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Great Scot! Confusing Accent.

, , , | Working | April 15, 2022

I am a Scottish woman, and I’m spending a university summer working as a counsellor at a very ethnically diverse summer camp aimed at low-income, inner-city teenage girls.

Me: “Come on, girls, everyone queue up for lunch.”

I notice a few surprised looks but don’t think anything of it. I continue calling groups of campers “girls” for the next few days, until I am called into a meeting with my boss and other senior staff members.

Boss: “I don’t know how to say this, but you have to stop calling the kids ‘ghettos’.”

Me: “Sorry, what?”

Boss: “This is serious. I don’t know why you think it’s acceptable, but it has to stop.”

Me: “I don’t call them ghettos. I call them girls.”

Boss: “Wait, what?”

It turns out that the rolled Scottish R is very similar to the soft D sound a lot of Americans make instead of a double T. So, my very Scottish accented “gehr-lls” sounded to an American ear a lot like “ghettos”. It took some persuading to convince the senior staff that I wasn’t being offensive; I was just Scottish!

I explained what happened to the teenagers, who found the misunderstanding hilarious, but I only called them “kids” or “ladies” for the rest of the summer.

YMCA = You Must Countersue, Apparently

, , | Right | April 10, 2022

We had a lady FLIP OUT because we run a summer camp in conjunction with the local YMCA.

Lady: “That’s a Christian organization! You can’t put up these signs in schools because of the separation of church and state! I will be contacting my lawyer!”

We never heard from a lawyer.

Language Is Complicated

, , , , , , | Learning | April 7, 2022

I’m working at a summer camp.

Second-Grader: “My dad watches adult movies in the living room after I go to bed.”

Some of the fourth- and fifth-graders start laughing.

Me: “What do you mean?”

Second-Grader: “He watches movies that I’m not allowed to watch because they say bad words and there’s too much fighting and guns.”

Me: “Let’s call them ‘grown-up movies,’ instead. ‘Adult movies’ means something really bad.”

Which Is Cuter: The Gecko Or The Kiddo?

, , , , , , | Right | February 28, 2022

I work at a camp petting zoo every year. The kids are (for the most part) awesome, and the youngest ones are particularly prone to hilarious and/or adorable statements. The following gem made my summer.

I took out a leopard gecko.

Five-Year-Old: “I know what that one’s called! It’s a leprechaun!”

It’s Sure No Walk In The Park, Part 2

, , , , , | Learning | February 26, 2022

A recent story brought this memory back.

When I was in high school, I signed up to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh award. This is a youth programme with various charitable and social elements, but it also involves outdoor activities, which for us involved hiking sections of the West Highland Way — a popular hiking trail in Scotland.

On the hike, we were separated into groups and given a map and compass to find our way to the campsite. In hindsight, the school was maybe a bit too cavalier in their assumption that we knew how to use those tools, which brings us to my story.

Groups were staggered by twenty-minute intervals, and mine was the second to set off on day one. However, Group 1 consisted of some of the brainiest kids in our year — the really, really smart guys. My group took a quick vote and decided to double-time the start of our hike to catch up with Group 1 to make sure we didn’t get lost.

We really, really should have remembered that none of the kids in Group 1 took Geography, but that only occurred to us later. Another important point to note is that this story took place before mobile phones became common, so only a few of us had them and the coverage was spotty at best out there.

We caught up with Group 1 and continued the hike with them; there was nothing in the rules against this. It was pretty exhausting as the trail went from a fairly well-defined path to a dirt trail that took us higher and higher up a small mountain until it just stopped, deep in a forest. We were clearly not where we were supposed to be, so we consulted our maps and had an emergency meeting.

Me: “I know this sucks, guys, but I’m pretty sure we took the right path a few miles back when we were supposed to go left. I think the best thing we can do is just take the hit, retrace our steps, and go back the way we came.”

Classmate: “No, look! If we cut through the forest, it’s a straight line to camp. We should be able to make it in a couple of hours.”

Me: “Look at the map! It says that there are a lot of really steep hills and valleys that way; plus, we don’t know what the terrain is like. I really think we’d be safer taking the hit on time and going back to the fork in the path.”

Classmate: *Very smugly* “No, I’m sure it’s safe. You’re being too cautious.”

Me: “No, I’m not. We’re not doing this.”

We split into our groups again, and mine followed my lead back down the trail. As we approached the fork, we saw our teacher’s car, and as soon as he saw us, he got out and stormed over.

Teacher: “Where the h*** have you guys been?! We’ve been searching for you for the last two hours! Have you seen Group 1?!”

Me: “Yeah, we met up with them and climbed the wrong path! It ended in the middle of a path, in a forest partway up that mountain. When we realised, our group decided to retrace our steps, but Group 1 wouldn’t come with us. They said they could figure it out.”

Teachers: “You weren’t even supposed to be up a mountain. You were meant to take the flat trail! Idiots! Right, all of you get in the car. I’ll drive you to the campsite and see if they’ve made it.”

We got to the campsite and got set up as the remaining groups started to arrive, but after a few more hours, there was still no sign of Group 1. The teacher phoned the nearest police station and was on the verge of organising a mountain rescue team to start a search when two of the kids from Group 1 suddenly staggered into the camp, muddy and torn without their packs.

Teacher: “Where have you been? What happened to you?! Where is the rest of your group?!”

Classmate: “We got stuck on the wrong side of a gorge trying to take a shortcut! The rest of the group didn’t think they could make it, so we left them there with our stuff and made it the rest of the way by ourselves to get help.”

Teacher: “Why wouldn’t you just go back the way you came?! Bah, never mind. Get in the car and we’ll go find them. I’d better call the police back first; they were about to scramble a search team for you idiots.”

A couple of hours later (when it was pitch black), the teacher drove in with all of Group 1 in their car. Fortunately, they were very embarrassed but unhurt. We were lectured firmly about how reckless we had all been and told we would be given a refresher in map reading in the morning before the second day of hiking.

That time, we all checked the map anytime we came to a fork, just to be safe.

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It’s Sure No Walk In The Park