If you have been following the weather reports over the past few days, you will notice that we have been in the grip of a pretty macho heat wave here at camp. (As much as you pretend to be living your own life there, I am pretty sure one of the first things you do in the morning is check the Lake Nebagamon weather report! It’s ok. Rest assured that your children are CONSTANTLY asking me about the weather back where you are!) With daily temperatures approaching the 90s and quite high humidity, we have really been feeling it. Well…let me clarify. When I say “we have really been feeling it” what I mean is “we ADULTS have really been feeling it!” You see, the whole complaining about the weather thing….that is a grown up thing. I mean think about it. Can you remember the last time that you were sitting at the dinner table with your 11 year old and he broke out into a riff about how the humidity was really dragging him down? It just doesn’t happen. They seem impervious to it all. Rather, the only evidence of the kids being affected by the weather is when you may hear one say, “Hey, I’m kinda hot….let’s go swimming!” And, luckily for your kid, he is in a place where, when he is kinda hot, he gets to go swimming!
The Camp Nebagamon beach is not a waterpark, not a fancy swimming pool with fancy pool toys, not a beach resort with jet skis and wakeboards, and there are no giant blobs. Camp Nebagamon’s beach is on a lake. Just a plain old lake. (Ok, well maybe not a plain old lake. We are talking about, hands down, the best lake in all of Wisconsin!) The only adornments are a pretty rudimentary waterslide and a diving board attached to a wooden raft. (And at this point, we don’t even have those in the water as we are still waiting for the lake to recede enough from the pre-arrival storm floods.) So yeah, just a plain old northwoods lake. But that’s really the beauty of it isn’t it? The fun in this lake comes from one primary source…it comes from the kids themselves. The games played at the lake are largely kid invented games, with kid invented rules, and kid sensibilities dictating them (along with staff who make sure that kid safety sensibilities do not rule the day!). They are great games that involve running in the water, random flying balls, splashing, mud, climbing on counselors and excellent flying knee drops (performed with just about the same levels of reality and true contact as one would expect in the WWF!). These are games with serious consequences…like the volleyball rally game in which, if you mess up the consecutive hits string, you get splashed by the circle of other players. I love this part of the camp experience.
There’s also a great sense of community as older and younger kids play together. Big brothers “buddy” up with little brothers. Groups of kids that normally don’t hang out together wind up playing together in the water. They all have one thing in common: that feeling of MAN THIS IS FUN!!!!
As much as I, an old guy, truly struggle in the heat and humidity of these days, these days are also what summer camp is supposed to be like. You are supposed to spend the day outside and get all sweaty. You are supposed to be oblivious to the fact that you don’t smell quite as pretty as you could. You are supposed to spend the day down at the plain old lake splashing around with your friends and making up games to play in the water. Who can do the best underwater handstand? Who can hold their breath the longest? Who can dominate a game of 500 while being splashed? Yesterday one boy yelled out to me, “I found clay!”…and then proceeded to give himself…and a nearby bystander a mud mask. And the “spa” treatment quickly caught on. Summer stuff…..lake stuff…..kid stuff….camp stuff.
Personally, I am really good at holding my breath underwater. I am headed down to the lake right now to show those runts what it takes to be the boss!
All is well in the North Woods….