Summer has officially begun high atop Lookout Mountain. This morning under blue skies and 70 degree temperatures, Alpine opened its 64th summer of camping. 273 campers arrived by car, van, and SUV.
In 1987 my parents put me on a plane to Birmingham from Jackson, MS (can you imagine there used to be a direct flight between the two). Then in Birmingham I loaded a chartered bus with boys from other towns and cities across the Southeast, and a few counselor chaperones. A few hours later, after a brief stop for a Big Mac, we slowly ascended Lookout Mountain, a leafy green canopy almost forming a tunnel over the road at times. I still remember thinking the bus wouldn’t make the hairpin turn at Tutwiler Gap. We did, and before long we pulled through the stone pillar gates of Alpine into a boy’s paradise.
Approximately 25 years prior, my father embarked on a similar trip to be a camper at Alpine. Only his parents put him on an Amtrak passenger train in Mississippi. Based on the tails he used to tell I’m not sure they even had a chaperone from camp. Can you imagine a train car full of excited boys heading to summer camp!? After most of the day and quite a few stops the train chugged into Valley Head, Alabama. In Valley Head, all the boys and their trunks were loaded into the backs of large flatbed trucks with canvas siding (again can you imagine that today!) to being their ascent of Lookout.
Today my 8 year old nephew arrived with my sister in law from Mississippi for his second year as a camper. The third generation of Breazeale men to camp at Alpine. So many of you today brought campers who are 2nd or 3rd generation Alpiners. More than a few dads remarked about the familiar smells and sights of Lookout Mountain. For just as many, if not more, today was your first time dropping your son off at Alpine.
As I told the entire camp today in our Opening Day meeting, we’re all part of the Alpine family now, no matter how long we’ve been here. I also emphasized that Alpine is a place where each boy can be himself. That as a Christian camp we love and support and help each other out in the cabin. We talked about some tips to stay healthy at camp. We introduced them to the camp leadership who can help them with any problems they might have. I underscored the importance of speaking up if they have a problem in camp so that we could help them.
After unpacking and tours of camp the bell beckoned us to our first lunch together. Sitting at assigned tables with other campers their age and 2 or 3 counselors, we enjoyed the traditional Opening Day lunch. Homemade chicken pot pie accompanied by green peas, steamed corn off the cob, mixed green salad with sliced tomatoes, and made from scratch silver dollar biscuits. We eat family style from large bowls and platters, passed around the table to the right until everyone has been served. Our high school Work Crew, made of mostly of former campers, wait the tables and supply refills.
This afternoon we played some and also took care of some necessary requirements like a health check (I’m happy to report we are lice free!). It’s so good to hear the screams and cheers of boys playing games throughout camp. Tonight we participated in an age old camp tradition we call Glee Club. Over the years, classic rock songs have been repurposed with camp lyrics. Tonight we sang a camp favorite, “Say It’s French Toast” to the tune of Weezer’s hit, “Say It Ain’t So”. We also mix in some classic Appalachian tunes like tonight’s Rocky Top.
After singing, each age group ended the day with a fun game like Capture the Flag or Gladiator Ball.
You should have received an email today with instructions on how to view the camp photos. All photos from today will be posted tomorrow morning after breakfast. If you have questions feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office during work hours, 256-634-4404.
Carter and I want to sincerely thank you for entrusting your boys to our care for the next 8 days. They are going to have so much fun! And it is our hope that they will also “grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”.
Thanks for reading, Glenn Breazeale Director