There was a last minute staffing change where I work which meant I was the only other person trained to take some of the girls out on a three week long canoeing excursion. I have been in the wilderness that long and have only just returned. That's the reason I haven't written/updated any fic in that long and also why I've been MIA from tumblr. I had an amazing time, but I'm excited to get back to writing (and sleeping in a bed)!
I'm going to leave the Knight's Tale AU for now because of personal reasons that I won't bore you with, but I'm going to set out on this adventure instead. I'd love it if you all would join me!
The first time Blaine stepped foot at Camp Firelight was when he was four years old. The youngest campers at the sleep away camp were eight, but his Dad was the unit director for intermediate camp and that meant he was able to attend the camp's day care program, Pooh Corner. Blaine had gone back every year, spending his summers canoeing, camping, playing every sport one can imagine, and making the best friends he could ever ask for. More than the boarding school where he spent all of high school, more than his dorm room at NYU, and definitely more than his family's stuffy Victorian in Westerville, Ohio, Blaine felt that the platform tents at camp were his home, even if he only got to live there for two months out of the year.
Things had grown and changed over the years since Blaine was in Pooh Corner. For one, his Dad had been promoted. He was now the program director and perhaps more importantly, Blaine was now a staff member himself. With his days as a camper, counselor in training, and assistant counselor behind him, he could finally become full time staff, teaching canoeing and taking care of a cabin of boys of his own. Blaine took the first couple summer of college off from camp, thinking it was important to stockpile internships for his future career, but when he settled on elementary education for his major, he figured it was time for him to go back to camp. During his AC year he found that he had a knack for handling the very young kids, especially when they were homesick or scared and he was looking forward to a group of eight year olds to look after on his own.
Fire Light was an all boys camp and for Blaine, that was one of the best parts about it. For two months during the summer Blaine didn't have to think about holding in gas, or leaving the toilet seat up, or just generally being a gentleman. And the lack of females meant that Blaine was spared the long winded discussions his friends often had, waxing poetic about a girl they were trying to woo. The simple fact was that Blaine was gay, but he didn't want it to have to define him. At camp, it could be a non-issue. He didn't exactly keep it a secret, but no one had asked and so no one knew. At camp he didn't have to be the gay kid. He was just a kid.
"Did you remember to pack the mosquito net?" Blaine's father asked from his place at the drivers seat. Though their relationship had its ups and downs over the years, Blaine found that camp was one of the few things that he and his father could connect about. "They're supposed to be really bad through the beginning of July."
"Yeah they're in the duffle with all of my shoes," Blaine said, fiddling with the radio as they transitioned from New Hampshire stations to Maine.
"Just about there," his Father said, grinning and nodding his head towards the sign for their exit. "we'll be there in about twenty minutes."
Blaine banged his hands on the dashboard in excitement and shouted out the window, "Ra for Camp Fire Light!" he screamed at the cars passing by. "Ahh! I just can't wait to see everyone again," Blaine exclaimed pulling his head back into the car and rubbing his palms together. "I know a bunch of the old timers are coming back. Are their any new staff?"
"There are a few new guys in senior camp, mostly on high ropes staff and a few trip leaders," his father responded. "Other than that it's just the replacement they brought in for Rusty."
"I can't believe he finally retired," Blaine said hanging his head almost reverently. Rusty had been the head of the waterfront for as long as anyone could remember, but he finally decided to retire and move to Florida with his family. Everyone had figured that the camp would pull a returning staff member up for the position, but in a surprise move they hired someone new. "I'm still not sure I understand why they got someone totally fresh faced. Jim or Henry could have done the job almost as well as Rusty. Hell, after a few years they might have done it as well."
"I think you hit the reason right there. They would have done everything exactly the same as Rusty did and while he was amazing and will be missed I think the administration is looking to shake things up, bring in new ideas," Blaine's dad explained. "The kid has killer credentials and he's only 21. With any luck, he'll stick around for the long hall."
"I'm not really understanding what you mean," Kurt said, making an extreme effort to keep his voice even. He knew it wasn't the swim staff's fault that the last person to be in charge of the waterfront was the least organized human being on the planet. "Are you telling me that you have absolutely no previous lesson plans to work from...no notes on what was taught in previous years or notes on returning campers?"
"Rusty liked to keep everything in a filing cabinet in his cabin and it left with him I think. We never got to see it. He would just hand us a lesson plan at the beginning of the day and have us carry it out," Henry, a tall ginger, who had been a camper all his life and a swim instructor under Rusty, tried to explain. "He did everything. He tested new campers and put them in levels, made sure we met Red Cross regulation, dealt with the American Camping Association standards, and wrote all of the lesson plans."
Kurt took a deep calming breath in and out. Kurt had never actually been to summer camp as a kid. In fact if someone had asked him about five years ago if he would ever step foot in a summer camp he might have laughed in his or her face, but here he was two weeks into pre camp clinics with seven newly trained lifeguard/water safety instructor staff. A high school devotion to cheerleading led to an unexpectedly successful career in college diving for Kurt. He even went through some of the qualifying rounds for the Olympics (though he was out early on). After his first year on the team he took the training to be a lifeguard and WSI instructor so he could make some spare money in college. A year after that, he did the certification to teach those clinics to others. His experience, coupled with his chosen career path as a high school English teacher made him an ideal candidate to work at a summer camp. He was nervous at first, to join the community at an all boys camp. All his life, Kurt had fit in much better with girls, but he figured it would be a new and good learning experience for him. He was never one to avoid going out of his comfort zone.
He was prepared to spend a summer hanging out with a staff full of Finns and was pleasantly surprised by the generally high brain capacity he'd seen from the staff so far, but he was not expecting to have to completely re-write the entire swim curriculum and re-do all of the safety and insurance paperwork from square one.
"Alright," Kurt said, taking one more calming breath, "It will be fine. We'll just have to put in some extra hours tonight. Why don't we break for dinner and then we can..." Kurt didn't get to finish his sentence, however, as the entirety of his staff bounded off the dock towards a new staff member that had obviously just arrived. Kurt could barely make out a head of unruly curls underneath the seven bear hugs that the newcomer was receiving. Kurt could understand. These guys had all known each other for years, but he couldn't help but feel a small pang of discomfort every time there was an epic reunion such as this one.
Kurt was startled out of his staring by a voice from behind. It seemed one person had stayed behind on the dock, "That's Blaine. He's been coming here since he was like four or something. He took a few years off. They're just excited to have him back. I know it's hard at first, but you'll get to know everyone with time. It might even start to feel like home," came the soft Scottish accent of Amy, the only female waterfront staff and one of only seven women on staff in general. "I felt like a fish out of water my first few years, but I think you'll feel more comfortable in no time. And hey, I totally don't mind helping to get all of this paper work done tonight. We could make popcorn and drink cheep red wine until we're all done."
Kurt chuckled at her seemingly endless enthusiasm, but he was grateful. "That sounds great, Amy. I really appreciate the help..." Kurt said shuffling some papers away before heading to dinner, "...and the advice. I'm sure you're right. It's just going to take some time."