Refer to the list in the article for descriptions of the above pictures.
Yes, folks, I went to the summit. And I have pictures, which I'll show you once the boring verbal synopsis is out of the way.
The day began with me climbing into the vans — yes, John the reverend was coming with us again! — and volunteering to navigate again. This time, however, the same junior high students that went with me to the camps at Donegal two years ago, the ones that held a mortal grudge against my friend Tom, were coming as well, and they were in the same van as me. When everyone was settled in, we decided that it was time to bypass New York completely and reach the end of the Garden State Parkway before heading east again.
The last time (click the link to see how Youth-to-Youth works; I'm not going through it again) I went up, we took a bus and there was not much leeway for the group due to another faction coming with us and there being no access to the radio. This time, though, it was time for an iPod war. John had his turquoise iPod with oldies in tow as a threat to the company that sat with us all the way up, whilst this company had John's daughter's iPod on them and managed to cram it into the receptor before John went in and as a result got their chance to annoy us with comedian skits, Chamillionaire's 'Ridin'', and a slam song named 'Date Rape'. The war only ceased at the two stops we made along the way, the first at the Asbury Park services to wait up for Elliott and the second on Route 3 in Rhode Island. Of course, waiting for Elliott denied us the opening ceremonies and half of the introductory games and also complicated workshop and dorm registry.
I turned out to be in Group 9, the same number I was tied to when I went up in 2004. In it was a violence counselor, a college student bound for California, and a girl that had wrangled through a divorce and crack habits of her mother, among other people. This group, however, was somewhat more vague to me as they tended to keep in small groups themselves, yet we still were capable of laughter, especially when we attempted to create a string of 'ha' and 'yo' sequences but eventually succumbed to natural laughter.
This year was very different than the one before overall. Firstly, there were only two workshops, one led by a youth staff member and one led by a presenter, both held on day three. The ones I selected were 'Connect Fore', a seminar on initating and maintaining a conversation, and 'Root Causes of Sexual Violence', an investigatory seminar on sex crimes and how magazine articles and ads (one FHM article distorted feminists completely) fostered such situations (I was one of only two boys that entered the second seminar, and the other slept it out). Secondly, the dance on night three was commuted to the campus as the park had been closed due to a thunderstorm. And the Warm Fuzzy Board remained (one notice asked whether you 'chuck or husk' corn, and during the conference I received eight fuzzies, five of which were found on day three), yet in my group 'secret fuzzies' were never assigned, although a few girls opted to create circular notes for the rest of the members. We did, however, have a few things remaining intact. Firstly, we had our four presenters:
- Covin Perkins told us stories of a childhood in which his imagination, even when restricted by his mother, was unruly. He was active in the Youth-to-Youth programmes for some time and even led an improvisation workshop.
- Tei Street was evidently proud of her figure of a short and 'voluptuous' woman, as she said her husband liked his women back in her day. She went on to explain her obsession with stunts such as those of Harry Houdini — toss into a pool with arms bound by rope, anyone? — and had it culminate in a story of taking skydiving lessons. She was able to turn this story into a motivational piece of material. As James would say, 'ten out of fantastic'.
- Robert Petrocelli is someone you can really call a survivor of tragedy. As explained in one of his books, he was sleeping with his wife Ava when he was thrown out by a drunk driver that had crossed a motorway median and careened into the house, smothering Ava. This, coupled with the emotion he put into his stories of coaching sports teams in Texas and Brooklyn, nearly drove me to tears — again, if someone had told me that this would happen prior to the conference, I would have thrown them from the room as well.
- Javier Sanchez was the liveliest of all. First he started by leading the congregation in a rap assisted by his friend, and then he introduced us to his two children in the forms of pictures, cellphone recordings, and the tale of his son Mateo charing out of the bathroom after a long sojourn to scream 'Introducing, Naked Boy!'.
The sports session was also in place on day two, although this took place during the afternoon. I managed to get a bit of swimming in that time, as the water was not as cold as it was the previous year. Still in place, also, were the jives and group games such as 'Ride that Pony' and 'Shake Your Booty'; I have pictures of the games in action below as well as explanations. And yes, the energiser rounds and the world-famous Dexterity Checks were back, in the same fashion (five claps, five more, three more, three more, then arm cross ('We'), arm extension ('are'), clap ('drug'), fists back ('free'), and three fist thrusts ('unh, unh, UNH!')). And as before, time would be invested in a map that I drew of a town. This time it was called Margaret, situated east of the map of Ilfracombe that I drew the year before. I 'officially' completed it at the end of the dance on night three, had one of the adult staff photograph it for the CD and inal presentation, and, once the closing ceremonies were through, handed it and an old colour relief I had drawn over to a youth staff member named Hayley, one I'd known ever since the 2004 conference.
The trip back was along the same route, and for good reason, too: I learned today that Interstate 95 had been cut off by the collapse of a dummy missile. Still, it took so long that it wasn't until midnight that I finally returned home last night and slept once the rap music and the PC updates were cleared up.
So now that that's out of the way, it's time to show you the photos, as I promised before.
- This one is of me, taken by John's daughter.
- This was of Sara and Tara horseplaying, a result of the usual fights that went on whenever the iPod war was at ceasefire.
- The audience looks on in the Janikies Auditorium during the staff introduction.
- Team Rocket make a fool of themselves yet again on a cafeteria television screen.
- With Hayley. We had met two years before and only spoken once from that point to this conference.
- Family Group 9. Top row: Amanda, Britney, Katie, Lindsey, Ginny, me. Bottom row: Stephanie, Samantha, Trevor, Alex, Estrella.
- Talent show, or, simply put, 'The Show'. Mariah Carey has always been a popular pick, mind....
- 'Ride that Pony'. In this game, you arrange in a circle and send an amount of students into the circle to have them prance around whilst the outer ring claps and chants 'Here we go, ride that pony, ride upon that big fat pony, here we go, ride that pony, this is how we do it'. Once that finishes, the participants in the circle approach members of the outer ring and each pair begins thrusting forward ('front to front to front, my baby'), turning back to each other ('back to back to back, my baby'), then turning side to each other ('side to side to side, my baby') and then taking the partner's place in the circle and sending the latter out to prance within ('this is how you do it').
- 'Shake Your Booty'. A member calls to another random member, 'Hey [name]!' The target responds, 'What?'. The sender repeats once, the target repeats once, and then the sender yells 'Show us how to get down!', to which the target says 'No way!' and the sender yells the request again but this time around the target yells 'Okay!' and begins rotating and shake-dancing as the congregation yells 'Jump, jump, shake your booty' four times before they either end or call on another member. In the lunch periods it usually ends up with the whole mass shake-dancing.
- Following the scavenger hunt on day two. Everyone gathers around the clue list and what I have of the map at that point.
- Mick's 45-second Dance Break, a spoof session that occurs every morning. This time, instead of leading the congregation in dance, he faces off against an aspiring breakdancer.
- Jigaloo, which I never understood.
- Another game I neither understood nor knew the very name of.
- Youth Staff skits. I forget what this particular one was from, but the skits included a man skipping out in an inflatible ring and trunks speaking in an Irish accent and clarifying a cannabis hustler's objectives in one skit and an interracial relationship conflict in another.
- A view of the dance during Casper's Cha-Cha Slide.
- Youth moderators in assembly of honour at the closing ceremonies.
- Admins in assembly.
- Completed map of Margaret with my certification. Seventeen hours after this photo was taken, I handed it and the colour relief to Hayley for personal records.
- Another view that didn't include the aforementioned song, thank God!
- Adult moderators in assembly.
- Final presentation. I hated how the snapshot of my maps turned out....
- Construction of Interstate 95 in New Haven, which has persisted ever since 2004. It's evidently interchange works for Interstate 91.
- The same.