Happy Fourth of July!
There is nothing quite like the Fourth of July at camp. For my money, what we have put together here programmatically on the Fourth should be the standard by which all Independence Day celebrations are measured. This is a day that is absolutely packed with interesting and fun activities that center around celebrating the 4th. Our activities today will tour us through the pensive, the patriotic, the musical, the raucous, the athletic, and…the gluttonous. (So gluttony may not be an official American ideal….but let’s be honest here huh? It probably belongs on the list!) There is more than enough action and activity for everyone today….and then some!
Already this morning, the entire camp met at the flagpole to raise a special flag that we only use once a year here (we raise another flag the rest of the summer). This special flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Camp Nebagamon (and we have the official certificate to prove it!) and is a wonderful and very special piece of Nebagamonicana. At the flag raising, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance together, and then a member of our camp family spoke to us about what is special about the Fourth of July to them. This year, our speaker was our director of the tennis program who is also a public school teacher in Arizona. He spoke eloquently about the American Dream, the hope he saw in children who have been leading adults recently on some important topics, and the value of open-mindedness.
In most years, this talk is followed up by my truly frightening attempt to lead the camp in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, but the camp was granted clemency this year as I am dealing with a chest cold thingy and had asked the director of our camp choir to lead the singing. Everyone was relieved….
Then we headed down to the Rec Hall for our traditional Fourth of July breakfast: apple pie and ice cream! Needless to say, this is a huge hit with the kids…
This afternoon, we will be heading into the village of Lake Nebagamon for the annual Fourth of July parade. For many of our campers and staff who only see Thanksgiving Day parades on television, or when they are visiting Disneyworld, exposure to a genuine small town parade is unique. Perhaps they have been to the local parades in your town but, I am betting that those parades are nothing like this one. Sure, they may get to see their elected government officials in various floats…but how often are the actual representatives driving the Ford Focus that is the entire float? Sure, in the grand parades that many of the boys have seen, they may get to see the local fire department ride by in their rigs…but how often is the driver of one of the rigs the woman that serves them ice cream at the Dairy Queen or their very own camp trip director (a member of the local fire department)? Sure, in the grand parades that many of the boys have seen, they get to view local businesses’ entries into the event…but how often will they see a single entry representing a barber, health club, and a masseuse…all on one golf cart? And in the grand parades at home how often is there an entry from a local summer camp? Our entry this year is a gorgeous set of kid-made flags that will be carried by the kids themselves. There is something wonderful about a small town celebrating together…and we are lucky to be a part of that small town and get to share in it. Were it not for the tossing of candy to our boys and the hysteria that follows, the parade would be the perfect event!
This evening we will all head up to the Upper Diamond for a good old fashioned ballgame. Our Junior Counselors will be taking on our Senior Counselors in a game of softball. The game will be complete with announcers and bleachers…and, frankly, terrible softball players!!! Terrible, but truly entertaining! We will be adding to the ballpark feel by having our oldest campers vending hot dogs, walking tacos, and popcorn to the kids as they enjoy the ballgame. Then, towards the end of the game, the boys will be treated to our Feed’em Freedom Sundays….the most decadent, over the top, and frankly embarrassing dessert of the summer! Quite the eating day, huh? Apple pie and ice cream for breakfast, candy thrown at them at a parade, popcorn and hot dogs for dinner, and, finally, giant sundaes.* (Oddly enough, the middle of the day is punctuated with a lunch of Italian beef sandwiches…the Great American Melting Pot indeed. Actually, it is just a SUPER good lunch and we figured we’d go for the meal trifecta today!!!!)
Our night will be capped off, just like millions of other Americans’ evenings, with a fireworks show. The entire camp will assemble on our docks at dusk and talk quietly as the sun sets. I always coordinate it so that we arrive on the docks with at least 30 minutes before the fireworks begin. This gives the kids the opportunity to get comfortable, dip their toes in the water and comfortably just sit and chat with each other about everything under the sun. I have been to many fireworks shows in my life, and, admittedly, many that were far more spectacular, but there is nothing like sitting on a wooden dock on an inland lake in Wisconsin, with your best friends in the world and your feet dangling in the water, as the booms, crackles, and colors of the 4th of July play out over the lake. To be honest, much of the time I don’t even watch the fireworks. I just watch the kids. I watch them laugh and poke each other as the light from the fireworks lights up their faces. I listen to them “oooh and ahhh.” And something about that scene makes me feel more patriotic than I do all year…
(*The Fourth of July at Camp Nebagamon is brought to you by our sponsors, the American Dental Association who wish to thank us for keeping them in business.)
All is well in the North Woods….