June 14, 2014
If you walked camp today, you would never imagine that we had unusual weather last night. In fact, with the exception of a few of us who were overseeing the camp, we are incredibly well rested.
Since the weather came around 8 PM and we could not take showers last night (not a good idea during a storm), each cabin had time for a great Nightly Ritual and an early bedtime.
“But Steve Sir, wouldn’t the storm have kept them up?”
Nope. Not at all. We checked into each cabin regularly and were quite amused to see that most of the youngest campers slept through everything. I do know that a few campers were somewhat excited by the weather – the 9th grade gals. It reminds me of one of my favorite camp memories.
Six years ago, we had a storm on Opening Day. The youngest boys were the last to eat and the slowest to clean up after dinner. As a result, they did not complete dinner until after the storm became too thick to return to the cabins. We decided to keep them in the Fillin’ Station (our dining hall) until the storm passed.
Meanwhile, we had canceled the overnight experience for the 9th grade campers. On the first night of camp, these campers (7-11 for the women, 007 for the men) go on a canoe trip that concludes with a campout. When we realized that the weather would not subside, we canceled their trip and brought them back for a late dinner.
As a result, only four groups were in the Fillin Station:
• The Rookies (boys aged 6-9)
• 7-11 (young women aged 15)
• 007 (young men aged 15)
• Their respective counselors and Division Leaders (and me).
The Division Leader of the Rookies brought all the boys together and started to tell them stories. He was making them up, but they were rich and fun. Thunder was the footsteps of giants that kept camp safe. Lightning was his flashlight. Of course, they did not literally believe it, but they were mesmerized to learn about the exploits of this giant. No one talked or made a sound.
His story was interrupted by only two things: the thunder . . . and the screams of the ladies of 7-11. At times, 15 year-old gals can wind themselves up. After all, life is a little too boring for the average high schooler. In these cases, it is just too much fun to add your own drama to the situation.
Perhaps my favorite part of the evening was when the Rookie Division Leader challenged the young boys to go over to the 7-11 women and comfort them. I still have perfect recall of the 50 little guys going over to the twenty or so 15-year-olds to give them hugs.
The effect was perfect. The girls simply lost it with laughter. They were not really scared, just excited. Teens often have a high level of emotional intensity. Tears, laughter and screams come easily. They had started with screams, but ended up seeing the humor in getting comfort from campers half their age and then turned to howls and chuckles.
At flag raising this morning, I told the campers that every problem is an opportunity in disguise. Missing torchlight is not a problem, it is an opportunity for extra cabin bonding. Hearing a storm is not scary, it is an adventure. All morning, campers have shared stories of their adventures and their cabin time.
Today, the weather is perfect and we have had a great day. We look forward to a great weekend.
PS Susie Ma’am asked that I include her favorite memory from that storm years ago. There were, in fact, some victims – 9 jars of peanut butter and every saltine in the Fillin Station. Essentially, the storm induced a camp-sponsored raid of the Fillin Station by the Rookies. Giving Rookies free rein to snack is like giving piranhas easy access to herd animals. The kitchen staff said that they simply could not imagine 50 little guys eating that much, but they did.