Remarkably Ordinary

This past week, we completed a full 7 day week of activities and life at Alpine. Typically, I love to take the time in these posts to highlight special events and goings on around camp, but as I began to think through the past few days, I was struck with the realization that the most admirable aspect of them was the fact that they were normal- almost habitual in nature a week into camp. Mr. O always used to say that boys thrive in a routine. Therefore, our schedule is intentionally designed to see growth “in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.” It has been refined over the years, to make fun filled summer days remarkably ordinary. So, I’d like to walk you through the “day in the life” of an Alpine camper.

At 7am, the counselors in each age group announce the beginning of a new day. Boys rise from their bunks, throw on clothes for the day, and make their way to the bath house sink to brush their teeth. Before they know it, they’ve gathered as an age group for Morning Watch. We like to sing 2-3 songs that are up tempo, fun, and full of truth to get the day started. For instance, the most popular involves listing the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We follow that up with a hymn and brief devotion from the Head Counselors. The purpose is to set the tone for the day and return thanks to God for the blessing of a new day. It’s critical to creating the Chrisitan community we cherish at Alpine.

Campers then file into the dining hall that Glenn wrote about in his previous post. Breakfast is served and then boys return, with varying degrees of excitement, to their cabins for clean up. Some boys take the competition very seriously, aiming to win the age group competition daily. Making cleaning a game makes it fun, and it also shows boys the importance of responsibility, hard work, and organization. Boys then gear up for 3 activity periods in the morning time, which are each 50 minutes in length. We’ve found this length allows enough time for each activity to be enjoyed, but not enough time for the fun to go stale. 15 minutes are allotted between activities to prevent anyone feeling unnecessarily rushed. For example, a walk from waterfront to the Ridge is the longest in camp, and would take a Hunter or Trapper no more than 10 minutes at a normal walking pace.

We sit down for lunch at 12:45pm each day, and follow that up with a rest hour from 1:30 until 2:30. This means that the warmest part of the day, and often the most common time for an afternoon shower, is spent indoors. Boys are operating at a high level, and they need physical rest, even if they don’t sleep. We celebrate the end of the break with store period, because most boys need a little afternoon “pick me up” to get moving again. In between the two afternoon periods, we open up the Power House. It’s a key component to keeping the boys hydrated and healthy during a day at camp. We try to space out fueling opportunities, as we have found it helps guys stay energized throughout the day.

From 5:15 until 6:20, we have shower period. Boys enjoy this part of the day because once they shower, they have free time until dinner. Guys enjoy sitting on their cabin porches playing cards, getting a round of disc golf in, hitting the tennis courts, or simply catching up with their counselors and cabin mates. Then, all of camp gathers in front of the dining hall for retreat. For years, we have lined up by cabin to hear what the night activities will be for the evening. As each age groups’ activity is announced, campers erupt with excitement and cheers. We then head up the ramps to have dinner before descending upon the gym for Glee Club. Singing camp songs is a fun way to build community and help teach new campers (and staff) about the history, tradition, and culture of Alpine.

Night programs vary from active and competitive to relaxed and adventurous depending on what each age group needs each night. Our program director, Roderick Russ, does a fantastic job selecting from our many options to make sure each age group gets to try everything. The sky above the team sports field is often a mixture of blue, orange, and pink, as the sun sets on another day of camp. We wrap up night program around 8:45, and send boys to brush their teeth yet again.

Before heading off to bed, each cabin gathers together for a devotional from their counselors. Most spend a few minutes debriefing the day by sharing highs and lows, and then spend time reading from the Bible and praying. Each cabin gets a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, which is a phenomenal resource for teaching boys of all ages about the story of Scripture, and God’s plan of redemption through Jesus. Morning Watch and Devotions serve as bookends signaling to the boys that all we do at camp, and the fun we get to enjoy, is because of the God who gave us life and created our world.

It’s this rhythm of life in Christian community that has made days at Alpine so impactful for so many for so long. It’s life, not as it always is, but an imperfect image of what it was designed to be. Ordinary to some, and yet, remarkable to behold.

Thanks for reading! Wayne