By Joe Crain
When I signed off last month I was hoping for some dry weather and some outside time. Well, Great Nature had plans of its own and warm and dry were not in them! What came was more wet, more cold, and more working in doors. Though there were glimpses of normality on a few days for the most part, the first three weeks of October were 10-to-15 degrees below average. The rain trend continued as well and we received over four inches of rain. Camp even had our first snow of the off season on the twelfth of the month! Luckily it was warm enough on the ground that though it snowed for most of the day, little to none of it stuck around long, although I did see a few cars at the local market with a couple inches of accumulation on them. By the nineteenth the daily rains had finally stopped, and that weekend we enjoyed a few days of gorgeous 60-degree temperatures. Though the warmth didn’t last but a few days, the rain had finally stopped for the month and now we are dry but very cold with temps now back to 10-to-15 degrees below average, which this time of year means we are waking up to the teens in the mornings and staying below freezing in the afternoons! The little pond behind our house has been iced over for nearly a week but Lake Nebagamon has no sign of ice formation yet.
Caretakers Andy and Jack used the additional indoor time we were “blessed” with to strip the Big House main entry hall walls all the way up to the second floor landing of all of the 90 years of historical photos and memorabilia and applied a couple of coats of fresh paint. As we like to say around here it was a “big job”; just the annual staff photos alone numbered near ninety, that’s a lot of hangers to remove and holes to spackle! When the time came to put all of that back up Caretaker Andy spent a little extra time rearranging all of them and was able to avoid putting any staff photos on the stair well walls, as they had been, this made them vulnerable to getting banged of the wall when carrying things up or down the stairs. We have averaged about three glass replacements a year in my twenty-four years as a caretaker and the new arrangement, though barely noticeable, should alleviate that frustration for both us caretakers and the poor fellows who it happens to.
Hey, I have some rather exiting news for the cabin counrselors staff – They will all be sleeping in new beds next summer! We have finally entered the last phase of the “Junk the Old Bunks” project. As you can imagine that with nearly 300 camper and cabin staff beds in camp, this has been a very costly under taking that has had to be spread out over many years. Last year saw phase four of the project with the Lumber jack village camper bunks and bunk ladders being replaced. Next spring will see all of the counselor beds being replaced, and all of the hodge-podge of wooden bunk ladders that are left getting replaced with sleek new uniform steel bunk ladders. All of the worn out steel bed frames got hauled to the scrape dealer and I got to spend my rainy start to October dismantling and cutting up the old wooden bed frames and wooden ladders. The wooden bunks that we still had left and in service were World War II surplus beds that Muggs had obtained after the war and were stamped with the date of 1942! That’s 77 years of service! Some of our current campers Great Grandfathers may have slept in those very same beds when going through basic training, and grandfathers and fathers that attended camp most certainly did.
Waking up to 18-degree mornings, and starting to get that skier’s itch in my feet a bit early this year… it’s Caretaker Joe At Camp.