Posted by Larry Johnson on July 25
Well for one last time, helloooooo parents! Can you believe this is the very last blog of the summer? It seems like it was just a few days ago when we were just getting to know each other on the blog. And now tomorrow will be the last full day of camp and everyone will begin to pack up and get ready for banquet. You could tell the campers knew it was their last day of activities today as they didn’t waste anytime getting in everything they could and hurrying to finish their arts and crafts projects. The ladies in Drama class went over their last rehearsal for tonights big showing of “On Broadway” songs, even though they didn’t need the extra practice, they nailed it but there will be more on that later.
As you walk around and talk to everyone, its easy to tell which campers are the “age out” campers. Those are the ones that are at camp for their very last time as a camper and they were starting to realize their time here is coming to an end. You hear them yelling “one last time” as they ride down the zip line or find a way to get their last chance at being blobbed. As a special treat, Sally always cooks a great home cooked meal for all the age outs over at our house and tonight was no exception. They dined on beef tenderloin, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, veggies, snacks as an appetizer and of course, they finished their meal with several (and when I say several, I mean MANY more than one) cups of homemade ice cream. Tonights choice was strawberry, butterfinger, blueberry and of course….oreo! It was really great to enjoy an actual quiet meal with the campers that have spent so much time here at camp and we’ve had the privilege to watch grow up over the years.
For those of y’all that have been loyal readers of the blog this session (I hope theres a few of y’all at least), you know I’ve been talking about my negotiations with a camper that had some issues with taking her first trip off the zip line. Well….today was zero day and now its time for the rest of the story…. As I made my way to the ropes course at the beginning of 6th period she saw me and just smiled and started walking my way. Even a few of her friends knew what was happening and yelled out her name and then said “”There’s Larry!” So what happened next???
She was firm in her answer of “I’ll do it next year” and after I realized she just did not want to go we agreed that she would do it the first day next year. We even made a pinky swear on it and you know you can’t go back on those. Before she left I told her if she changed he mind, just let me know, I would be working in the shed. She smiled again and then left the door open with another “Maybe”. As I was coiling rope and taking an occasional peek out the door at the zip line (which is where she just happened to walk towards as she left) another counselor came in and told me she was making her way up the pole to the zip line. Maybe the passive negotiations worked? She reached the top of the platform (where she made it to last time), but this time she actually sat on the platform, strapped to the zip line and hung her legs over the edge and was perfectly perched to slide off and enjoy the ride. Then she used my own words against me. Remember how I was talking about going as far as you did before and then going just a little more each time? Well, she did just that. She had never made it that far before so she then stood back up, switched over to her climbing belay and made her way right back down the pole. She did exactly what I asked of her (going farther than she had before) and still found a way to avoid taking the ride down the cable. Game, set and match. Well played little lady, well played. I hate getting out smarted by someone that much younger than me. But before she left she stopped by the shed (I think she knew I was keeping an eye on her as she made her way up the pole) and with a big smile was happy to let me know what she had done and would do the whole zip line her first day here next year. So lets just call in a win-win and we both are looking towards finishing this game next year. I was still proud of her for going further today than the other days and even though she didn’t do what I was hoping she would do, she still had a Texas sized smile on her face for what she accomplished not only today but through the whole session.
Thats what camp is about. Its not the zip line or horses or even the circus. Those are just tools we get to use as the campers learn the real values of overcoming their fears and reaching new personal best. Whether its each day or spread out along the session. Its the friendships they make while they’re here and how their friends encourage them to keep going and trying. Thats what makes camp friends so special, and the way these girls have encouraged each other in their club competitions, activities and even in talent show or showtime, is so impressive. Theres a special bond that you just can’t find anywhere else. Not to mention that all this is done with NO electronics around and no tweeting, instagramming, or any other social media. Its all face to face and in direct conversations. Thats another thing the campers “relearn” is the ability to actually talk to one another in person. That’s a lost art in todays society and its really good to be unplugged for a summer and get to watch all this taking place right before our very eyes.
Speakin’ of right before our very eyes, tonight we had right in front of us a spectacular performance form all our campers in our drama class as they hopped up on stage and belted out song after song from Broadway hits. It was a super performance and all the campers got a “standing O” after they were finished and it was well deserved. I can talk to you alll day about going down the zip line or any other element on the ropes course but to get up on stage and sing like they did in front of everyone….theres a load of courage I couldn’t even start to imagine what it would be like and I’m pretty sure I would be using the effective “no” response if someone was trying to talk me into getting up to perform.
Tonight is the final blog since tomorrow after our banquet, I’ll be busy making USB drives for everyone that will have all the pics you’ve seen this session and another one that will have all they’re videos. Be sure to pick you’s up when you check out on Friday.
Before I head out I gotta tell you about our banquet tomorrow night where we’ll find out which club wins the Spirit cup, point cup and the horse cup. Its a special time and when its all over, the campers realize that camp is almost finished and the tears will start to flow. All those bonds of friendship I was talking about will be evident as they say goodbye and you can see in their eyes how special the last two weeks really were.
Folks, we can’t thank you enough for letting us have your most prized possession with us for the last two weeks and again for all you guys that stay up late every night with me to be the first to read about what happened during the day. I can’t wait for you to see how different your camper is from when you dropped them off and please stop by and say HI before yo leave. I’ll be easy to spot, I’ll be the one that looks like they’ve been on the computer as much as some of you guys have this session!
Thanks again, be safe on your way to camp and God Bless,
we’ll see ya Friday.
For the last time this summer…… Have a great night, I’m outta here
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.