How does a Wanderer end the school year and kick off the summer? She heads for Umbria to teach English at a Summer Camp for three weeks. Just me and five others against an army of 30 of Italy’s most darling little angels. In addition to losing my voice, teaching the importance of sportsmanship, and pulling out 8,000 splinters, I made several observations about the lifestyles and habits of Italian youth.
Things I learned at Summer Camp:
- Italian mothers are master packers – daily outfits, including morning and evening attire, are put in separate plastic bags and labeled with the day of the week.
- While Marco Polo was Italian, the swimming pool game named in his honor is not internationally recognized.
- Six kids will overcome two grown men 100% of the time in tug-o-war.
- All Italians fear death from the phenomenon known as “La Congestione” (no available English translation), caused by swimming too soon after eating. And most kids will tell you that they know someone who died from it.
- If the Azzurri (Italian soccer team) are playing, you better be prepared to reorganize the week’s schedule so the kids can watch the game.
- For every 30 kids, at least 1 will actually like the flavor of Marmite (same as Vegemite).
- In a Bake-the-Cake competition, the real battle is a debate over who’s nonna – grandma – has the best secret recipe
- Any means of retaliation (physical, verbal, or psychological) is fair game if someone has insulted your mamma.
- As a counselor, your best weapon to prevent attempted room-escape is a deck of cards or a magic trick.
- Any Italian can tell you that there are only 6 continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Antarctica, and America. North, South, and Central are all one.
- Mascaccia – means tomboy, and according to the kids, I am still one of them.
- Everybody loves dodgeball.