By Joe Crain
As a behind the scenes employee at camp I don’t have the opportunity to interact directly with the campers often, although I have had a few interesting conversations with early risers in the Swamper jop as we do our pre-wake up bell cleaning there. And on occasion we caretakers have done special projects with campers, such as last season’s rebuild of the Axmen Village barbecue pit. For the most part I am an observer of camper life, and one of the most intriguing times to observe campers is as they wait in the “Candy Line” in front of the Wanagan, camp’s not always open camp store.
As I said, I have a behind the scene job and so I don’t really know the nitty-gritty of the camp store, therefore as I watch the line progress into the front door and out the back a lot of stuff goes through my mind… Is it open every day, or do the Hanson-Kaplan’s use some sort of algorithm that involves happiness to sugar intake to activity level calculations to decide when to open? Can the whole cabin come in or just that camper with the goofy, short-sided “pop can case” box and the “get-me” list from his mates? What happens if you don’t like candy? Are you shunned by your fellow cabin mates? Do those guys buy candy anyway and then haul home a bag of candy at the season’s end for their favorite sister in order to save face with the rest of the guys? Does Adam Fornear really get to be the curator of the fishing lure selection offered each season at the Wanagan, or is that just a rumor he spreads? If he does, does he really pick lures he thinks will catch fish, or choose only duds so there will be more fish left in the lake for him to catch? (A rumor I like to spread.)
Does all of the candy in the stubby sided box make it back to the cabin, or is there, as they call it in the retail business, “shrinkage”, followed by dubious excuses uttered by chocolatey breathed designated shoppers? What happens if the store runs out of bug spray at the height of mosquito season; do you get to fill out a complaint form or can you complain to Joe Briggs directly? Is it true that Adam and Steph stock their favorite candy in the store and then spread rumors about how awful that particular brand is, just so they can keep those delectable chocolatey goodness bars all to themselves all winter long? Is it anybody’s job to keep track of the expiration dates on the batteries sold? Is there candy line rules or prescribed etiquette? (Such as: 1. Wait patiently for your turn while in the Wanagan and then run out the back door at full speed as if set on fire when you get your stuff. 2. It is ok to jostle, make merry, and joke while in the Wanagan line, but always be polite and courteous once inside the store. 3. Remember it is not the loudest most obnoxious boy who ingratiates himself with the store staff but the most polite. 4…) Does anyone really think that their candy wrapper is biodegradable our do they just treat them as if they were? Can camp staff buy their candy supplies in the Wanagan, or are they only allowed to use the vending machines at Kozy Korner? Does anybody notice that I watch them and day dream about the workings of Wanagan?
Anyway, I always find it fun and interesting to see how excited the guys are as they wait in line for their turn to enter the store and present their cabin’s list to the lucky office workers who get to run the Wanagan that day.
Feeling a bit like the kid who ate to many of his favorite candy bars in one sitting, due to the record breaking 39 inches (as measured at the Duluth International Airport, DLH) of snow we received in the month of February, it’s Caretaker Joe At Camp.