Posted by Larry Johnson on July 11
Howdy parents!! Can you believe this is the last bolt for 3rd session already? This session has flown by and I gotta admit, it sure has been fun getting to keep you guys that are playing along at home in the loop of everything your campers are doing up here. I’d like to take some credit for it, but really your campers are doing all the work. They make it pretty easy to have something to report each day with the way they have been working in all their activities and the night time programs. Today was no different as they all took as many rides as they could down the zip line or on their favorite horse. The campers in archery class had their archery tournament and as I was walking over by the pool, I passed two campers with an arrow stuck in their pocket and they were more than happy to let me know they had won their divisions and were the master bowmen for camp this session. Looks like some of y’all may be making a trip to the sporting goods store to buy some new archery equipment when your camper gets home. If ya need any tips or advise just shoot me an email, I’ll let ya know what they’ve been shooting in archery class up here so they are familiar with the equipment.
One of the better parts of my day is when there is (rarely) time to hang out with campers and talk to them. Today Sally had a memorable moment with a camper that is here for her first time. She was talking about all her new friends (that was easy to see, they were all around) and talked about how much she enjoyed camp and she didn’t want to leave. Not only has this camper made a lasting impression on camp in just her first year, but thankfully camp has made a lasting impression on her as well. It has nothing to do with the horses, zip line, waterslide or even circus. Those are just objects AT camp. They are NOT camp. Camp is friendships and bonds built, camp is confidence and respect earned, camp is not letting your friends down no matter how many times you have to try. You earn those things using the objects listed previously. They are just tools. Your campers spirit and determination, the counselors that are their role models and encourage them to keep trying, that is what makes up camp.
Now usually the last day of classes is somewhat of a sad day since we know its gettin’ close to the end of camp. One of the best moments of today was I got to help Sally cook her “age out” dinner for all the campers that are here for their last time as a camper. Its a really special meal that she loves to cook for the girls and due to the fact they were all there early, I’d say they were pretty happy to have it prepared for them too. It was great to have a house full of campers who have been here for so long and have been committed to their camp, club and friends. Although I told them I was grilling corn dogs for their dinner, it was actually beef tenderloin with homemade mac N cheese, asparagus, zucchini bread and just to top it off, they had their choice from 4 different homemade ice creams. I”m pretty sure they all had all four before they left!. (Oreo, butterfinger, strawberry and peach in case you were wondering….) It was wonderful to be able to spend some quality time with the campers and actually have a quiet meal together with out the other 200 campers singing at the top of their voices. (I’m pretty sure they were doing that in the camp dining hall though…..hate we missed it!!)
Earlier in the day I was walking around camp during rest hour and heard what I thought was soundtracks being played in the gym, well, curiosity took me up there to see what was going on and lo and behold, it was just the music playing and the voices were your campers practicing for the Cabaret tonight. I just sat and watched and listened to them and made sure I was back there again tonight when the put on the final performance in front of the whole camp. I’m glad I did cause I sure didn’t want to miss the show. They performed everything from “Greatest Showman” to “The Little Mermaid”, “Anastasia” and more. After it was all finished the campers started chanting out the name of our counselor that heads up our drama class and she reluctantly took the stage and belted out a song that had the whole camp memorized. You could tell they were all happy to hear her sing and proud of her for the way she performed. It was nice to see the campers appreciate the talents of one of their counselors and look up to her like they do.
Like I mentioned earlier, this will be the last blog for the session as tomorrow night we will be busy with our end of the year banquet. This is where the campers get to see which club won the award cups as well as which campers and counselors were chosen as Honor Campers and Counselors. Its special moment but then it all breaks loose. As the end of the banquet draws close, the campers and counselors realize that their time here is drawing to an end and they will be forced to say goodbye for another year to many of their new friends. This is not something thats easy to do. Theres just something about camp friends that makes them special and many of our campers go on to be college roommates or even in each others wedding since they find a way to stay in touch long after their camping years have passed. When the end of the banquet arrives, there won’t be a dry eye in the building. I’m still trying to find a way to get Kleenex to sponsor our banquet and I could retire!!
After banquet we all head down to the river for River vespers where we’ll hear our club wishes and then the age outs (remember them? We all had a big dinner together tonight…) will come up one by one and read a speech they have written themselves about what their camping years have meant to them. Now its time for me to need some Kleenex ‘cause when you hear what these young ladies say and how they say it, it’s nothing short of amazing. Their speeches come straight from the heart and are better than any polished speech you’ll hear from a politician that spent several yers in school learning how to give a speech. These girls will talk about their time at camp, what they’ve learned, how important it is to them and how they’ll cary it on in their life. I mean it just reaches down your throat, grabs your heart strings and jerks those suckers right out. Its the one time in camp I will stop what I’m doing and make sure I get there (o.k., maybe 1 of the 2 times in camp I’ll stop what I’m doing…..I’m pretty good about getting to lunch everyday too!!).
Well folks, Its been real, its been fun and its definitely been real fun to stay up late every night getting to let you guys at home take a peek into what happens at camp once you guys drop off your camper on opening day (y’all still remember opening day….seems like it was only yesterday). If you’ve enjoyed reading all my post about your campers half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them….. well, then I’ve enjoyed it twice as much as you! Be sure to stop by the office on Friday to pick up your USB that will have every picture you’ve looked at this session on it and in high resolution. You’ll be able to go through all the pics again with your camper since they haven’t seen them yet. Please be careful on your way up here Friday. I look forward to seeing everyone again. I’ll be easy to find, I’ll be the one that looks like they’ve been on the computer ALMOST as much as you have these past 2 weeks.
Thanks again for sharing your most prized possession with us during 3rd session and allowing us to play, follow, lead and grow together. We hope you had as much fun keeping up as your campers have (but we doubt it!!)
Take care and God Bless, we’ll see ya Friday morning!!
For the last time this session, 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.