Adam's Summer Updates

Bon Voyage(eurs)!

Every once in a while you just have to let it all hang out and have one of those BLOWOUT days.  A day unlike any other day at camp that stands out as truly unique.  While many of the best memories from a summer are created on standard routine days, these special days really serve to punctuate a summer at camp.

Yesterday we all celebrated THE GRAND PURSUIT!!

The Grand Pursuit is a Voyageur-themed day in which the boys are divided into four fur trading companies all competing to control the trade routes of the Great Lakes region. Each team is captained by one of our village directors.  Thursday night, after an opening ceremony filled with much pomp, circumstance, pounding drums, and animal skin shirts, the boys who had been here last year rejoined their Voyageur company from last year. This left the new boys waiting to hear which trading company they would be connected to for the remainder of their camper days. (Part of what is so cool about the Grand Pursuit is that the boys will stay on the same team for their entire camper careers.) As their names were read, they were welcomed onto their teams with cheers and high fives, and received their ceremonial team sashes. 

The event was followed up with a barbequed chicken dinner during which teams got to know each other, ate heartily, planned strategies, and practiced team cheers. Then, for the first team event of the big day, we played a giant Human Stratego game which is truly crazy….and truly fun.

Yesterday morning was dedicated to collecting pelts (ok…points…but we call them pelts… more Voyageur-y, don’t ya think?) through Voyageur-themed individual events like archery, balancing a canoe paddle on your chin, and orienteering…and less Voyageur-esqe events like the playak tug sprint, soccer shootout, color crayon scramble, limbo, and sand dune slalom. Each Voyageur could compete in as many events as they wanted, and merely participating in the event earned pelts for their companies. (Yes…this all works better if you can envision your 11 year old as an incredibly accomplished French Canadian adventurer rather than a 5th grader that almost never has his shoes tied!) Later in the morning, the Voyageurs competed in tandem events like a ropes course, canoe fill, a jigsaw puzzle race, and cookout box skee ball to earn more pelts for their companies.

After lunch (wild rice soup in a crusty bread bowl and, yes, your kid ate it!  In fact, we have wild rice in some form in every single meal today…and they totally dig it!), the teams used these pelts to buy up territories on a massive game board. These territories and their resources are worth even more pelts depending on what other territories a team owns around them. The degree of sophistication and the level of thought that these kids put into their strategic geographic domination was truly…um…terrifying! (And further “ammunition” to support my desire to spread pacifism to the campers! If these strategic minds ever get into positions where they become the wielders of military might, we are all in trouble!) Days before the Grand Pursuit, boys have been huddled in small groups looking at the game board from last year and planning their strategy for this year.

The afternoon was spent engaged in team events such as handball, basketball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, bombardment, and quiz bowl. (All told, there are 43 different contests throughout the day!) Every Voyageur had the opportunity to participate in multiple events. The final four events – canoe relay, tug of war, fish-a rama, and the incredible sawbuck (the boys use a two-person saw to cut through a log…legitimate Voyageur stuff!!!) – took place on the Waterfront with the entire camp watching and cheering on their teammates. It is always a great scene. The whole camp totally together, singularly focused. Victories in these competitions earned the fur trading companies territory steals for the giant game board.  Sadly, the weather gods decided to frown upon our final events and unleashed a deluge of rain just as they were set to begin.  The children’s disappointment was evidenced by…..dancing and singing in the rain!  We were not able to complete the final events, but the boys turned those lemons into some high spirited and thoroughly drenching lemonade!

After a hard fought day of intense athletic and mental competition, the Grand Pursuit’s dinner is a wholly different affair. We enjoyed a barbeque on the beach complete with pork tenderloin (Don’t worry, we will wait for the sun to set…that’s better right?!?), wild rice salad (as promised), corn on the cob, fry bread with honey butter and cinnamon sugar, homemade cream puffs, and many other accoutrements. At this barbeque, the time for raucous cheering has ended, and we all sit down together for a pleasant and mellow dinner. It is totally appropriate, after an intense day of competition, to let that intensity go and sit down for a nice meal together.

Following dinner, we engaged in our final strategic rounds of gameplay on the big board, and then headed to the Upper Diamond for our closing ceremonies.  This included a HUGE bonfire, the announcement of the day’s winning fur trading company and, of course, a fireworks show. You know, just like the Voyageurs did at the end of each day!

Hats off to our entire community for making a great day like this happen. This day does not happen without everyone contributing and being willing to work a little harder than usual.  As ever, our staff stepped up to that challenge and truly delivered…More on them in the next update!

As I said, these special days serve as punctuation marks for our session. Safe to say, in this case our punctuation mark is an unmistakable one:

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All is well in the North Woods…