The first week of the summer camp for ILPHO2008 finished today. As usual, the week has generated many new anecdotes, and made us recall some of the the earlier ones.
In 2001, YM1995 was guiding ILPHO for the first time. To those who might not know, I will explain that not only 90% of the academic work is handled by ex-participants and other volunteers, we are also used to handle logistics ourselves. Due to an allegedly ingenious idea of how to deliver bed linens to the kids on the first day (the idea involved having no tracking) we managed to loose 2/3 of what we were provided. How did this happen, I don't know. YL2007 later said "there're millions of ways the linens could have disappeared, you are too old to understand that".
Great. After the respective fines were paid, next year YM carried out precise recording of who took what. Not before trying to convince everybody that we should not deal with that at all and the students should bring these from home. ER: "I cannot do it this way". While patiently assigning blankets, a student codenamed AL2003 (living in nearby haifa) approached me with a question - "why didn't you tell people to bring these from home?". So I sent him immediately to YM to ask exactly the same question again.
The next scene was YM jumping and screaming happily, exclaiming "genius!! einstein!!", causing a certain confusion and amusement, especially to the kid who didn't know what did he do.
It was even joked that Israel should never agree to host an IPhO. "We are incapable of handling logistics. It will be disaster, we'll be expelled from the Olympiad if we try", said YM.
And then there was evening and there was morning and a few more of these, maybe like 15K times more, people grew up, brought I/APHO prizes, got drafted to IDF, released, and AL2003 finds himself responsible for a few days of logistics as an officer in the camp for team 2008.
The problem from the subject line is from the class of "estimate based on the common knowledge and physical reasoning problems". I think it's something classical, perhaps invented by Fermi? [plz correct or add ref in comments]. We've played with a lot of those during these camps.
So Amir approaches to me and says, "you won't believe they refuse to provide us toilet paper this time. I need to go buy some". "How to estimate how much toilet paper I need for the 32 kids for two weeks??"
P.S. Igor suggested that we print stage B solutions for the kids after the first day. "No need, said Amir, it's a waste. But on the other hand, you won't need to buy any toilet paper today if we do".