Posted by Larry Johnson on July 05
Helloooo parents!! Hope y’all had a great day ‘cause we sure did up here on the mountain. All the campers were finishing their projects and riding their favorite horse one more time as we finished out the last day of classes. As I was hanging out with some campers this afternoon as they were trying to get on as many ropes course elements as possible in the time remaining, there were 2 campers that were looking for the element that had the fewest campers at it so they could walk right onto the element and go without waiting. I was just watching as they made their way around the ropes course and thinking about all the campers doing the same when all of a sudden, 2 more younger campers walked infant of me and yelled, “theres another one!” To my surprise, when I looked down at them to see what they were talking about, one of them was holding a centipede in their hand and letting him “walk” all over their hand as they rotated it for him to stay on top of their hand. It seems that in this time of other campers trying to get on as many rides as possible, these two were oblivious to the rush and their only concern was to find another centipede to keep the first one company as they had constructed a “holding pen” out of sticks for the little critters (the centipedes, not the campers this time) to play in. All of of sudden, I too was tuned in to the “centipede round-up” of 2017 and just enjoyed getting to hang with my new little friends (this time, I AM talking about the campers, not the centipedes) as they played with and took acre of their new “pets”.
Its truly been a great 2 weeks up here and I gotta tell ya, being able to watch all our campers crow and communicate with each other and learn to appreciate the fun things in life like covering someone with shaving cream, competing and never quitting in a swim meet or crazy relay race, learning to have fun with centipedes……and all this without being plugged into the internet the whole time! Who would a thunk it? It truly has been a blessing to get to witness all these girls step out of their comfort zone and try new things for the first time while they’re here at camp. I hope you guys at home have been able to see some of the same things thorough the pictures and videos Isabelle and Avery have been bringin’ ya every night. (and maybe, just maybe, some of these crazy blogs have helped paint that picture too). I can’t wait for you guys to see how much your camper has grown and changed while she’s been here at Skyline!
Now even though were finished with classes, that doesn’t meant tomorrow is gonna be a slow day by any means. We’ll start the day off with breakfast (of course…) and then head back to cabin clean up. Now as soon as those cabins are clean (or at least “sorta clean”!!) we’ll all head out to the horse barn to watch our Grand Championship where our campers that were chosen form todays horseshoe will compete for the coveted title of Grand Champion! It will be a great show and we’ll be there to catch all the action and get you the results just as fast as we can. Of yea, the winner also claims some points for their club and pretty much locks ‘em in for the Horse Cup at banquet tomorrow night.
After lunch, we’ll finally get to see the production from the drama class as they present “The Lion King” in front of the whole camp. I heard them practicing today in the gym with their microphones and it sounded pretty good, I can’t wait to see the final production!
Now after all that, we’ll head back to the cabins and start packing up the trunks and bags with everything and then some for the trip back home. Then its time to head to the gym for our annual awards where all the campers will receive their awards for the number of years they’ve been at camp along with progress and achievement awards for each of the activities they were in. This will all lead up to the final awards of the night as we have our end of session banquet. Now this is where it gets serious folks and I ain’t kidding. They’ll get to see a slide show of some of the pics and videos you guys at home have been looking at every day and then we’ll celebrate our “stitch” winners from each activity. And then it gets cranked up a notch as we announce the honor campers from each group. And then it gets cranked up another notch as we announce the winners of the club cups!….And then it gets cranked up ANOTHER notch as all the camper start to realize that this is the beginning of the end of their session and it will be the last time they get to see/cheer/laugh/ and just hang out with some of their friends. The best thing is they all will have the memories they’ve created with them for the rest of their lives as they laugh and cry (and I mean they DO cry!!) as they talk about all the accomplishments they’ve done while there were here together.
After banquet, everyone will head to their club meeting space and get ready for River Vespers. This is where……you guessed it, it gets cranked up ANOTHER notch (we’re about to run outta notches) as the club leaders light the ceremonial final campfire to signal an end to the competitions and the counselor choir canoes down the river with torches singing songs of Skyline. Then here comes the part that even gets to me…….
Our age out campers will take turns stepping up to the mic and reading something they’ve prepared them selves about what their time at camp means to them. Now folks, I like to joke around a lot in this here blog, but this is one serious time and some of those speeches those girls present will bring tears to your eyes no matter who you are or how tough you think you may be. Its unbelievable to listen to them talk about friendship, loyalty, trust, commitment, and dedication and they do it straight from the heart and thats what gets ya. Its just so dad gum honest you can’t help but to shed a tear to hear them talk like that and they pull it off like a pro. If your camper is an age out camper, you owe it to her to have her present her speech to you and I dare ya not to cry about how much they’ve grown up while they’re here.
Well, its gettin’ kinda long tonight, but I don’t want to sell ‘em short of what this last day means to the campers. I can’t thank you enough for trusting us with your most prized possession the last 2 weeks and I really hope you guys at home have enjoyed our time together as much as I have. Its been a treat and lots of fun to get to bring ya all the action every night and I look forward to seeing ya up front on closing day. Be sure to stop by and say hi (I’m the one that will look as tired as you guys from being on the computer too long the last 2 weeks!) and when you do stop by, we’ll have a flash drive waiting for ya with all the pictures you’ve seen the whole session on it. The ones on the drive will be larger files and just perfect for printing if you’d like to get any done.
Well, Thats all for now and this session so I’m gonna head out and get some rest and get ready to make all the flash drives for ya tomorrow night. You guys have a great night and a safe drive up here.
We’ll leave the light on for ya…….
Thank you and God Bless, one last time….
Larry is originally from Florida and graduated from Florida State University (Go Noles!). He taught and coached for 12 years before working full time at camp. During the off season, he heads up the winter retreats and leadership training with sports teams from all across the country. He’s married to Sally (who tries to keep him in line) and is an avid pilot and caver in any free time he can find.