Richard Cox had his work cut out for him yesterday. Richard is our First Term Program Director. He lives in Birmingham for the rest of the year, teaching history in the upper school at the Westminster School. He is a longtime Alpine man, having worked as a counselor in college, and subsequently serving as a Head Counselor, Activity Head, and Kitchen Chief over various summers. His job as Program Director is to plan and oversee all of the daily and nightly activities at camp.
Our morning began routinely with scrambled eggs, hot grits, and sausage and biscuits. Well, I guess I shouldn’t call that routine - don’t konw about you but Carter and I are not serving that every morning for breakfast at our house! But after breakfast we held our normal rotation of 3 activities, delivering us to the dining hall for lunch to refuel.
Lunch is when things went off script. Alpine is big on traditions and routine, a wonderful thing for boys. So when things change, everyone notices. Thankfully, this was a good change. Gail served us a new lunch, Mexican themed. Black beans, rice, and salsa, accompanied what seemed to be a fairly well known entree among many boys, Crispitos! It’s a flour tortilla, filled with cheese and chicken and just the right amount of spice. General consensus from my informal polling (literally walking around the dining hall and asking various tables) was that the new lunch was a hit.
Then after lunch Richard announced that “this afternoon is Block Period”! On a block afternoon we pause from our regularly scheduled activites for some age group games, assigned by Richard, and executed by the head counselors. By the way, head counselors are veteran staff members that we ask back and promote to be in charge of each age group. There are six this summer. Russ Upton is leading our Hunter age group (finishing 2nd and 3rd grades). Russ will be a senior at Ole Miss, a Jackson, MS native, and the 3rd of 4 boys himself. Russ’s father was on staff when I was a camper and has also served in the past as one of our camp doctors. Russ is applying for medical school while he’s here this summer if that tells you about his work ethic. Though he had his work cut out for him yesterday as he was charged with taking all of our Hunters on a campout for the evening.
We have several clearings cut into the woods above main camp, perfect for an overnight campfire and slumber under the stars. Russ gathered hot dogs and fixin’s, S’more materials, and a first aid kit and off the boys and their counselors went. It was a perfect night, clear and cool. A counselor read from the Lorax by Dr. Suess as the boys drifted off to sleep.
Juxtaposed only a few hundred yards away, our Chiefs (finishing 8th and 9th) donned their Peter Millar and Vineyard Vines to host the eldest ladies from Camp Desoto. I got a kick out of the contrast as I visited both sites. Little boys with their shirts off roasting marshmallows and tramping through the woods right near nervous teens dressed to impress and making polite conversation with the Desoto girls. The Hunters could not comprehend that there were actual girls on site!
The Chiefs had a grand time, playing get to know you games, singing songs, eating pizza and roasting S’mores as well. Reports I’ve received today have been glowing. And the mail back and forth across Mentone will be flowing.
The rest of camp enjoyed a picnic hamburger buffet on the Dining Hall lawn. Richard had spread them out all afternoon playing various games for Block period. A favorite of mine is 9 Square in the Air. The equipment consists of 4 standards in a square with metal piping across the tops. 4 webbing straps criss cross to form, wait for it, 9 squares in the air. It’s a combination volleyball and playground 4 square. The goal is to keep the ball from falling inside your square and to make it to the middle square, the king square. It’s fast paced and entertaining.
Today has been an equally beautiful day. It’s been our warmest day of the summer yet, but still that’s relative. Highs are in the low 80’s now. The river and the pool are warming up and becoming more and more popular.
We’ve held a “normal” day of activities in our rotation, 3 in the morning and 2 this afternoon. I took a turn driving the horseback bus earlier this afternoon. Some of the younger boys rode in the ring, a timed competition walking the horses around barrels keeping everyone focused. Another group of older campers rode out on a trail ride into one of our pastures. Some other boys told me about fish they had caught at our fishing pond. The mountain bikers took a trail ride down towards the river and Desoto State Park.
Tomorrow morning will be a welcome late Reveille after a full week of activity. We’ll sleep in a few minutes and mosey to the Dining Hall for the much anticipated Sunday pancakes before church.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, Glenn