The Naivete of Youth

Gorgeous as Justin Bieber

The kids from last week were from the international school that I visited last year, after working with them at a site in Spring 2009.  Different kids, though, 9-10 years old. And with a very strange disassociation from reality, which we, as counselors, preyed upon.

  • Ace/Acebot

I have a robot character named Acebot (my camp name is ‘Ace’).  The costume changes. This one is more elaborate than usual: a decorated cardboard box, sunglasses, half of a silver-painted basketball on my head and duct tape wrapped around my palms. And then, I do a robot voice.  Usually, the kids like it.  Rarely do they question if I’m Acebot, as it’s pretty much a given.

This group, and especially one kid, “Darth Eric/Erican Skywalker”, asked if I was Acebot. Such an honest question could not be taken lightly. I informed him that Acebot was an imperfect duplicate of me.

The next day, Darth Eric said he wanted to see a skit involving Acebot’s creation.

We worked out a plan where Beaver would be under a sheet, with my passport (read: nametag) and sandals poking out. This caused tremendous debate as to if it was me or not. When I came out as Acebot, there was a stunned silence, followed by arguments amongst the kids as to who was under the sheet.  The argument mostly hinged upon the fact that the noiseless Beaver had my sandals and passport.

These arguments persisted throughout the week, in other forms.

  • Otis/Leo

Otis, a bearded Arkansan, was like the noogie-giving older brother to the kids all week. Until he told them that he had to go to Macon and his brother Leo would be coming.  I didn’t know what was up, as Leo was a former counselor who was leaving as I was arriving.

Dinner came and Otis was nowhere to be seen.  All of a sudden, a clean-shaven Otis entered the dining room. And introduced himself as Leo.  Complete with a passport (once again, read: nametag).

And at my table, the debate ensued.  Despite the fact that ‘Leo’ had the same scratch on his neck (explained away by it being a birthmark), Jenny, a girl at my table loudly argued in French that it was impossible for it to be Otis, as the passport was different.  The argument extended to Boom (the last night’s dance), when he finally came clean, much to the surprise of some of the kids.

  • Gorgeous/Justin Bieber

Best for last. Gorgeous is a short, blonde Virginian who has taken to playing Justin Bieber. Light brown wig, hoodie and sunglasses on her tiny frame.  Two weeks ago, with the roughneck 17 year olds, “Justin Bieber” was booed. This past week, with the 10 year olds, ‘he’ was revered. But more than that, the girls swooned.

At Boom, when “Justin Bieber” made a surprise appearance, he was swarmed.  They girls asked ‘him’ for autographs and then bragged when ‘he’ was “singing just for [them]”.

Gorgeous was a bit bothered by all of this, saying half-sarcastically that she was unintentionally screwing with their sexuality for years to come.

All-in-all, I’ve never seen the kids buy so heavily into the characters and the random camp lies that we tell them.  I guess there’s something refreshing about that, esp. when you’re involved in a podcast with two jaded Chicagoans. But still, it’s a mindblow.

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