Camp is for the Campers, but the Counselors have fun too!

By Sandy Schenck

My alarm clock goes off in the quiet cabin and I awake to find my campers standing next to my bed staring at me intently. “Is it time for breakfast yet?” they ask. “Start getting ready, boys!” I answer; “Might as well make a day of it.” A sudden whirlwind runs through my cabin as the seven campers standing before me proceed to rip every piece of clothing they own out of their trunks. “Oh, boy” I sigh and climb out of bed laughing.

After some cleaning and finally rediscovering the floor in our cabin, we head to breakfast. I am not sure what the meal was,  as I left to get a glass of milk and came back to find the boys had demolished every piece of food on the table.  Growing boys—what can you do?

Announcements after breakfast consist of the Word of the Day, Bird of the Day and the crowd favorite, the Ort Report.  As you may have guessed, my campers are by far the loudest and most energetic when it comes to any instance when they are encouraged to make noise and do so with reckless abandon. The camp is Ort-free (ORT stands for organic recyclable trash), meaning we are in COOLSVILLE! The campers are then split up into mentor groups to go out on their morning hikes, and I joined one as well to lend a helping hand.

My group is headed up the Reasonover Creek where, we are told, a mud pit awaits at the end. We set out in search of the fabled pit in hopes of a glorious mud fight. About halfway through, the group’s mentor looks at me and says “Cameron, I know exactly where we are going;  I am very disappointed we are not bushwhacking and hopelessly lost yet!”  Fortunately we had a great time even if we were still on the trail and knew where we were headed. The group passed through the BRX basecamp and left a few “gifts” behind to keep them company. The campers made stick people and left cryptic messages all around their camp—they had a blast playing a prank on the Expeditioners they all look up to.

After much travel and blackberries we finally made it to the promised land; the mud pit lay before us. The campers took their places in the mud and the battle began!  Mud went flying in all directions as campers hurled and threw handfuls of the mush.  In the end it was all fun to fun, but the real fun was attempting to guess what color our clothing had been before we had been slopped.  The hike was an amazing success.  In order to share our hiking experience with the rest of camp, we wore our battle stained clothing to lunch.  However, the Cabin Fairy did not approve of our dirty attire; we were sentenced to cleansing by lake water and forced to jump in the lake after lunch, much to the amusement of the campers.

This brought us to rest hour and a GRP rain storm.  My cabin, along with the rest of base camp, sat back and enjoyed the perfect soundtrack to a nap.  Most of my cabin sat and played cards while a few read to themselves for a bit of relaxation and recharge before activities.

The bell for first period activities rang and unfortunately the rain was still around.  Not to worry—our incredibly creative staff wasn’t about to let a few rain drops stop us from having fun!  I assisted a low ropes challenge course activity which focused on team building and communication to complete a series of tasks.  The most impressive thing was the campers’ ability to almost seamlessly adapt to their new roles in each activity.  As first period came to an end, we broke for snack before heading on to the next activity.  I headed down to the gazebo to assist again with Tae Kwon Do.  The campers were now under the tutelage of a third degree blackbelt, Sean.  I quickly learned how strenuous the moves were and was very impressed by the fortitude of the campers in their dedication to learning what our instructor had to offer.  For free time,  I was joined by several campers who were involved in a quest to find the legendary Ort Man action figure.  I pondered the clues with them and even helped dig a pit in hopes of success, but the prize eluded us for another day.

Dinner was the next item on the menu.  Fresh and cleaned up after free time, my cabin and I once again braved a sea of hungry campers to reach the lodge.  We had a bit of a surprise half-way through the meal; not one but two birthdays were celebrated today and the entire camp was treated to cake. Banana cake, to be exact, and my cabin went bananas for it.  Not one crumb went uneaten, but of course the same can be said for the green beans and potatoes.  Once again the Ort Report shook the lodge after we had finished our meal.  Ort Man and Scrappy, or Scrappy and Ort Man, if Scrappy has her way, joined us for another entry of ORT MYSTERY THEATREBUM BUM BUM!  This time President Obama presented us with another clue to help solve the case.

Once dinner had been cleaned up and put away, the evening program was all that was left.  My personal favorite: the Appalachian Shindig!  Everyone came up to the lodge completely decked out in flannel, cowboy hats, pigtails, and a few dresses.  We had a blast!  Right hand stars, circle left, alaman left, swing your partner! Sweat and smiles covered every face in the lodge, everyone dancing and laughing; it was a sight to see.  The live band was amazing, getting all the campers up and having a good time and teaching them something new and surprisingly a lot more fun than they would have suspected.

As the dance came to a close, the clouds broke again.  This time the rain was welcomed with open arms as it fell, cooling the campers as they made their way back to their bunks.  My cabin started to get in their beds and I noticed something that had been happening all day; my campers were smiling.  I couldn’t help but smile back, with a day like that behind me and another one waiting on the other side of the horizon.  People say there is no such thing as magic, but I believe this place is proof that there is.

*Many thanks to Cameron, one of our cabin counselors and our guest blogger!

Check here for some photos from Tuesday, July 27.