Jul 5, 2011

A further thought on the camp

Thinking again about the camp I recently helped with I was struck by a couple things.  First was that overall it went off very well.  The kids got there on time, the food was sufficient and cooked on time, the activities went off more or less how they were planned—and most of all, the kids had a great time.  I'd say it was one of the best organized and best executed events I have attended here in South Africa.

The second thing is that the stress of the event nearly gave the volunteer organizing it ulcers.  The key thing I noticed here is that the actual logistics weren't the stressful bits.  It was the thankless, selfish, and petulant attitude evinced by a large fraction of the people involved with the camp.  Beforehand, people who agreed to help or contribute often went back on their word or didn't keep their promises.  A local politician who had agreed to organize transport reacted to inquires about said organization with disbelieving fury—only later did it come out that she had actually done nothing.  During the camp, on one occasion, younger volunteers stayed up all night and then begged off their activities the next day, claiming sickness.  As the camp was ending, there was a frenzy of people trying to score free stuff from the extras—we're still trying to track down the soccer balls.

All those things were relatively small and easy to deal with, but the cumulative psychological energy required to deal with all the petty bullshit was nearly overwhelming.  The easily waked sense of grievance and entitlement that one encounters here is a major reason I'm excited to go home.

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