This outdoor adventure centre had a long reputation for wild parties and funny wet rituals as part of their social programme.
The pool parties were in the evenings and we were expected to provide safety cover, but also be part of the entertainment. The occasional dunking by the guests should be expected. If they wanted us in the pool, we were to be game for a laugh and go into the water in whatever clothes we had on.
Tonight was to be the welcome party for the new guests who may not have been to a pool party before. Often they just stand around the poolside, not sure what to do.
If that happens we team leaders should playfully get our clothes wet or go into the pool,
making it clear to the guests that it was fine to jump in dressed as they are.
For any pool games we should also act as ice breaker, being the first to play if necessary.
Saturday is changeover day. Last week's guests left early in the morning and new guests arrived in the afternoon.
All new guests were told that a welcome party with dinner buffet was planned in the pool hall. They had no idea what was coming when they were told to shower before they dress in smart casual clothes, and leave phones and wallets in their rooms.
We didn't know quite what to expect either. This could be a dry event, but there was a good chance someone might get splashed. I dressed in a long sleeve sports shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes with fresh socks. Giovanni said I should take my long hiking cape to keep warm if neccessary. It reaches almost to my feet and thus looks like very elegant evening wear.
Andy and James chose to wear jeans, tee-shirts and hoodies.
They love their hoodies.
Giovanni looked great in white jeans with a pink polo-shirt and white hooded jacket made of thin nylon.
He obviously expected to get splashed.
Let the Party Begin
As we entered the pool hall the music was playing and empty inflatable boats were drifting around the pool. Some staff members wore cheap rain gear as fancy dress. Nobody was in the pool and most of the college students were standing around the shallow end of the pool.
The Thai students appeared in smart sports suits, looking elegant on pool side. The other teams were nicely dressed in their college polo shirts or hoodies, with jeans or long trousers. None were aware of the mayhem that was planned for them.
We noticed a buffet with food and drinks on the far side of the pool. The only way to reach it was via a rope bridge across the pool. Nice idea.
James and Andy crossed the bridge, cheered along by the students. "Fall in! Fall in!" they chanted. After they made it across all dry, I gave it a go. It was very wobbly, I almost lost my balance but came to a halt just above the water.
Next some students struggled across. Suddenly a splash and a big cheer as the first one fell in. He looked great as he came out of the pool in his college hoodie and jogging pants, water draining off as he walked to the buffet with a big smile.
While we enjoyed the buffet I asked him what it is like to swim in that heavy jogging suit.
"Oh, way cool. I didn't expect to get wet tonight, but it's all good fun," he replied as he slowly ate his food.
"Yes, this hooded jogging suit looks all new and elegant," I mused looking at him dripping all over. "Did you buy it new for this summer camp?"
"Yes, mainly for the parties, not the outdoor action. I really like to relax and bathe in this kind of hooded suit. You should try it some time."
"I'm sure that will happen tomorrow as part of my team leader job; my staff uniform is a jogging suit."
"Wow, really? Way cool, I want to see that get wet," he said as he put up his hood and slowly went back into the pool with a big smile.
Rope Bridge Meeting
Another dry student in baggy jeans, polo shirt and red hoodie crossed the bridge while Giovanni came towards him from the other side. We all looked on to see how they would handle that without getting wet.
They met in the middle and tried to squeeze past each other, which didn't quite work out. Giovanni lost his grip, but somehow managed to get hold of the student.
For a moment they were both suspended very close above the water with Giovanni's white nylon jacket touching the surface. They tried to get up again but in the end the student let go and they both fell into the water. Big cheer from the crowd.
Giovanni looked stunning as he climbed out of the water. His clothes were almost transparent. His nylon jacket was open and he had the hood up over this black hair.
Soon the party was in full swing, literally.
People were dangling on the ropes making their way to the buffet.
Some succeeded, most fell into the pool.
Others didn't bother with the rope bridge at all.
They simply went into the pool in their dry clothes and swam across.
Chilling out on Poolside
I enjoyed my pineapple juice sitting next to the buffet, still in dry clothes. It was great fun watching all these people get wet. Some tried to stay dry, but that was not an option. So far I managed to stay dry for quite some time, but that was about to change.
Three soaking wet guys noticed that I was not in wet clothes. They came over and one said with a big smile: "You're way too dry for this party." I agreed and he squeezed some water out of his hoodie all over my jeans. They introduced themselves as Tony, Benny and Karim. "Come join us in the pool!" they said.
Before I could respond they picked me up by my arms and legs and carefully dunked me into the pool.
My clothes felt really good in the water.
Then they jumped in and gave me a playful hug.
What a pleasant and refreshing surprise.
"How do you like the pool party?" I asked.
Karim replied: "It's totally rad. They set the buffet up in a way that we have to get across the pool while keeping our clothes dry. Way cool."
"Do you like swimming in your clothes, then?" I asked. They all grinned and said: "Yes, sure."
"Is it your first time?"
"Yes, it is," answered Karim, "We've never tried this before. But here at this outdoor centre everybody does it."
"It is part of the training for the outdoor adventures later." I explaned.
"Looks like it." said Tony. "We didn't expect the training to start at the first dinner, but we thought something was on when they told us to take a shower before dinner and leave phones and wallets behind."
Benny smiled and said: "It felt kinda weird when we had to go into the pool with all our clothes to get to the buffet, but we didn't want to look like geeks in shorts when everyone else was nicely dressed."
"And how does it feel now?" I asked.
"Oh great!" said Benny. "I'm surprised how good my clothes feel in the water. It's a great new experience.
I really enjoy it, especially the hoodie. Did you bring your hoodie?"
"It's a hooded cape actually, over there by the buffet." I replied. "Do you want me to put it on?"
"Yes, of course!" Karim shouted. "Look cool like the others. Go and get your it now."
Obediently I climbed out of the pool, put on my long cape with the hood up, and pushed my arms out into the long sleves. I went to the ladder and slowly lowered myself back into the pool again. Now that felt much nicer.
"Wow, you look awesome in that," said Benny. "I want to wear a rain cape like that in the water."
"Go into the drying room and pick one your size," I suggested. He went off and came back in an oversized rain cape that almost touched the floor. We watched as he waded into the pool from the shallow end, smiling ear to ear. Then he put the hood up, ducked under and sat on the poolside next to us.
"This thing feels amazing," he said as he pulled his arms inside. "Will they teach us how to swim in clothes and all that?"
"Yes, that's one of the basics you'll learn tomorrow morning.
You've got some serious fun heading your way with two or three soakings a day.
My name is Felix, one of the team leaders."
Boat in the Pool
Whilst talking in the pool I noticed that Andy and James were still dry, enjoying their drinks. I swam over to them, climbed out and gave them a big wet hug. Then I asked if they had any plans to get into the pool, suggesting a boat ride. They liked the idea.
They put on their hoodies while I jumped into the pool to fetch a boat. After I tipped the water out and pushed it to the edge, we all got in and paddled into the middle of the pool.
I teased Andy and James by splashing water onto their dry clothes. They splashed back and we enjoyed a great water fight. After that they were fairly soaked and we tipped the boat over.
We swam around the pool and talked to many of the new guests to find out what their expectations were for this week. Many just wanted a lot of wet and wild fun.
Anoraks, Cagoules, and Capes
Two of the Thai students, Lee and Nueng, drifted by and took a close look at my floating cape. They lifted it up, pulled it down, and felt the fabric.
"Is that easy to swim in?" Nueng asked.
"Yes, easier than a hoodie." I said. "It soaks up much less water, but a fair amount of water can collect in the hood. Go over to the drying room and find some to swim in."
They left their hoodies on a chair and soon came back dressed in long adventure capes with the hoods up. They picked capes without front pocket and open sleeves which collect no water. As they swam back to me, I asked them what they thought.
"You're right. They're quite easy to swim in and feel great. Can we use them for pool training?"
"Yes, of course, I do it all the time. You'll also wear capes and cagoules for most outdoor activities to keep warm."
They just smiled and splashed each other. Then they gave me a big hug and said: "Thank you for showing us this."
Near the end of the party Giovanni swam over to me and pulled on my sleeve. "We should go to bed now. Tomorrow is a long day and it starts early." He had a point there, so I waved good-night to our new friends in the pool and followed him to our room.
We were both dripping wet so we headed straight for a long hot shower in our clothes to rinse them.
We slowly undressed and put all the clothes up over the bath to dry.
Then we cuddled up in bed.
I soon found out why Giovanni likes to go to bed early.
We had so much fun this evening,
I can't possibly tell you here.