Justin Li


CTY

2009-08-13

I’ve been tracking the presence of CTY online throughout the two sessions, especially through Twitter, but also through blogs. Last year I found several blogs which expressed their amazement at what CTY does for them and for children. I did the same this year, and found this:

CTY’s a place where the top end of the ability curve can find a community. Unlike just about anywhere else, there’re lots of other people like you there. Any strange, obscure reference you make, probably at least 3 people in earshot will get. Any weird thought you have won’t seem all that weird to more than a few people present.

And the same goes for how you act. A lot of gifted kids are, let’s face it, pretty crazy sometimes. But that’s perfectly normal there. In fact, it becomes self reinforcing so that almost everyone acts even weirder than normal. And, because we’re all like that, it’s Ok! You get cheered on, not made fun of.

And by that same principal, because there’s a lot of the shared experience of being pretty lonely at home sometimes, people are very quick to form friendships, and just generally very accepting of and nice to each other. People understand, and so they accept. Most of us have a few friends who will do that so that we can be ourselves with them at home, but here for three weeks it’s like that with most people!

I’ve never done the real CTY (both summers I’ve worked with young students), but I totally agree with what the author said. And I don’t mean it just for the kids - I mean it for the staff as well.

On the other hand, because I’ve never done real CTY, I don’t shout "Die! Die! Die! Die! Live! Live! Live! Live! Sex! Sex! Sex! Sex! More! More! More! More!" during the American Pie chorus. So I was surprised to find a blog post by someone who claims to have started the "Sex!" chant:

...Because I’m the one who started "Sex! Sex! Sex!"

It was Slut Day. That wasn’t a camp tradition, it was something I started on a whim, this being a period of my life in which I valued attention above dignity. To be clear, our definition of sluttishness was pretty mild; no one scored below a 70 on the Purity Test and most of us were lying. Anyway, shouting "Die Die Die" at the chorus of "American Pie" was already a long-standing tradition when I arrived at CTY, but the summer of 1994 something had happened--possibly a suicide?--that convinced people to tack on "Live! Live! Live!" afterwards in a flurry of PC-ism. Then as now I found the revision pretty lame, so on that particular day, Slut Day, since we had been talking about nothing but sex since breakfast, I threw in "Sex! Sex! Sex!" as a kind of musical one-liner. Well, it caught on like hula hoops. The next thing I knew it was part of the canon. The addition of "More! More! More!" followed hard upon, but I’m not sure who was responsible

Whether you believe her or not is up to you. Do visit the post though, and read through the comments - it’s more evidence of how CTY bonds people.

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