June 6, 2017
When you are 19-21, it is very easy to be cool in the eyes of the typical camper. You are playful, full of energy and even silly. Campers are drawn to you and your enthusiasm.
When you are over 45, you have to get creative. You cannot play tag for 50 minutes straight or discuss current pop culture/internet memes for hours. But we still want to connect with the campers.
So Susie Ma’am and I cheat.
We cheat in two ways.
First, we bring all the new campers to our home on the first day and serve them cookies and milk. Do we allow other people to use food to woo the campers? Nope, that is reserved for the old folk.
Our second cheat is much more flagrant. We call them “Friendship Games” and “Man Cave”. Susie Ma’am hosts Friendship Games and I host Man Cave. Here are the basics of each.
We invite each cabin to our home once during each session. The girls meet with Susie Ma’am and the boys with me. We sit on the floor and talk. This is our time to get to know each of our wonderful campers. Since we cannot be at all the activities, we bring the campers to us.
This year, Susie Ma’am has fortune cookies with fun questions to inspire discussions. The boys and I use kits from Lego Education to build different aspects of camp and get the boys to talk.
Oh, and we also provide the single least healthy experience at camp. We allow each camper to have a slushee (the purchase of the camp slushee machine has proven to be one of the wisest of all acquisitions), Oreos and Doritos.
If you think we are stooping a bit to make sure that every camper loves coming to the house, you would be right.
I joke with the boys that campers have asked that we make Man Cave more like school, so I have included some academic content. Specifically, I provide a short history segment (History of the Man Cave) and a math segment. Here is the math segment. [Note: this works great for 5th grade and up.]
I hold up an Oreo and say the following, “This is a Double Stuft Oreo. If a normal Oreo is 1 cookie, how many cookies is a Double Stuft Oreo?”
They are initially tempted to say “two cookies”, but we soon agree that there is the same amount of outer cookies and only the inner portion is doubled. They usually agree that it is equal to 1.5 cookies.
I then explain that I have researched this and learned (from the Cornell School of Cookieology) that a Double Stuft Oreo is approximately 1.57 cookies. I then hold up two cookies.
“If one cookie is 1.57, what is two cookies?”
After a little math, someone eventually gets to the right answer.
“And what is 3.14?”
“Yes. Pi cookies. You are getting cookies and Pi. It is like two deserts. It’s a miracle!”
As you can tell, the actually content of the Man Caves is not high-level intellectual challenge. In fact, the quality of the humor is not even that good.
But it is a real joy to get to spend time with every camper, even if it is just an hour. These sessions are the high point of our days.
Over the next few days, I will share some fun tidbits that come from these gatherings.
In the meantime, I recommend eating Pi cookies.