The weather this week has been “chamber of commerce” conditions. Cool mornings call for sweatshirts at Morning Watch and Breakfast. Not a drop of rain in sight. It usually warms up just in time to shed the sweatshirts and head to first period. Even when it’s warm on the Mountain, and it has been the last few afternoons, it’s usually 5-8 degrees cooler than down the Mountain. Our abundance of old growth oaks, maples, and poplars also provide plenty of shade.
Mrs. Gail and company greeted us this morning with piping hot grits and scrambled eggs, large, fluffy biscuits with sausage or jelly, and orange juice. We eat family style, meaning our hard working Work Crew (high school boys who are mostly former campers) sets all the food on the tables in large platters and bowls. Meal times are certainly not like your grandmother’s table at Thanksgiving, but they are a lot more civil than you might think. A counselor sits at each end of a table of 8-10 boys, supervising the passing of food to the right. No one eats until everyone has been served. It’s an exercise in restraint and self discipline that is good for all of us. Lunch was a Junior Camp favorite, chicken fingers! For dipping, ketchup and Mrs. Gail’s homemade Shazam chicken sauce graced the table. Accompanying the main attraction were scalloped potatoes, lima beans, green salad with diced tomatoes, and rolls. Refreshing, cold scoops of rainbow sherbet cleansed our palates.
This afternoon I was able to sneak out of the office and walk around activities during 4th and 5th periods. At archery boys shot balloons attached to the targets for tribe points. Our younger boys who take shooting sports utilize air rifles in a large walk out basement of Deerfoot Lodge. It’s clean, well lit, and perfect for learning safety and marksmanship. My favorite thing though is talking to the boys who are waiting their turn to shoot. One camper asked me if I’d been at camp since it started in 1959 (man I’m getting old, but not quite that old!). Another was convinced camp started in 1859. Several wanted to know if I’d been a camper at Alpine. Yes, I was, for 6 summers. What tribe were you in? I can’t tell you that! Which color do you like better, red or blue? Nice try, I like both!
I also love asking boys what their favorite activity is so far. The answers are all over the board, showing the unique nature of each boy. Some love canoeing or wilderness. One told me he loved building forts and hiking in the woods at Wilderness. Some love the sports, like basketball or flag football. I watched a competitive game of flag football on my walk, coached and quarterbacked by the counselors. Pinecraft, our new activity this summer for Hunters (1st - 3rd graders), received quite a few nods as favorite. What’s not to like about Legos, Hot Wheels, and building forts out of cardboard boxes.
I watched a few older campers take their first ride on the V-Swing at PA (our ropes course activity). Two giant cables hang from trees about 15 feet apart. The two cables are linked together at their end by a huge, steel D ring rapid link, forming a V. The V is pulled up to a platform on a tree where the rapid link is clipped via steel carabiner to a harness holding a camper. Said camper jumps off the platform and well, you probably get the idea. Happy screams and laughter and cheering from his buddies commences.
Maybe my favorite stop today was Swimming. We’ve had a few maintenance issues with the pool this term. So today we set up a 100 foot slip ’n slide on a gently sloping hill at our golf driving range (that we use for older campers in our longer terms). Look for lots of smiling photos tomorrow from the slip ‘n slide. One of them might just be me! Conveniently, I showed up this afternoon with my bathing suit on, imagine that. So naturally the boys talked me into taking a turn (or two). There’s not much more vintage summer than Dawn soap, a hose, and some length of visqueen plastic.
Tonight brings a much needed change of pace. Tyler is showing the movie Cars in our Alpine cinema (our open air gym). As I type this, they are taking an intermission to enjoy a Moonpie snack provided by our good friends the Campbells and the Griffins from the Chattanooga Bakery. It’s a welcome break for all after a full 5 days of activity.
Sunday also brings a welcome change of pace. We’ll still play, a lot. But it won’t be regular activites. We’ll have church in the morning. The afternoon will hold cabin and age group games and activities, followed by the traditional watermelon served on the athletic field. It’s a day of rest, especially in the sense that it’s set apart and special from the other 6 days of the week.
Monday we’ll be back at it with our regular activities. The term is flying by. Look for an email on Monday with details about Closing Day, Wednesday, June 7.
Thanks for reading and good night for now, Glenn