I filled out the application and knew I would not hear from the program for a few months yet when the time came, I could hardly believe I actually got the envelope I’d hoped for.
I was invited to attend Camp Counselor Selection Weekend at Rock Eagle 4-H Camp near Eatonton, Georgia in January 1982.
Having attended summer camps and winter retreats at Rock Eagle throughout my high school years, the camp was almost like a second home at that point in my life.
However, this trip to Rock Eagle was different. It pitted me against all the other 4-H’ers from across Georgia who wanted to work at next summer’s camps. While it was invitation only and an honor, it was also a job, which would’ve helped me save money for college.
As I mentioned, it was January and colder than usual. I’d soon find out what it felt like to be in a petri dish as almost every move I made that weekend was under scrutiny. After all, the 4-H program wanted camp counselors who could engage with anyone from any walk of life. It would be the role of the camp counselor to serve in a multitude of roles ranging from confidante to trusted guide to disciplinarian should the need arise.
And then the night activities rolled around. This is where I really had to step outside of my farm town upbringing and try and make it work – I was being tested on whether I knew how to dance.
I mean, after all, what could be the problem? I had danced every summer at the camps I had attended, so I thought, ‘I can do this, right?’
Little did I know we had specific dances to learn and that was important to the counselors who were at Selection Weekend to make sure we had the right stuff to shake our groove things without crossing any boundaries with the campers.
They paired us off in this huge room, boy-girl, boy-girl, boy-girl, you get the picture. Fortunately, I was paired with a girl from Gray, Georgia whom I’d become friends with since ninth grade. We were told to stand there, look into each other’s eyes, hold hands and not make a move until the music started.
My palms were getting sweaty and I was feeling increasingly awkward. And then, that moment came. The dreaded music started.
Sandra smiled and seemed to do just fine as she danced along. Me, I just continued to feel more awkward with each beat. Still, I danced along merely doing what she was doing. Or so I thought. The room seemed to slow down while the dance music continued to play.
Before I knew it, I got a tap on left my shoulder from a seasoned counselor, a college student, named Don. It was his job to try and teach me the steps I needed to progress with the dance.
He pulled me away from Sandra who was then paired with another experienced counselor.
The awkward grew and grew as Don attempted to show me the dance steps I was supposed to learn from him. A guy trying to teach a guy to dance. If the room wasn’t on fire, my face certainly was.
That was certainly the day I learned I had two left feet, much like physical dyslexia.
And although I was never “diagnosed” with that malady, I certainly flip letters and other words around at times. I have even been known to twist around directions, which brings me to the modern era.
Last week, I typed the word ‘southbound’ when I should have typed ‘northbound’ in a police brief involving four people who had been going to different Walmart stores attempting to hawk stolen merchandise. It’s easy for me to say, that in the big picture of things, that was a tiny mistake. Regardless, I apologize for the error.
Just never ask me to dance.