July 15, 2019
As the summer progresses, one of our challenges is keeping everything fresh for the counselors. Of course, any activity or skit we do is new to our newly-arrived campers, but we have learned that every activity is better when the counselors are excited as well.
Take, for example, the “peanut butter” skit.
This is a Susie Ma’am classic. She talks with the campers about the myriad items that every camper must pack – toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, deodorant, etc. She notes that these items take up a great deal of room in everyone’s trunks.
Like a host on QVC, she then asks the big question, “What if there were just one product that can replace all these items?”
Those of us who have seen the skit (and are in on the joke) cry out in mock disbelief: “No way.” “That is crazy talk!” “Tell us what it is Susie Ma’am!”
In the original skit, the response is simple: peanut butter. Counselors then come by complaining of various ailments (bad breath from not brushing, oily hair that needs shampoo, potential sunburn) and she happily solves there problems.
“You are so lucky, I have exactly what you need! Peanut butter!” At which point she applies the peanut butter to hair, teeth or faces.
About 15 years ago, we realized that peanut allergies made the peanut butter skit potentially problematic. Of course, none of the counselors were allergic, but we worried that some peanut butter would be flicked onto someone that might be allergic.
So Susie Ma’am’s solution was to choose a substitute item. It then dawned on her that she could vary the item every session. Further, she enhanced the comic effect by keeping the magic item a secret. We have seen mayonnaise, cottage cheese, yogurt, mustard, thousand island salad dressing and various other permutations.
By changing the substance, the skit retains a sense of fun for everyone.
But last night, the team overachieved. Rather than have counselors as the guinea pigs, we had members of the Leadership Team come forth requesting help. We also made her skit the end of a discussion of the “4 R’s” (Respect, Reaching Out, Reasonable Risks and Responsibility). After we had serious discussions of each of the 4 R’s, Susie ended with Responsibility. She started seriously, but she soon segued packing for camp and the multitudinous items needed. The skit was on its way.
The Leadership Team’s performance was over-the-top and silly. And since they are never in skits like these, the kids and counselors were extra pumped.
By the way, the magic product was BBQ sauce.
I love watching Susie Ma’am do this skit. Of course, I am kinda smitten in general, so that is part of it. But when she is up there, I always remember that she never went to camp and was initially reluctant to become a camp director. Trained at Kellogg Business School at Northwestern to run hospitals, we always assumed that she would do something else.
But something about connecting with the kids and the parents called to her. She is one of the single best listeners that I know. Soon, she went from reluctant camp director to being the best one that lives in our house.
But even then, she was the quiet, behind the scenes person.
Running a silly skit was a “reasonable risk” for her and she has become really good at it.
So the kids laughed, members of the Leadership Team were covered in BBQ sauce and I left with a smile on my face and admiration in my heart. Not a bad night.