can always bother me (did I say bother, I mean call me!) via walkie talkie. So, airplanes are one of the only places to go. Actually, I don’t know if this is true, but a flight attendant (yes I spend lots of time in the galleys talking to the flight attendants) met a very senior executive at a large corporation who claims to take flights to Hawaii and back in the same day sometimes, just to force disconnection from devices. Now that’s a bit extreme, even I admit it!

Australia was absolutely amazing. I know I sound like a broken record every year, but it truly is such a great place. The people are so friendly and cool and will go out of your way to make sure you are comfortable and happy. Speaking of people, I got to see tons of staff:

Chad Raines- an outdoor adventure counselor (back when we hired staff for whitewater rafting trips- now we use an outside company) as well as groupleader from 2000 – 2002 (I think!) When he was at camp, I was a counselor for B-2!

Jim Price– lake director EXTRAODINAIRE who was with camp from 2002 until 2008 with a few years off in between. Him and his wife Tracy (who has worked pre and postcamp at Canadensis, but worked at her own camp in Maine during summers) have an adorable 1-year old baby Ben. Happy Birthday Ben and I hope you enjoy the Canadensis t-shirt. You may remember Jim as the person who TRIED to teach me how to surf last trip down under. This year, thankfully, there were NO attempts at surfing.

Lauren Berry– horseback riding counselor in 2009 and groupleader in 2010. She will be returning as a GL this summer and it was great to catch up with her. She of course knows all the chocolates and biscuits (cookies) that I like and so she brought me some amazing goodies

Justin Winch– 6 years at Canadensis as a counselor, groupleader, and now as programming director. He will most likely (fingers crossed) be returning for his 7th summer in 2011.

Phoebe Gurrrrrrrrr– OK, a few less RRRR’s! Phoebe has been at camp for a LONG time and only skipped one year. She is doing awesome, says hello to everyone, and will be returning as groupleader for Summer 2011. She helped organize a FUN dinner outside overlooking the beach with tons of staff from the past (see below)! Thanks Phoebe for always being a gracious host!

Dale Jamieson– Dale only worked one summer, but will hopefully be coming back in 2012 for another round. He worked at the lake as was co-counselor with our very own Jcal. Dale lives on the water and every year has arranged to take me out on his boat (you all know by now I love all transportation methods).We actually took his boat into the city of Melbourne and got “stuck” there due to high seas. Always an adventure! We had so much fun and I can’t wait to see him next year.

Jye Freer– Jye was a lake staff member last year and will be returning again. Really excited for his second summer and it was great to catch up with him. He will be arriving in May for precamp!!

Steph Jenkins– Steph worked at camp as a GL a few years ago (I forget the exact years) and a few years ago introduced me to the Tim Tam Slam at Maccas (McDonalds!) with a cookie dipped in hot chocolate and “slammed” into your mouth…yummy!

Nicola & Edwina Harvey– They worked at camp Summer 2008 and I call them the “twins”! I wonder why. I was introduced to them by Phoebe and we met at Boost Juice. I think that’s where I discovered Boost…amazing fruit smoothies and they know I am obsessed with Boost! They have done tons of traveling sine their summer at camp, but are back home in Melbourne now working retail. It was awesome to catch up with them.

Allie Hassenger– Allie spent her last 2 summers at camp working at the pool and is now studying abroad in Adelaide (small country city type place in the Southern middle of Australia). I am VERY jealous that she gets to live there until August.

Eddie Lewis– Eddie worked at Hondas for us the past 2 summers and ironically enough was hired in JUNE when we moved a staff member from Hondas to the lakefront. Eddie is awesome at what he does and although he wont be back at camp this summer, I have a feeling he is going to miss it a lot!

Jackie Page– Jackie was an awesome gymnastics counselor last summer and worked with the Junior Girls. She will be returning this coming summer as Gymnastics program director!

James Richardson– James worked in the woodshop the last 2 summers and has helped develop our woodshop program. He has come up with a lot of the projects you all made last summer and is very talented at what he does!

Todd James– Last, but certainly not least, Todd worked summer 2007 at our lakefront and did an awesome job. I am hoping he returns Summer 2012, which is a possibility! He has done tons of traveling since camp as well, including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and now is in Japan! Very jealous Todd, I love to travel.

I think I got everyone (I certainly hope so). Well, there is one more guy I should mention because this is an awesome story, at least I think it is. Joel Wiseman. Joel is a record at Camp Canadensis, in that he is the only camper we have ever had at Camp Canadensis! You see his brother, Luke, worked at camp in the late 90’s as Lake Director and one summer brought his younger brother Joel and his mum (spelled the Aussie way) Gay to camp. Gay was an OUTSTANDING, compassionate, and friendly nurse who worked in our health center in Summer 1998, while Joel was a camper in Boys Bunk 2. When we met, he told me that he had the best counselor ever. Well maybe he didn’t say that, but I am, because I WAS HIS COUNSELOR! Hard to believe that I was a counselor? Well, I was for 5-years and lived in Boys Bunk 2 (our youngest campers). I distinctly remember tons of Joel stories, and at breakfast we discussed one where HIS NASTY, SMELLY socks were underneath my pillow. Boy was I angry with him and brought him to the camp director (it wasn’t me or Brian Krug in 1998!). He was crying and still to this day insist it wasn’t him, but deep down I know it was him. Oh well Joel, I put my nasty socks in your omelet at the hotel last weekend….haha.

So, overall Australia was a huge success. Because of the severe flooding in Brisbane, the fair was a little smaller than I would have hoped, but I (along with some staff above) interviewed tons of staff and only hired the best…we let the ones who were just under the best go to other camps! It looks like we will have somewhere between 15-20 Aussies/Kiwis this summer, which will enhance the Canadensis experience as it always does. Aussies are known to be fun and crazy at the same time.

So where am I now? Well, I returned home late Monday night (thanks Robin for picking me up at the airport!) and went to bed a few hours later. As an aside, Monday was the longest day ever…I left my hotel at 9:30AM Australia time, the flight left at 12:30PM Monday and arrived in LA at 7AM Monday. So, I traveled backwards in time. I still don’t get how that happens (the dateline has to do with it- not the NBC show!) Anyway, I went to work on Tuesday until 8pm (don’t feel bad for me…Robin cooked a nice dinner when I got home…my only request was no airline, microwaveable meal!). Wed AM I woke up to tons of snow and with a flight at 6PM to Florida, I was nervous about it being canceled. Luckily I switched to a noon flight (and yes my original 6PM was canceled) and flew to Fort Myers, FL to see Aunt Terri and do some work down here. I had a few meetings discussing the summer plans for our dining hall/kitchen and even better planned the menus for the coming summer. We met with a pro at camp food service and added tons of cool things to the menu. How about Whipped Cream at breakfast? (No, not every day!). Or, those cheese sticks that you all went NUTSO over last summer with dinner one night…should we have them more often? How about some sweet potato fries? And one more small thing….MORE FRESH FRUIT! We know you want more alternatives and more options and we will be doing just that. So, we have tons more ideas…I just mentioned the small ones to get you excited! The surveys you filled out were very happy with the food quality, but we heard some of your ideas and are excited to implement them this summer.

Right now, I am at 33,000 feet (I think it’s my second home)…camp is my first home clearly, 33,000 feet in a metal tube is my second, my car is my 3rd home, and my house in Ambler, PA is my 4th…I may or may not be kidding! Unfortunately, this aircraft doesn’t have wifi so jcal will post this for me when I connect to the internet next- thanks Jcal!

Over the next 2 weeks I have tons of home visits both in the Philly area and in NJ, so I hope to see many of you on the road. Then, in 2 weeks I head out on Round 2 of Where in the World is Eric Forti, this time with a special guest visitor. One who has a passport (which is required for our trip), but has NEVER left the country! Should be an awesome trip, seeing many of our staff members once again, oh and doing some work as wellJ For now, I think it’s time to put my seat in the upright, locked, and most UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION EVER!