Posted by Larry Johnson on July 16
Howdy parents and happy Friday to ya! Can you believe its already close to the end of 3rd session already? The girls today were taking full advantage of every minute in every class as they all celebrated their “final times” doing each activity throughout the day. Thats a phrase I heard all day as I walked through camp just observing how the day was going. One thing that stood out was all the small groups of campers I saw all around camp. Not all the same age, not all from the same cabin or home town, not all even from the same club. But ALL were hanging out, enjoying each others company and genially interested in communicating with one another. Whether it was playing corn hole during Beli Deli, standing in line to go into lunch or just walking from one activity to another and seeing another camper in passing, there were girls talking and laughing together all day long. After working so hard all session to get their club points or learn dances, gymnastic routines, circus acts, or whatever you can think of it was fun today to watch everyone kick back and just appreciate each other.
Today at archery, the campers turned the tables on their counselors and asked them to have a counselor archery tournament with each set of campers cheering for their favorite one when its was their time to shoot. The campers in Mountain biking got a little treat today also. Now those girls have been all over the mountain with trips to the boys camp, the brow of the mountain, a wedding Chappel, heck, even yesterday they made it all the way to Georgia and from what I hear, somehow stood in 2 different states at one time. Today they made their way to the local “get everything ya need” store here in town known as the Mentone Market. I’m sure they managed to find a snack or something they could use and brought it back to camp with them. Its a great little store if you haven’t been there be sure to stop in on your way up this weekend.
In canoeing class today they had “Splashfest” where they use every way possible to sink each others canoe. Several available options were the soaked sponge throw, the pour a bucket of water in the other campers canoe while they tried to pour a bucket in your canoe and of course there’s the old fashioned way of just hopping the water and splashing each other into sinkage. Between you and me, I think all the girls enjoyed that way the best after watching them splash around the river all afternoon.
Our age out campers tonight received a real treat as they all were invited over to our house for a special home cooked meal from Sally. They love getting to come over and just hang out for a meal with her and finally ask her tons of questions they’ve been wanting to all session long. I think another reason they enjoy it so much is they all get their choice of Sally’s famous homemade ice cream!
In our CSR class we used our “last day” to learn how to cave coil our ropes (about 800 feet of them) and then used the 2nd half of class to clean the remaining ropes in preparation for our big trip tomorrow. While the rest of camp will be doing club meetings and packing their trunks, we’ll head over to the side of the mountain and do a final 50 foot rappel and then a beautiful 100 foot rappel. You’ll love the pics of the girls off the side of the mountain when you see them! Trust me!!
Before we head out, everyone will gather at the horse barn for our final Grand Championship in horseback. All the campers that will be competing have been working extremely hard all session to get their skills just right. The whole camp will be there as we cheer on the finalist in the Grand. The winner will get the Horse Cup presented at our banquet and then will get the customary dunk in the horse trough. Its a huge honor to win the Grand and the campers take it very seriously. We’ll have our photographers and videographers there to catch all the action so we can bring it to ya just as fast as it happens.
After the Grand Championship it will be time for our picnic lunch on the grounds of camp. After that it will be time to start packing the trunks and get ready for awards ceremony where each camper will receive their patches for the different activities and years at camp. After that it will be time for our end of year banquet where the reality of camp and more importantly for some of our age out campers, the realization of their camp time coming to and end started to hit them. In banquet the top performers in each activity will be noticed as well as our honor campers. If you daughter comes home with an Honor Camper paddle, you need to be even more proud of her that you already are. that means she stood out to all the counselors of having that extra special something that made her a model camper.
Now back to the age outs. Once all the awards have been handed out everyone stands for the final song of the session. As the song ends, there isn’t a dry eye in the room as each camper knows their time at camp is finished. Some of them for good. Their time enjoying each other at camp has come to an end. Their time competing against other at camp has come to an end. Their time laughing together with some of their best camp friends has come to an end. The memories they’ve created will never end. There’s just something about camp friends that makes them “special” and it shows.
After banquet and most of the eyes have dried, it’s time for River Vespers where all the campers will head down to the river and sit according to their clubs. The counselor choir will then canoe past everyone singing the skyline songs and using only lit torches for their light. Now as special as that moment is (and it is) theres nothing like getting to hear those age campers I was talking about step up to the microphone and deliver their speech of what their time at camp has meant to them. Hearing this young ladies talk honestly about what they’ve learned and experienced while they were here on the mountain is as uplifting as you can hope for. Forget all the”professional” speakers we have to hear every day on TV and the internet, these ladies are talking straight from the heart and it shows. They’re better speeches than anything you’ve ever heard before. If you daughter is an age out camper please do yourself a favor and just ask them to ready their speech to you. You’ll be proud and probably have one of those teary eyes I was talking about before. Go ahead and ask them to read it to ya, you deserve to hear how great your daughters really are.
Well folks, thats about it for this session. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading all the “news” I’ve gotten to bring to ya over the last 2 weeks as much as I have but I doubt it. It’s been an absolute honor to get to tell ya what all your daughters are doing and what hurdles they’ve completed to reach some of their once thought impossible goals.
We can’t thank you enough for trusting us with your most prized possession this session. Thank you and God Bless!
Have a safe trip up the mountain and we’ll see ya Sunday morning
for the final time in 3rd 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.