Merry Summer Christmas!

It might seem like an ordinary July Wednesday where you are. Not at Alpine. It’s Christmas here at camp. Summer Christmas that is. For the Hunters, our youngest boys in camp, this is a special few days. And really it’s fun for the whole camp. Yesterday afternoon Hunters took turns decorating Christmas cookies at our house, making paper chains for our Christmas tree, and other Christmas type games.

Last night they each hung a sock in the Lodge by the fireplace (nevermind if they were a bit dirty or smelly). Each cabin decorated a Chrimstmas banner. Carter read an Alpine adapted version of The Night Before Christmas. I then read the Christmas story from Luke 2.

This morning summer Santa brought some fun toys and candy for these boys. He arrived in style, his sleigh a 1978 VW Bug!

We all got in the Christmas spirit this morning at breakfast, singing along with Christmas carols playing over the speakers. And the crowd favorite, 12 days of Alpine Christmas, including such favorites as 7 Nutty Buddies and 2 fat dogs. Today’s lunch was Christmas tradition, of course. Turkey and dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, plus warm rolls. And just like Christmas I ate entirely too much. Thankfully we all enjoyed a full rest hour afterwards (myself included!).

Our Chiefs, the oldest boys, have been busy too. Our Chief 2’s, rising 10th graders, had an important task Sunday afternoon. They spent their time with guides from Higher Ground packing for a 4 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. They are carrying everything they need to live for these four days - cups, tents, sleeping bags, pots, summer sausage and cheese, stoves, water bottles, and more.

Monday morning they hiked their packs the first leg, from the cabins to the Dining hall, where a bus awaited them. After fueling up on scrambled eggs, hot grits, sausage, and buttery biscuits they set off on their adventure. The bus transported them to Winding Stair Gap in Standing Indian, NC where they would disembark and split off into their 4 hiking groups. Over these 4 days they’ll traverse around 30 miles. They’ll enjoy some beautiful views, eat surprisingly delicious meals, and make some memories that will last a lifetime. I was fortunate enough to make this trip as a camper and as a counselor. There are moments from both that I’ll never forget.

Tomorrow they’ll wind up at the Nantahala Outdoor Center where they’ll raft in duckies (single seat inflatable kayaks) down the clear and refreshing rapids of the Nantahala River. After 3 days hiking with no shower that river will feel so good!

Our Chief 1’s (rising 9th graders) have stayed a bit closer to home but managed to find some off camp adventures. Today they have hiked down to the base of Desoto Falls and enjoyed time swimming in the large pool that is created by the Falls. This is a must see for anyone adventuring in Mentone. It’s a 100 plus foot waterfall on the west fork of Little River (a good ways upriver from where we are located). The canyon and pool created by this magnificent waterfall is one of the best swimming holes in Alabama.

Tomorrow our Chief 1’s and Braves (rising 8th graders) will fly even farther afield to Ocoee, TN. There a day of whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River awaits them. This is a great adventure - the Ocoee features some of the best whitewater in the country. We’ll be adequately guided by the Nantahala Outdoor Center. They are one of the groups who have been rafting this area the longest - I highly recommend them if you ever want to bring your family on a fun adventure.

Our Warriors (rising 7th) have a fun day awaiting them on the Nantahala River. The Nantahala is a little calmer than the Ocoee and a great introduction to whitewater. As for our Scouts (rising 6th), they’ll float the waters of the Hiwassee River.

If you’ve been watching the forecast you know it’s been rainy some over the past few days. The good news is that the clouds have not held thunder and lightning. With mostly mild showers, activities have continued fairly normally. Yesterday for a block period, Roderick assigned the Trappers (rising 5th) a super fun activity. He called it dam building. There are several wet weather streams around camp that flow particularly well after a little rain. Boys and their counselors divided up into groups and played in the streams. Some even built boats to float in the streams. Many built dams and created little lakes and ponds. And yes, they got dirty! It was a blast. Thankfully, Roderick scheduled the block for right before shower period so all were clean before supper.

Speaking of supper, the rain quit just in time for us to enjoy our weekly Taco Tuesday picnic outside. We piled plates high with tortilla chips, ground beef, grated cheese, sliced tomatoes, rice, shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream. It was so pleasant and cool after the rain quit. Today has been cool and overcast all day with virtually no rain. We had a brief shower just before lunch and that’s been it. And the forecast is looking great for the weekend!

Thanks for reading and good night, Glenn