It's been over a month since I've posted on the blog, not because it fell into disuse, but because I had been working on its appearance and was waiting to report a trip that I went on, so I pray you, forgive me.
The thing started when I asked Zelda Fan on SuperCheats to stand in for me, but Rich didn't want that. However, since nothing serious happened while I was gone, that part of the story is moot. It really starts when I'm driven to the church with my clothes and maps in tow at 5:30 a.m. and the Advantage Tours bus arrives shortly thereafter. The pastor was out for a funeral and his daughter and close friend were at work and were not willing to go on any more trips and crunch their summer activities further, so we went instead with the assistant and a small faction from Atlantic City.
The trip, like the one before it, took six hours, and along the way I was envisaging what would happen at the summit. When I went the previous year, I came back a new person with my personality oiled and a faint love record: The group was accepting and some of the females had the delicate balance of beauty and brains. The entire clientele, however, was galvanised in a pledge to stay away from drugs and illicit sex. This was Youth to Youth, a group based in Columbus, Ohio that formed in 1982 and now attracts members from 16 different countries and territories. Last year the focus of my lessons were tobacco and how some companies — particularly Philip Morris — hoodwinked customers. At that point, however, I had met a female by the name of Ylenia that would indirectly disprove the theory that I was impervious to infatuation. If someone told me that I would be susceptible to that on the trip before I went, I would have thrown them from the room.
Although it disappointed me to see that she was not present this time around, I did see other faces from yesteryear, some of which were previously plebeians but had now graduated to the Youth Staff. I also took comfort in knowing that the summit worked the same way as the one before it — being sorted with the name tags in an activity. I also took comfort that the old social trends and 'energisers' were once more present: During mealtimes, someone would yell out 'Dexterity check!', causing the entire clientele to erupt into a jive whilst chanting 'We are drug-free, unh, unh, UNH!' (although, contrary to last year, no-one had posted prompts on the bulletin board, although some joker put a post to the New Jersey factions reading 'Li'l John Check!'); devout activists would engage random people in a 'shake your booty' dance; people would come close to grinding others in a ring in a game called 'Ride That Pony'; 'secret fuzzies' — 'fuzzies', or personal notes taped to four categorised boards in the atrium of the venue — were designated once more and had people wondering as usual. New trends also arose: Our family group had us circulate a spoon, and we created two games that would become instant hits, Mafia (a game in which others accuse two people with aces in their hands for causing a death in the group) and Indian Chief (in which a person has to determine who's leading off a series of jives in the group). Aside from this, the summit functioned as I had envisaged it. And again, like last time, I was in a haze of infatuation, but not one as severe. Time, however, would now be invested in a map of Ilfracombe (an area of Hoenn that I just made up).
On the first day, we were bunched together in a game that aimed to introduce us to other members via bingo boards marked with twenty-five possible attributes (I filled twenty) which other members would sign if they applied to them. Then we were bunched by prefernces of television programmes, sports, and cereals. Finally, we were sifted out into 'family groups', which were designed to afford members the best environment possible without placing two members from the same faction.
Throughout the course of the trip, I had to rely on my roommate (who luckily happened to be in my group) for the key, since I did not get one straight off and had to get it recut after the wrong mould was used. On top of that my first priority was to get some of my contact details changed; they had been botched in the previous edition of the participant directory due to the erratic paperwork. It also became my priority to seek out people I knew from the previous summit — but few appeared again, as I said before.
The second day played host to another two 'workshops': The ones I selected were a sign-language seminar as well as a seminar on alcohol advertisement followed by a member's graphic account of being drugged and raped. On the night of the second day, we were taken to the Bryant Athletic Centre, where we engaged in several sports activities. The pool had been the magic ticket the year before if I were to gather friends, but only the collegiates and some underclassmen were present and the pool water was next to frigid. I ended up pacing the entire time and concentrating on Ilfracombe.
The third day meant an 'extreme skills session': For me it would be 'How to Prevent Truth-Decay, which transpired to be yet another seminar on alcohol. The host, Ray Lozano, an anti-alcohol activist that had spoken on the first day — and caused my ability to lick my elbow to rocket to fame in the amphitheatre — told the students about the 'three P's of alcohol': 'pee, puke, pass out', all in succession by the area of the brain affected in each stage. The night was host to the traditional farewell party, which took place in the Governor Notte Park north of Providence; while most of the clientele would dance on the beach — and a few were removed for provocative dancing — I worked on the map as some of the staff garnered spectators for it. It was the first time my maps had gained large-scale attention, and a snapshot of the sketch appeared in the closing movie as testament. However, not all was smooth from the third day: Rumours had arisen that a member of my faction had smuggled marijuana aboard the bus and into the college, and they were confirmed when he was taken home by his father when a high-up overheard him bragging about having smuggled it in. On the fourth day we learned that some people from the interior of Brigantine had sold it to him, taking advantage of his craving for social normalcy. I will not name involved names now.
If you're wondering what happened to the map, it eventually went to Sarah, a participant from central Tennessee. It was the first time I had given away a map to someone outside the family sphere (that is, where my family lived and the environs). I also ended up getting my key on the night of the third day.