by Haley Goetz
It was bonfire night. There were about fifty to seventy high schoolers sitting around the lake’s edge, near the raging fire. The rest were off in the game room or coupled up in the bushes. I had no clue where any of the counselors were, nor why everyone was still up past midnight when we had to be up at six in the morning for our race across the lake. I realized that it truly didn’t matter, though. When I made it back to my cabin, I beheld another sight entirely.
See, most of the counselors at this rowing camp were from the most prestigious colleges in America. There was a coxswain with a full ride to Yale, a Georgetown legacy, and a Brown student who was an Olympic hopeful. My cabin’s counselor also hailed from Brown. When I returned back to the cabin late that night, the Georgetown boy was there. He was holding a broom in one hand and seemed to be more than a bit intoxicated. The rest of my cabin was sitting in their beds, just sort of staring at this man-child. He swayed on his feet and slurred. At one point, he started waving the broom and cursing at us. My counselor was sitting on her bed, giggling at him. She didn’t seem to mind, and when we asked if he was drunk, all she said was “Nahhhhh.” Turns out the Yale coxswain had to be driven to urgent care that night, as she had passed out on the floor of her cabin due to alcohol poisoning.
The next day, everyone in my cabin woke up bright and early for our race. It was a 3K across the lake on which the camp is located in central Maine. My boat was as ready as it would ever be. As we made our way to the start at the other end of the lake, we came up to one of the counselors in a single racing shell. As I looked closer, I could see vomit on his tank top. A relic of the debauchery of the prior night, I could only assume. We all made it across the lake in one piece. The vomit dude actually beat us, believe it or not, but we still came in third place out of all of the other female boats.
My experience at rowing camp strengthened my skills as an athlete for sure, but most of all it helped me to observe. I saw the sport of rowing for what it was, and is. A leisure activity for the wealthy, or at least for their offspring who hope to ship off to the Ivy League. I enjoyed the effect that going to this camp had upon me. It prompted me to notice, come to conclusions, and, believe it or not, enjoy people more. If I hadn’t gone to this camp, I never would have met any of these characters, and wouldn’t that have been unsatisfactory?