First Term Winds Down

My apologies for the long hiatus with no update. These last few days are chock full of action, hour by hour. So that’s my excuse, we’ve been too busy having fun! I’ll give you a brief summary here. I know those of you with First Termers are eagerly anticipating getting the in person summary tomorrow from your camper. A brief reminder that tomorrow’s pick up is from 7:30-10:30 CDT. Boys will be at the cabins and you can drive directly there. Nurses will be passing out medicine under the tent as you pass into camp. Pull off to the right lane for meds.

Wednesday of last week probably holds the distinction as the most fun day of the Term. Mountain Day! A day of celebration and special events like no other day at camp. It’s celebrations have morphed over the years but we have celebrated some form of Mountain Day since the beginning. My favorite addition this year was the pinewood derby for the Trappers(rising 5th). Working with our Associate Director and sometimes carpenter, Thomas Gallagher, each boy designed his car. Thomas did the cutting and the boys did the decorating. There were some creative designs and even more creative decor. Races were held on a track 6 wide with color commentary provided by the counselors. Elated cheers went up for the winners as we whittled down to our finals race with the fastest car from each cabin. John B. from Lookout Mountain, TN rolled all the way to the finish line first in every race including the finals! The boys took so much pride in their designs and decorations - though this is not original to Alpine the element of autonomy allowed with no troop leaders or adults seemed to bolster their confidence.

I got ahead of myself. Wakeup was special, led by costumed head counselors with music blaring. Campers streamed out of cabins decked out in all sorts of get ups. Word spreads quickly that it might be Mountain Day. So they are ready. Sometimes a costume is preplanned and put together, mostly it’s an inside out shirt with shorts on head and sunglasses, or something of the like.

Country band Alabama is the music of choice for Mountain Day (the hometown boys hail from just down the mountain in Fort Payne, AL and still reside in the area). Dixieland Delight and Mountain Music swirled through the air as we enjoyed pancakes with chocolate chips and blueberries for breakfast. Spontaneous singing and dancing and even a conga line broke out while we ate.

Our Team Sports staff brought us a full morning of Olympic competition, tribe vs. tribe. Field events, tug of war, and some relays kept us busy all morning. And yes, there was music there too. That’s the beautiful thing about being unplugged for a time period. It makes you appreciate so much more. A little recorded music on Mountain Day gets us all excited.

For lunch, Mrs. Gail’s Mountain Day special: BBQ chicken awaited us. She slow cooks it all night. By the time it reached our tables it was falling off the bone. Served with green beans, mashed potatoes, salad, and strawberry shortcake, we feasted.

In the afternoon Richard cooked up special activities including the newer tradition of playing of Alabama Gold Rush. It’s a hybrid between capture the flag, tag, and an egg hunt played by Scouts, Warriors, Braves, and Chiefs, throughout most of camp. The boys love it!

Hunters enjoyed a lazy afternoon at the pool. The trappers raced the afternoon away, as previously mentioned.

The best part of the whole day (and maybe the term) came at sundown. The Alpine County Fair. With snowcones, large buttered pretzels, and ice cream I probably need not say much more. But there’s so much more.

Currency at the fair is dried pinto beans for games and a limited number of tickets for food items. Loaded with an envelope full of beans, boys are turned loose in the gym and field to play fair type games to their heart’s content.

Booths line each side of the gym. Take the Plunge (tossing rings into plungers), the Cake Walk, and Wheel of Fortune are a few of the favorites. And outside the gym there’s a chance to dunk your favorite head counselor in water with a baseball toss.

Thursday afforded an opportunity for our advanced fly fishing class to take a trip to Little River Canyon for some special fishing holes and gorgeous scenery. The canyon is the culmination of both forks of Little River flowing on top of Lookout Mountain and is the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River. Full success for the guys as they caught quite a few smallmouth bass.

Thursday night we honored our 2nd year chiefs, our oldest campers in their final year, at our annual Council Ring ceremony. It takes place under the stars in our outdoor amphitheater, with a roaring fire and tiki torches providing light. My favorite newish tradition is the naming of a character trait for each 2nd year chief. Their counselors settle on a unique attribute that describes each boy and we reveal it that night in front of the crowd as we honor them. Together this year, our 31 last year campers have a combined 186 summers of camping at Alpine. Wow! Saturday night Carter and I hosted these guys and their counselors for a steak dinner at our home at camp. We’ve watched these boys grow up each summer and it’s a sentimental night for all.

Friday a group of older boys from Climbing ventured out on a guided climbing trek with several of our climbing counselors and a guide from Higher Ground. They spent the day climbing on real, giant rocks at Sandrock Village. Friday and Saturday brought the culmination of many activity competitions such as the Alpine Open at tennis and the Tour de Alpine at Mountain Biking. Many activities provide some sort of end of camp competition. Be sure and ask your boys if they got to participate in any. I even heard about a judged painting competition at Crafts!

No doubt most of you have experienced the heat wave enveloping the Southeast. Gratefully, it’s just never as hot on top of the Mountain and given the amount of tree cover we enjoy. A few afternoons we were helped by cloud cover from area scattered thunderstorms. Except for yesterday afternoon, the storms missed us and we just got to enjoy the shade.

Carter remarked this morning that this has been one of the smoother terms she can remember in recent memory. We are grateful for the chance to spend the summer with your boys and praying you will pick up positively changed campers tomorrow. Until then . . .