We’ve had four consecutive days of sunny skies and a bit cooler temperatures. And four days of getting settled into our regular rotation of activities. Boys have rekindled old friendships and made new ones. It feels like we’ve been here much longer than a week, tomorrow. One thing I love about boys - if you give them activity, they make friends fast. They don’t need a lot of context or history, just some games to play together. Having really fun college guys to lead those activities doesn’t hurt either.
I thought it would be nice to walk you through a typical morning at Alpine, up to lunch. Another post I’ll write about an afternoon. Of course, no day is exactly the same. There are always little tweaks and twists that make each day special. Like at lunch today. In honor of Bastille Day, Roderick, our program director, read all the announcements once in English. Then his trusty translator at his side (a camper who’s in a French immersion charter school in New Orleans) repeated everything in French. The whole dining hall was cheering for Joseph and enjoying the fun.
We wake up at 7AM every morning except Sunday. The first morning of the term many boys wake up at first light. But after one full day of playing, everyone tends to sleep right up to 7. 15 minutes are allotted for bathroom chores and getting dressed. Then cabins make their way to Morning Watch. Each age group has a morning watch area. They are scenic areas set along the river or among the giant boulders in the woods. Many times the early rays of sunlight are streaming down through the leaves as boys sleepily make their way to worn wooden benches. Crazy creeks and Bibles in hand, they sit as cabins with their counselors. They won’t sit for long, as the head counselors begin Morning Watch with a “wake up” song. One favorite is called the Fruit of the Spirit. The head counselor sings, the fruit of the spirit’s not a banana. And everyone jumps with arms extended upward in a curved manner to mimic a banana. Or a grape and everyone bunches together like grapes on a vine. Or a dragonfruit. That one is fun, as I’m sure you can imagine. Then they all sing in unison, but the fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. And it starts over with a new fruit. Then a few more songs or hymns. And then the head counselor brings a short devotional from God’s Word with some application to the boys’ lives. The whole thing is a great way to start the day.
Breakfast at 8 in the dining hall is the first time we’re all together as a camp for the day. This morning we were treated to pancakes and sausage, a rarity during the week. Mrs. Gail’s pancakes are legendary and usually reserved for Sunday mornings. We also have popular cereals at every breakfast, along with milk, orange juice, and water.
After fueling up for the day, it’s time to straighten our cabins. That’s right, the boys actually clean their cabins every day. Campers take turns sweeping. Everyone makes his bed. Shelves are neatened and dirty clothes picked up off the floor. As with many things at camp, the secret sauce is a little competition. The head counselor inspects each cabin. And at lunch announces the winning cabin for the age group. Winners get to be first in line at the Store later in the afternoon. A big deal, especially for the younger campers.
At 9:20 a bell rings beckoning us to our first activity. Bells ring all day long signaling us to the end of one thing or the beginning of another.
9:30 is period 1. Each class period runs 50 minutes with a 15 minute changeover in between. We manage to fit in 3 activities before lunch. In between period 1 and 2 Roderick serves a healthy snack on the dining hall porch. Peanut butter crackers (and alternatives for our peanut allergies), apples, and bananas provide a nice pick me up to bridge the gap until lunch.
Lunch should really be called “dinner” like it was in the old days in the South. Mrs. Gail and her crew serve a hot meal, really our biggest meal of the day, at lunch. Today we feasted on meat loaf, fried okra, pinto beans, corn bread, and sliced tomatoes. Boys can also choose to ask for an Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At lunch I announce any birthdays for the day and the whole dining hall sings loudly to our birthday boys. When else do you get to have 400 people singing Happy Birthday to you! And Mrs. Gail makes our birthday celebrants a chocolate cake, in the shape of an Alpine tree, to be shared with the table.
I should also mention we have assigned tables. 8 to 10 boys and 2 or 3 counselors sit at the same table each day. We eat family style, waited on by our high school work crew (mostly former campers who now get to see what it’s like to serve). Food is shared and passed and conversation is enjoyed about the morning’s activities.
Thanks for reading and good night, Glenn