This summer I have been doing some recreational reading during my free time and have been reading the classics. I am currently enmeshed in Tom Sawyer. Just the other day I read that iconic scene in which Tom was tasked by Aunt Polly to whitewash their fence as a punishment for prior mischief. Tom skillfully maneuvered his peers to not only help him with the task, but to actually remunerate him for the privilege of engaging in this labor. It was at that moment that an idea popped into my head. You see, one of the things that is as predictable as death, taxes, and crickets from the camp family when I tell a joke, is the reality that this deep into any camp season, camp starts to look a bit worn down and littered. Usually, after the kids depart (IN JUST 10 DAYS – HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!!!!) we ask our Family Camp staff to clean up the detritus left behind after a summer of hard use of the grounds. But not this time… (Ok, generally speaking I try to be honest with all of you in these updates. But who am I kidding here?! There has been no personal recreational reading or free time for me this summer! But, I needed a device to get me to the Tom Sawyer allusion…thanks for working with me on that one.)
So yesterday during our 4th activity period, the entire camp spent all of fourth period wandering the grounds and cleaning up all of the trash that had accumulated over the course of the past six and a half weeks of camper abuse. Truth be told it was stunning how much they collected. Bags and bags of trash and, no offense to our Family Camp crews, but the kids did a better job of collecting the litter than any Family Camp staff ever has! The place looked immaculate by 4:30. BOOM!
And how did we do it you ask? It’s called the Garbage Auction. Over the past week or so, our Program Director has been working with the staff to collect various prizes that were auctioned off at a giant all-camp event last night. With over 45 items on the docket, there was something exciting for every cabin, every age group, and every taste. It was super fun to watch the cabins scheme, strategize, compromise, and work together to determine which items they wanted to throw their trash points towards (points were allotted to cabins based on the trash they had picked up earlier in the day). We offered some classics like sunset pontoon cruises, extra s’more roasts, stargazing, pizza after taps, and extra money at Dairy Queen. And then there were the more creative offerings like ICE in your water at dinner, a tour of the Little House (the camp director’s house), the opportunity to lead the morning song for the entire camp, the use of the administration’s walkie talkies for a day (this one we are gonna regret!!), and a package of 2 PLY TOILET PAPER for a luxurious bathroom experience (a stunningly competitive auction was had on this one!!!). Great stuff and everyone walked away with something they were excited about. As the auctioneer, I even shaved and put on a coat and tie to lend an air of sophistication to the affair. (I have arranged my life so that I only have to wear a coat and tie when I go to funerals, but I made an exception…for the kids. Well it was a coat and tie over my t-shirt and I still wore my cargo shorts and flip flops…sorta sophisticated, huh?) I personally had a BLAST as I was gifted the opportunity to commune with my beloved microphone for two plus hours with a captive audience!
It was a truly wonderful event and everyone had a great time. This morning, the kids were on my case for the privilege of another opportunity to collect trash again. I told them there would be no prizes for them, but they were undeterred. They even offered me treasures for the opportunity to collect garbage again, so once again, camp will sparkle, and I am the proud owner of a delicious apple core, several lucky rabbit’s feet, a fragment of chalk, and a couple of tadpoles. Thanks Tom!
Camp has an amazing feel to it these days. The boys are clearly very comfortable here and our goal every summer, of making this place feel like a second home to the boys, feels completely achieved. It is just so incredible to walk around and take in the sights and sounds of a community so completely in sync and working. I could not be more proud of these kids and our staff for making this happen…
Today is our penultimate Cruiser Day of the summer. Nebagamon Olympics in the Swamper Village, Opposite Day in the Logger Village (It was jarring to listen to them sing Taps as the wake up bell rang today!), and the Axemen and Lumberjacks have combined for a very ambitious day somehow themed around the Space Race and beating the evil Hanson-Kaplonians that have ruled Nebagamon for nearly two decades in outer space. Apparently the day will involve synchronized swimming, model rocketry and a massive game of capture the flag on the lake using our various boats. As a member of the evil ruling class of Hanson-Kaplonians, I have been assigned a kayak for the game and have been told to prepare to be pelted with wet tennis balls and repeatedly swamped by the rebels. Ummmm…I guess I should just be grateful about the fact that I have been assured that the model rockets will not be fired in my direction…so much for the Cold War. Wish me luck!
All is well in the North Woods….