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Morning Watch and Cabin Overnights

Jumping for joy! (with help from the Blob)Jumping for joy! (with help from the Blob)

It was a peaceful morning on the mountain as we gathered for Morning Watch today. Morning Watch is a time where we come together for a thought to start the day, quietly taking in the morning sights and sounds as we sit on the benches by the lake. Throughout the summer, counselors (and at times, campers) take turns sharing a daily thought, challenge, or story, which is often based on a part of the Falling Creek Code. It’s the first thing we do each morning, and today Perry was the counselor who spoke.

“Today I wanted to talk to you about perseverance,” he began. “To me, perseverance means being willing to withstand something you think is negative.” Perry related this to the daily chores that campers share in the cabins. Sweeping the floor or making your bed isn’t the most fun thing to do each day, but persevering efficiently through a task that isn’t your favorite leads to more time for fun activities. Perseverance is also a big part of Warrior Spirit in the Falling Creek code, especially when you persevere through something that is intimidating at first. Boys might not make it to the top of the climbing wall on the first try, they might be initially intimidated by the zipline’s height, or they might face some homesickness during their first time away from mom and dad. However, through the encouragement of their peers, support from their counselors, and perseverance within themselves, they will continue to try, and grow from these attempts.

Camp sets boys up for success as much as possible, but more importantly, camp is a safe place to fail. Boys learn that it’s okay to not be the best at everything, but it’s always encouraged to try. At Falling Creek, failure doesn’t mean you did a bad job, and it doesn’t mean you have to be ashamed or worry about bullying. Instead, camp is a place unique from school or home because boys are exposed to controlled risk, appropriate challenge, and the freedom to fail. This is important, because with that freedom to fail comes the opportunity for growth, and that’s what new experiences at camp are all about.

All smiles on the field today!All smiles on the field today!

For many boys, one new experience at camp is the Cabin Overnights. During every session at Falling Creek, each cabin gets to go on an overnight together. With our increasingly urban societies, there are a growing number of boys (and youth in general) who don’t have the opportunity to go camping. Though the activities offered at camp are undoubtedly fun, the opportunities for camping out in the woods are invaluable. Some boys who come to camp have never had the chance to sleep in a primitive campsite, or spend time away from “man-made noises” like cars and machinery. Even though we don’t have the time to go on a trip off camp property during Junior Camp, a boy can still have the experience of camping outdoors with the cabin overnight. It might even make him realize how fun camping is, and that he has what it takes to sign up for a trip on a longer session!

Nothing like camp friendsNothing like camp friends

While the boys were loading their packs with supplies to make chicken fajitas for supper, there was plenty of excited chatter. Grant had never been camping before, and was curious but excited about how it would go. In Cabin 5, Kieran told me, “this is going to be my third time ever camping!” They were preparing to go to the shelter named Ridgetop, and were excited since it’s the only double-decker shelter. His cabin mate was carrying a big pot, and told me “I bet we’re making pancakes for dinner!” “With a pot?” I asked him. When he found out they would actually be cooking chicken fajita tortillas and s’mores, he exclaimed, “oh, that sounds even better!”

Cabin Honeymoon was ready to go, each camper armed with his own hiking stick. The boys had been searching for the perfect hiking sticks that afternoon, preparing to head out on the trails. The boys weren’t the only ones ready to go: “Boo bear,” Brandon’s teddy bear, was tucked safely into his arm for the hike. Cole had nestled “Nippy,” the stuffed rabbit, into the top pocket of his pack so that he could see out while they walked. Maybe if Nippy and Boo bear are lucky, the boys will share a bite of their s’mores with them tonight.

Falling Creek sits on 890 acres of beautiful mountain-top land. However, the main area of camp is only a relatively small portion of that, which means that many boys don’t get the chance to explore all the miles of trails and dozens of shelter outposts scattered across this mountain. These include classic shelters that some alumni remember, like Octagon, as well as newer shelters like the Shire. One of my favorites is Chief’s Lookout, which faces a great mountain overlook, perfect for watching the sun set in the evening. During Cabin Overnights, boys have the chance to not only get to know their cabin-mates better, but also see a little more of Falling Creek than they would otherwise see in their daily activities. When cabins take their overnights to these shelters, they get a quick glimpse into the beauty that this mountain has to offer, enticing boys to come back year after year until they’ve seen all the trails and corners of this property.

Tonight, half of camp headed out on their Cabin Overnights, and tomorrow night the other half is doing the same. While those camping out were prepared with ingredients for chicken fajitas, chips and salsa, and s’mores, the rest of camp enjoyed pizza in the Dining Hall, handmade by our awesome kitchen crew. In the morning, we’ll welcome everyone back and share breakfast together before another fun day of activities. We’re looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

-Annie Pharr

These guys meant business during yesterday's Evening ProgramThese guys meant business during yesterday's Evening Program

More Highlights From This Monday:

  • Today was Superhero Day! All the boys and counselors were dressed in capes, their favorite superhero t-shirts, or even full superhero costumes.
    Superhero themed shirt while blacksmithing!Superhero themed shirt while blacksmithing!
  • Breakfast: Chicken biscuits with scrambled eggs, hash browns, oatmeal, and a yogurt and granola bar with fresh blueberries and cottage cheese.
  • Lunch: Taco Tuesday! Boys could make their own soft tacos or nachos, with ground beef, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream on the table. They could also opt for a taco salad from our stocked salad bar, or broccoli and cheddar soup, plus everyone’s favorite s’mores pockets for dessert.
  • Dinner: Chicken fajitas cooked outdoors with salsa and cheese (plus s’mores) for our boys on overnights. Homemade pizzas, salad, and grapes for the rest of us.
  • Evening Program included the Catawba Tribe playing a huge game of the ever popular dodgeball in the Thunder Dungeon, while the Iroquois Tribe played a series of fun games on the turf field.
    Getting creative in Arts and CraftsGetting creative in Arts and Crafts
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Fun on Day One

We're having a ball already!We're having a ball already!

The first thing people notice when they arrive at camp on Opening Day, is often the incredible mountain view from our overlook, gazing out across the Green River Valley and the surrounding hills of green. This morning as the sun peeked over the ridge, those same mountains were shrouded in a sleepy mist, blanketing the valley and making the view even more spectacular. The weather was cool and crisp as we woke up, since it rained during the night but was clear before the morning bell. Energized by the refreshing temperatures, everyone gathered eagerly at breakfast, fueling up with a hearty meal to prepare for the first full day ahead.

Chef David and the rest of our kitchen crew had been busy early, preparing homemade french toast on the griddle for breakfast. We also enjoyed sausage links, grits with butter and cheese, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh blueberries, strawberries, and oranges, as well as cereal on every table for plenty of options. After the meal, we started the day off right with Morning Assembly on the front porch before activities. Morning Assembly is the time where everyone gathers for songs, skits, and announcements to start the day. It’s funny, high-energy, and sets the mood for a great day. With a full day of activities ahead of us, there was no time to waste, and cabin groups were heading excitedly to their first locations of the day.

Every great day starts with Morning Assembly!Every great day starts with Morning Assembly!

At the F.A.R.M. (Food, Animals, Repurposing, and Manpower), the boys would be building terrariums, taking a tour of the garden, and playing with the chickens. Before building their personal terrariums in jars, the FARM Manager, Zeb, explained how terrariums are home to a tiny ecosystem. He detailed the water cycle that happens in a terrarium through condensation and evaporation, comparing it to earth’s water cycle on a larger scale, and how rain is necessary for the plants in our garden. Each boy added pebbles, soil, and moss to their terrariums. They could also decorate them with small plastic dinosaurs.

After making terrariums, the cabins were able to see what was growing in the raised beds in the garden. “Who can tell me what kinds of bugs are good in a garden, and what kinds are bad?” Zeb asked the group. They were observing some tiny aphids that had found their way onto our okra plants, and the campers all pointed out that these bugs were pests. However, several boys also spotted little ladybugs, slowly making their way along the leaves and eating the aphids as they went. They also spotted spiders and a praying mantis, both good for eating other pests on the garden plants. As they moved through the tomato plants, carrots, snap peas, and squash, the boys were able to see a whole ecosystem of bugs that they didn’t usually notice in their day to day lives. They also got to see the tiny watermelon which were slowly growing, guess which plant was rhubarb, and pick one of the radishes to taste it. “This tastes so spicy!”, Miller exclaimed, surprised.

Some of camp's fine feathered friendsSome of camp's fine feathered friends

Gray M. was eager to meet camp’s 23 chickens. “My grandparents have a farm too,” he told me. “Except I don’t think their chickens like me much.” He held out a worm for one of the chickens to eat from our compost area, and was excited when the hen pecked it right out of his hand. “Did you see? That chicken just ate my worm!” Ty was the first boy to hold a chicken, picking up Queenie, a Rhode Island Red who is one of our most social and curious hens. She walked right up to him, acting like the queen of the coop, just like her name.

Though hanging out with the chickens was an exciting moment, the boys had plenty more excitement ahead. I asked Hugh what he was most looking forward to, and he said it was horseback. “I’ve only ever ridden small ponies around in a circle at the zoo,” he explained. When I told him that the barn staff would be taking them on a ride around camp on our horses, his eyes lit up. “Oh! This is gonna be so fun!” he exclaimed.

Thumbs up for a great first day!Thumbs up for a great first day!

The fun part about Junior Camp is that the boys get to try every activity, enjoying a sampler plate of what camp has to offer. After a delicious lunch of grilled cheese, tomato soup, pasta and kale salad, and caramel sugar cookies, we celebrated the birthday of Max in Cabin Gall! We then recharged during Rest Period, and headed right back into the activities for the afternoon. There were boys paddling around in canoes on the Lower Lake, coloring crazy patterns with oil pastels in Arts and Crafts, climbing to the top of the Climbing Wall, making arrowheads in Blacksmithing, practicing their aim in riflery and archery, and more. Over these next few days, each boy will get their chance to visit every activity. The eagerness and excitement throughout the camp community is palpable, as the boys run from one fun activity to another with their cabins.

BIrthdays at camp are so much fun!BIrthdays at camp are so much fun!
Reaching the top of the climbing wall!Reaching the top of the climbing wall!

Tonight’s dinner was baked chicken with potato wedges, honey glazed carrots, a full salad bar, and vanilla pudding with Oreo sprinkles on top. For Evening Program, the entire camp split into Green and Gold sides and then played a campwide game of Capture The Flag. Each team has its own half of camp that is theirs to defend. In this version of the game, each cabin group must stay together. You can move anywhere in camp within the boundary that Smat described to everyone. If you encounter another cabin on your side, you can challenge them to a rock, paper, scissors duel to gain valuable items the other team may have in their possession. There are also hidden balls on the opposite side of your team that you can quietly sneak into enemy territory with your cabin group to see if you can find. These balls will gain your team points. If you find the main opponents color flag, and can pick it up and successfully run it back to your side, then that becomes huge points for your team. Without question, both the boys and the counselors were loving playing this game tonight. Even the camp physician and his family were playing hard tonight.

After the big EP tonight, the boys ran to the Dining Hall to enjoy milk and cookies. Everyone headed to bed happily exhausted, ready to do it all again tomorrow morning.

-Annie Pharr

Flag football is as popular as ever this session!Flag football is as popular as ever this session!
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Junior Camp Opening Day!

We’ve been waiting all summer for this whirlwind week of fun, and today Junior Camp Opening Day is finally here! Junior Camp may be our shortest session of the summer, but we pack all the same fun and energy into these 6 days, making it the perfect introduction to camp for our youngest campers. When the wake-up bell rang this morning, it was already shaping up to be a great day at Falling Creek. All the counselors were dressed to greet families in their white polos, and we were fortunate to have blue skies and sunny weather to welcome campers today. When the gates opened, there were eager boys waiting to drive up the mountain and start their week of adventures.

Settling in and making friends alreadySettling in and making friends already

From there, it was the exciting bustle of moving into cabins, greeting new friends, and plugging into the games around camp. Counselors were helping move trunks into bunks, taking group photos of families as they walked down the steps to the lake, and directing enthusiastic campers towards their cabins. The energy was contagious, and before lunch even started there were already games on the field, dodgeball and basketball in the gym, and warrior ball at the dining hall. Most of the boys this session are coming to Falling Creek for their first summer ever, but we also have a few boys who will be returning for another summer of adventure and reuniting with their friends from last year. We have campers joining us from 17 different states and 2 different countries, but regardless of where they traveled from, they were all ready for a fun and memorable week.

Two thumbs up for the first day!Two thumbs up for the first day!

Boys were greeted as they came down the hill to the dining hall, some carrying backpacking packs as big as them, already prepared for exploring. Even though we have a few boys return, Junior Camp has a session length that is ideal for brand new campers to check out Falling Creek for the first time. The format of the week is different from our other sessions, so that boys have a chance to try each activity at least once. Since boys move around as a cabin to try out all the activities together, it is a great “sampler plate” of what camp has to offer. We had plenty of boys who were wide eyed and excited after arriving on camp property today, eager to try new things and meet new friends.

Finding our cabins for the week!Finding our cabins for the week!

If you’re young boy stepping onto the Falling Creek property for the first time, the array of opportunities and activity options can seem overwhelming. Luckily, with the younger ages this session, cabins do everything as a group, ensuring that each boy is involved and engaged. This way, they try activities that they may have never thought to do on their own! Along with the traditional camp activities, boys in this session still get to experience typical Falling Creek traditions, including Morning Watch, Morning Assembly, cabin overnights, free choice times, rest hour, Evening Program, and Campfire on the final night of the session. Helping boys have fun and build confidence away from home is the central focus of this session. Junior Camp is unique with it’s high levels of energy and fun-filled days, especially when we have so many young campers in that wiggly and excited phase of their lives. Our counselors are ready to match the same levels of excitement that the boys bring this week!

Meeting counselors and getting settled in to the cabinMeeting counselors and getting settled in to the cabin

In a session this short there’s no time to waste, so we hit the ground running today! After you all started heading back home today, the activities began with no hesitation. Before our traditional Sunday lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and a warm roll (a favorite for both campers and staff), the boys had a quick cabin meeting to officially meet each other, and then gathered as a camp community at the Morning Watch area. Yates, Marisa, and Program Director, Kyle, welcomed all of the excited boys and quickly described the week ahead, explained the Falling Creek community resources available to the boys, and reviewed the emergency procedures. After lunch, each cabin followed a rotation of activities that included fun games, checking in with the medical team, smiling for a cabin photo, learning the process of getting a life jacket to enjoy free swim each day, and visiting the Dining Hall to learn what mealtimes would look like. The boys then jumped right into enjoying the first period of the 17 activities they look forward to participating in over the session.

Welcome to camp!Welcome to camp!

For dinner, we hosted a picnic supper next to McGrady Gym. The boys and counselors enjoyed grilled hamburgers with all the fixins, homemade potato salad, Texas Caviar, and slaw, with a brownie for dessert. The cabin groups had a chance to sit together on the turf field, enjoying the atmosphere that many campers say is one of their favorite camp traditions. Evening Program was a huge scavenger hunt, loaded with fun and crazy items that the boys worked together to check off as cabin groups. After our crazy, fun, Opening Day, the boys headed back to their cabins for their bedtime routine and Evening Embers. This is a time to talk as a cabin and check in with each other about how the day went, stories they want to share, or what they are most excited for tomorrow. As you can see, it was a busy and exciting first day, and it will only get better from here!

Already having a ball!Already having a ball!

If you want to keep up with what’s going on at camp in a more visual way, our summer photo system within your CampInTouch account provides a great way for you and your family, friends, and guests to have a window into your camper’s summer experience. Our intention is not to try to be comprehensive and capture a photo of every camper and counselor every day, but give you a broad idea of what is going on at camp. CampMinder, our technology partner, helps us to offer an intuitive interface that we hope you’ll enjoy. We will post news and photos by lunch each day reflecting on the previous day.

When you access the photo system within CampInTouch, you’ll immediately notice the organization of photo albums. If you happen to review photos from the longer sessions, there are trips that the boys can sign up for, and these trips are posted separately and by individual adventure. You’ll also see a season selector at the top of the screen (which also gives you easy access to great camp memories from years past!). Selecting a photo gives you a much larger view of that image, and from there, you can swipe or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the entire album.

Downloading, sharing, saving favorites, and purchasing special photos or gifts is also very easy to do. Use the gray and white button (next to the yellow shopping cart button) for a menu of options including downloading of the photo to your computer. Downloads are free, so do not add photos you want to download for free to your shopping cart (Special prints and photo gifts are available for purchase through CampMinder, so use the shopping cart for those items). The “star” icon in the upper left corner of the photo is a quick way to select favorites to save for later viewing, downloading, or ordering. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our camp office if you have any questions or issues with the photo system features.

This summer we are also excited to remind you about Waldo, an optional photo delivery service where you can get all the photos of your camper delivered straight to your phone! Waldo is separate from your CampMinder account. It uses facial recognition to match your camper’s face to photos in our album, and then sends links to the photos to you via text messages. Parents, be sure to check your emails for more detail, but we hope that this can save you time and make it easier to see your son’s adventures.

We also encourage you to check out our news being posted daily on Yates’ personal Facebook page (yates.pharr), the Yates’ Yak blog on CampMinder, Falling Creek Camp’s facebook page, our Instagram site (@fallingcreek), and on the Falling Creek Website (fallingcreek.com/blog).

We hope that you all had safe travels today after we saw you at camp. We feel very fortunate that you chose to share your son with us for an exciting week at camp. Friday, August 9th will be here quicker than the boys want it to be and we are ready to make the most of their time with us!

-Annie Pharr

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Final Day of 2-Week Session

“It feels like it’s only the third day here!”, one camper remarked to his friend as we headed to breakfast. Indeed, time flies when you’re having fun, and these past two weeks have been full of fun, friends, and adventure. As parents, you’ve probably been counting down the days, but here at camp we can’t believe where the time has gone! Today was the final day of 2-Week session, and we’ve been spending these past couple weeks together enjoying the outdoors, building skills in activities, growing deeper friendships, and gaining more self-confidence and independence. We enjoyed our last activity periods today, the final chance for boys to work on progressions and finish projects.

All smiles on one of the many paddling trips this week!All smiles on one of the many paddling trips this week!

At Morning Watch today, Beau started our day off by asking us, “What is a friend?” He described a long list of qualities that good friends have, including being a good listener, being supportive, acting with kindness, and accepting others for who they are. He asked the community to think about what kind of friends they are, and reflect on the impact they make on those around them. Since we can’t help but influence everyone around us, Beau challenged us to make that impact a positive one, especially today on our last day, and be the kind of person that we would want to be friends with.

Drawing self-portraits in Arts and CraftsDrawing self-portraits in Arts and Crafts

As Beau shared this morning, you become like the company you keep, so it’s important to choose to surround yourself with people that help you become the best version of yourself. Luckily, at camp we get to live in a community with hundreds of kind friends, mentors, and teachers. These past two weeks we’ve been surrounding ourselves with not only great company, but pretty views and fun activities too. If just one person can make a positive impact on another’s life, think about what a great impact hundreds of people can have on each other while at camp.

This crew backpacked Clawhammer Mountain this week!This crew backpacked Clawhammer Mountain this week!

The morning was spent enjoying activities as usual, and we even had two final trips head out this morning, one to the ever-popular Sliding Rock and the other as a day hike to see the Triple Falls at DuPont State Forest. After lunch we had a “Lost and Found fashion show” in the Dining Hall to reunite boys with their misplaced items. This not only helps us work through the lost and found items that collect throughout the session, but it’s also a hilarious way to end our final lunch. Counselors put on all the lost and found clothing (which is comically small on them) and parade around the Dining Hall like they’re on a runway, while boys keep an eye out for which clothing might be theirs.

Afterwards, we had an extended Rest Hour for packing and getting our trunks ready to go. Once everything was ready to go for tomorrow morning, we returned to our afternoon activities, and then dinner. Evening Program was one last opportunity to play games with their tribes.

Collecting supplies to build one more fortCollecting supplies to build one more fort

We close every session with Campfire, which gives us time to reflect as a community and enjoy songs, skits, and verses in an area special to camp. Tonight was our Candlelight Campfire, where everyone lights their candles as we sing the final song, Falling Creek’s version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” It is a beautiful way to end the day, sitting together in the campfire area with glowing candles that reflect off boys’ faces. One of the verses particularly resonates with the atmosphere during our Campfire: “so when you leave tonight, by the fire’s light, please leave your spirit here. And we’ll let the trees, and all the memories, guard them all till we’re back next year.”

Everyone headed to bed tonight tired and happy, dreaming about this whirlwind of a session, and all the fun and growth we packed into a seemingly short couple of weeks. Parents, we know your sons can’t wait to see you tomorrow morning! The gate will open at 8:30am, see you then!

-Annie Pharr

Sailing away at Lake Summit!Sailing away at Lake Summit!

More Highlights From This Final Day:

  • Congrats to XC and lacrosse counselor, David Cowan! He was awarded the “White Tiger Staff of the Week” award today for consistently being an outstanding staff member.
  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with sausage, cheese, and tortillas to make breakfast burritos, plus oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, and granola.
  • Lunch: mini corn dogs with macaroni and cheese, grapes, creole chicken gumbo, a full salad bar, and oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert.
  • Dinner: Chef David cooked up his famous beef brisket, baked beans, rice pilaf, rolls, and a full salad bar with brownies for dessert.
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Critters and Cooking

There is something about snakes that fascinates little boys. It doesn’t seem to matter the creature – creepy, crawly, furry, scaley, etc. – our campers love them all, but especially snakes. Because of boys’ tendency to poke around in the woods and catch critters, it is even more important that they are educated on the snakes we have in this area. Boys need to know the risks of snakes, not necessarily because they should be afraid of them, but because they need to know how to identify them and behave around them. During this morning’s “snake program,” Steve Longenecker (SFL), educated boys on how to identify snakes and maintain a respectful distance away from them, but he also instilled a sense of wonder and awe for these creatures in the boys’ hearts. Nearly 100 boys chose to come to his program, the most of any session this year!

One of our boa constrictors that lives at the Nature Hut, named One of our boa constrictors that lives at the Nature Hut, named "Hulk"

SFL has been part of Falling Creek community since 1975, consistently educating boys in wilderness emergency medical aid (WEMA), leading climbing trips, hosting snake and falconry programs with his birds of prey and snakes, and even teaching how to cook his famous fried dough “Longenecker Lumps.” Today’s education opportunity was his snake program, where SFL teaches boys about native venomous and non venomous snakes in the area. He cares for two copperheads and a rattlesnake, both native to this area, as well as a huge boa constrictor named Hercules. SFL’s goal is to share his knowledge about snakes with these boys, ensuring that they are informed and have an accurate understanding of these creatures. Once the boys are more informed, they can appreciate and respect snakes for the impressive animals that they are, rather than just being terrified of them or thinking they are inherently bad. They will also be more educated on what to do if they ever encounter a snake on the trail, and know not to pick it up or play with it. He leaves his legacy by instilling a sense of wonder in the boys, and sharing his love for the animals that surround us, all while educating and dispelling myths or misunderstandings.

One common misunderstanding that SFL clarifies, is the thought that we have native poisonous snakes. If a snake was poisonous, it would harm us if we bit it, but rather we have venomous snakes which could cause harm if they bit us. The two venomous snakes we have in this area are rattlesnakes and copperheads, and SFL brought each so the boys could have a chance to see what they looked like. All the boys were captivated during the presentation, marveling at the snakes as SFL spoke. SFL told us about how snakes hunt by sensing heat through the pits on their head and smelling with their tongue. To demonstrate, the boys watched intently as the copperhead struck a hot water balloon, sensing it’s warmth, but was completely uninterested by the cold water ballon. “Whoa!” The crowd exclaimed at once, impressed by the strike and the two streams of water that sprayed out from where the fangs punctured. The boys were fascinated when SFL pulled out a rat to feed to Hercules, and they all watched the boa use his tongue to taste the particles and “smell” the rat in the air, take a bite, and dislocate his jaw to swallow him whole. Hercules eats once every two weeks, and this rat would take him a whole week to fully digest.

Charlie the Copperhead, under careful watch of SFL just outside the frameCharlie the Copperhead, under careful watch of SFL just outside the frame

Though watching a snake eating his snack might not be the “activity of choice” for everyone, the boys at the F.A.R.M. were busy making a snack of their own. During this session, our tomatoes have started turning ripe enough to harvest, so the boys have been picking the different varieties throughout the week. We have a mix of tomatoes varieties, including cherry tomatoes (small red ones), jubilee tomatoes (small yellow ones), better boy tomatoes (the classic red kind you’d put on your hamburger), Mr. Stripey tomatoes (large striped ones), and more. After harvesting enough to work with, the boys enjoyed preparing their own tomato sauce today at the F.A.R.M.

Preparing tomato sauce with the tomatoes they helped grow!Preparing tomato sauce with the tomatoes they helped grow!
Now for the fun part: mashing the tomatoes!Now for the fun part: mashing the tomatoes!

They took turns smashing up the tomatoes in a bowl until they were like a paste. Then, campers added salt, olive oil, and a little water to the mixture for more flavor. Finally, they put the pot of tomato sauce on the stove, and waited for it to simmer and thicken. The smell of fresh tomatoes and simmering olive oil makes me hungry just thinking about it! While the sauce cooked, boys make “bannock bread” over the fire to dip in their homemade sauce. Bannock bread is a simple recipe for fried or roasted dough, perfect for making on a campout. The only ingredients are flour, water, and salt, which the boys mixed together to form a dough. Next, they wrapped the dough around sticks, and roasted it over the campfire. Though simple and easy to make, the bread is surprisingly tasty when cooked. The hardest part is having the patience for the dough to heat, and holding it far enough away from the fire that it doesn’t burn.

Jack mixing flour, salt, and water to make the simple doughJack mixing flour, salt, and water to make the simple dough

Once the boys had their camping-style bread, they dipped it in the homemade sauce. It’s already an enjoyable experience to cook your own food, but it’s even more special when the food you cook was also grown and cared for by your hands. Seeing the tomato plants go from flowered vines to bearing fruit is a neat experience, especially when you can then cook that into something more. Last week when the boys made pickles from the garden’s cucumbers, some of them didn’t realize that pickles were made from cucumbers! Many of our boys have never cooked before, grown food, or picked food straight from a garden to eat. It’s a cool learning experience to see a small glimpse of where food comes from.

Whaley roasting his Whaley roasting his "bannock bread" dough so he can dip it in the homemade sauce

Tomorrow is already the final full day at camp, which is hard to believe. We’re looking forward to our final activities tomorrow morning, and I’m sure you can’t wait to hear all the stories from your sons on Friday!

-Annie Pharr

More Highlights From This Wednesday:

  • Today was Kyle’s birthday, our incredible Program Director! His wife Jules, who also works here at camp, presented him with a birthday cake handmade by our kitchen staff at lunch.
  • Evening Program was a memorable one: We had a camp-wide Color War, capture the flag style! Everyone met on the ball field for the Green vs. Gold event, where boys tagged each other with bags of chalk powder during their capture the flag game. By the end, everyone was covered in a rainbow of color! Stay tuned for pictures!
  • Breakfast: Pancakes with syrup, crispy bacon, and cheesy grits. Plus a yogurt and cottage cheese bar with fresh berries, oranges, and hard boiled eggs.
  • Lunch: Chicken parmesan with sandwich buns, sliced peaches, seasoned fries, italian wedding soup, a full salad bar, and m&m cookies for dessert.
  • Dinner: Kielbasa sausage with cheese pierogies, green beans, a full salad bar, and a cherry puff pastry for dessert.
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