Sleigh Bells Ring

Could you hear Santa’s sleigh bells in Mentone yesterday morning? Santa’s sleigh (Jeep Wrangler) delivered Santa and his presents for all the good Hunters (rising 3rd and 4th) of Hunter Hollow. They raced out of their cabins to the Lodge at wake up to see what Santa would bring - contrasted with the usual sleepy walk to the Lodge for Morning Watch. Summer Christmas is a much beloved tradition at camp, especially for our youngest campers. They spent Tuesday afternoon and evening celebrating Christmas Eve. Time was spent making homemade presents,each boy drawing the name of another. Daisy chain decorations were cut and stapled with construction paper to be placed on the Christmas tree. And my personal favorite, boys came to our house where Carter and my girls helped them decorate Christmas sugar cookies (that I may have sampled). Christmas eve is topped off with a reading of an Alpine version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and a devotional from the Christmas story in Luke.

The entire camp joined in on the fun for several meals, singing Alpine’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas at the top of their lungs. Gail was in the Christmas spirit too yesterday, serving us turkey, dressing, homemade gravy, green beans, and cranberry sauce!

And actually Tuesday brought a mixture of all sorts of holidays. The beauty of camp is that traditions spring up each summer, organically, and usually instigated by some fun counselors. Every Tuesday this summer has been Tropical Tuesday, a chance to don that favorite Hawaiian shirt in style. This Tuesday was also Taco Tuesday, as we enjoyed a taco buffet outside on a perfect evening as the sun settled below the Lodge and Canyon cabins.

Boys have such a natural sense of wonder. Last night leaving dinner the sky was all sorts of shades of orange and purple. A number of younger campers ran up to me and said, Glenn, look how beautiful the sky is tonight! The other night an older camper brought me to the edge of the gym porch during Glee Club to show me the perfectly round, orange, glowing, hazy sun as it set over the trees.

Our Chief 2’s return this evening from their pinnacle camp experience, the 4 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. They have been in the mountains of North Carolina, the Nantahala National Forest, near Standing Indian Mountain. The weather tracks pretty closely there with ours and we’ve had almost no rain until this afternoon. They may have gotten a stray afternoon shower but the canopy of trees is thick where they hiked. It’s a gorgeous walk with lots of elevation changes and hundred mile vistas as payoffs for the gains. They finished off today rafting open water kayaks at the Nantahala River.

Speaking of trips, today is Trip Day at Alpine! Hunters and Trappers headed off to Chattanooga for a day indoors to beat the heat. First stop was the Spare Time bowling alley and arcade. Groups split up into lanes and bowled several games, bumpers in place to help make the rolls more friendly. Each camper then got a bit of cash to play some arcade games. After a sack lunch prepared by our kitchen they were off to the Tennessee Aquarium. The Aquarium is probably Chattanooga’s top attraction and completely revitalized downtown Chattanooga when it was built over 30 years ago. There are salt water and fresh water exhibits with hundreds of species of river and sea creatures. When they returned to camp a Papa John’s pizza dinner awaited them, much to everyone’s delight.

The Scouts spent the day in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, initial destination Dollywood. Unfortunately, the rain was set in so we quickly pivoted for a more dry spot. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have many fun attractions. Wayne was with them and booked time at the Ripley’s Aquarium and Museum. Then it was off for pizza, laser tag, and some arcade games. It was not the day planned or hoped for but a great lesson in flexibility. And our counselors made it a super fun day!

It was off to white water raft for our older age groups. The Warriors headed to the Nantahala River for their rafting trip. After enjoying a sack lunch, they were briefed with safety instructions and off they went. The Nantahala is near Murphy, NC and is a perfect beginner rapids course. The river is cool and refreshing and Nantahala Falls, at the end, provides a big thrill. On their way home they enjoyed a piping hot pizza dinner from a local pizza company in Murphy, NC.

For the Braves and first year Chiefs, it was down the Ocoee River. They enjoyed floating down the river, surfing the rapids, and riding the waves. The Ocoee is a dam controlled river of the TVA with more adventurous runs. After their rafting run, they headed to The McCallie School in Chattanooga for some swimming and Mr. T’s pizza (a local favorite in Chattanooga).

I’m happy to report that all trips have made it home safely and are headed to bed, tired out from a full day of adventures. We’re all happy with a late wake up call in the morning by 45 minutes before taking on the new day’s adventures.