Sunny skies have abounded these last couple days. The heat has climbed back a bit but humidity has remained low. All in all, great camp days for early July.
Last night all of our Hunter campers (finished 2nd and 3rd) hiked into the woods, sleeping bag and water bottle in hand, for an overnight campout. The boys gathered fire wood and the counselors built an adequate fire for roasting hot dogs and S’mores. As the sun ducked behind the trees on the west side of Little River, guys gathered in small groups to eat their open fire cooked creations, talk, and tell stories. This time of summer the cicadas sing at night in a loud symphony that is far better than any artificial sleep machine. Proud and smelling like smoke, the Hunters traipsed back into camp this morning and hit the showers before breakfast.
Later this morning I had a chance to ride up the hill and peek at a few horseback classes. Some older boys trotted in the ring. A group of younger campers walked away from the barn, having just turned in their horses after a class. One camper eagerly walked up to me and said, “that was the first time I’ve ever been on a horse! And I loved it!!”. As Winston Churchill allegedly said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”
Tonight the Scouts (finishing 5th grade) have trekked beyond the regular camp boundaries for campout experiences. We have 4 or 5 open patches of grass carved into the woods on our property that serve as overnight spots. The Scouts, being our largest age group, will split into smaller groups and occupy most all of them.
It’s been a banner day for food at Alpine. Though most are. This morning the smell of bacon wafted almost to my house on my walk to work (a full quarter mile from the dining hall). Paired with French toast, syrup, and fruit, this meal is a fan favorite. Every breakfast also offers a cereal bar. Most mornings the bar holds Greek and plain yogurt, granola, blueberries, bananas, and grapes.
For lunch breaded chicken served as the main entree. Creamed corn, fried okra, and yeast rolls complemented the chicken. Also accompanying our lunches is a salad bar. She usually carries mixed lettuces, spinach, broccoli, sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, chopped peppers, croutons, grated cheese, craisins, sunflower seeds and an assortment of dressings. I’m consistently impressed with how many boys are eating salads!
Tonight the high school age Work Crew has the night off, with their counselors. So we’ll enjoy a taco buffet line and eat outside, picnic style.
Food at Alpine is a big deal. When my father in law, Dick O’Ferrall started camp his father gave him one piece of advice. He said no matter what else you do don’t skimp on the food. Serve quality food that boys will eat. And so that is our goal every summer.
There are 3 blessings, one for each meal, that we have been singing for as long as I’ve been at camp. The last note of “Amen” is usually mixed with the beginning sound of 300 plus chairs pulling back as we take our seats, eager to pass what’s in front of us and catch the next bowl headed our way.
We eat family style. There’s an emphasis on manners and service at the table. Not a white table cloth, cotillion type manners. More like: this is a community and we have to think about others type table manners. When we’re hungry, food can bring out the most selfish sides in all of us, and I include myself and all the other staff in that category. We actually spend a lot of time in Staff Training talking about it. We are very intentional in how we treat the table experience. It’s an intimate experience and boys take away a lot from their time in the Dining Hall.
We pass all the food around in one direction. We each take a reasonable portion to make sure everyone at the table gets a little bit (this does not come so naturally when you’re hungry! After everyone has been served the table all eats. This all takes a lot of practice and self discipline for a table full of 12 hungry guys.
And of course there’s plenty of food and the high school boys on Work Crew are happy to come and refill our serving bowls and platters. They work extremely hard. Most of them grew up here as campers so this is quite a shift from one year to the next. We are grateful for their service.
Thanks for reading and good evening for now, Glenn