At camp, every day feels like a party, even during simple daily tasks. At breakfast, Smat was blasting techno music as we set the tables for the meal, and immediately the task of table setting turned into a dance party. Thomas from Cabin 2 even stood on his chair to get a better position, dancing along to the beat with enthusiasm. The highlight of the morning were the stacks of Chef David’s blueberry pancakes, flipping off the griddle as fast as boys could eat them. It was also director Frank’s birthday today, and during breakfast Dusty asked him if he had any wisdom to impart now that he was a year older. While Frank doesn’t particularly love the attention that comes with birthdays, he does have good advice: “Live in the present, and enjoy each moment,” he smiled. That’s exactly what we strive for at camp, celebrating each moment and savoring life as if it were a party.
During announcements, the paddling counselors continued the party theme. Every trip they announced was delivered with so much energy that it made everyone want to join, even if they had never paddled before. During Morning Assembly, Patrick McGrady yelled that he was so excited to get wet at the docks, all while dumping a full water bottle on his head. Throughout his announcement, other paddling counselors jumped out of the audience and threw pitchers of water at him, leaving his soaked and laughing by the end. The band during Morning Assembly had more campers than counselors this morning, including Simon on the cajon drum, Rusty and Slater on guitars, and Camden leading the singing. We sang “Dust On My Saddle” followed by “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” which set the mood for the day on a high note.
It was certainly a “great day to be alive” at the paddling docks, and the yak shack was buzzing with energy as boys prepared for trips and geared up to practice skills in the lake. Patrick’s announcements had rallied several boys to come to the paddling party at the docks, and they were all discussing what they wanted to work on that morning. Things like double pumping to stern, hand rolls, working on stalls, and a bunch of other terminology they used was confusing to me, but the boys knew exactly what they were describing. One of the boys, Freddy, said that even though we’re in the second week of camp, he’s been choosing to go to the docks or on paddling trips every single day. “I haven’t been to any of my daily activities yet, actually! It’s too fun at paddling” he said, and several of his friends nodded in agreement. They all enjoy being able to choose what they do each day, going on as many trips as their time will allow.
Head of paddling, Jez, worked his way down the bench full of boys, asking each of them what they wanted to work on for the day. One of the boys they nicknamed “Turtle,” said he was willing to work on “anything.” Jez suggested off-side hand rolls, and Freddy said he would help Turtle out. Once the boys all had their goals in mind, they ran off to grab boats and paddles. Since the boys are all working on skills at different rates, they can help each other out, getting the opportunity to learn, practice, and lead within the same activity. The great part about choosing your own activities is that you have more of an ownership to your goals, and it was clear that this was a motivated group.
Patrick McGrady pointed out his camper Thomas, who was loading his backpack into the van at the Yak Shack. “This is going to be Thomas’ first lake trip, he’s really excited. He wants to get into a kayak, so this will be one of his three canoe trips in his progressions.” Once boys get a good handle on tandem open boat paddling, they can move into working on kayak progressions. Several of the boys working on their kayak skills today had actually just returned from a challenging river trip: the Upper Green.
The “Upper Green” section of the Green River is one of the more challenging rivers we run during this session, but the boys had been working hard to be ready for the challenge. Davis is known as Weasley to most of his camp friends, and was the youngest boy on the trip. However, since he had prepared adequately and progressed through the skills, he was no less ready for the big rapids ahead. At camp, the adventure trips have no age limit or minimum age requirement; if boys are ready for the challenge, they are free to sign up.
The initial trip plan was to run the 9th section of the French Broad river. However, after a weekend of heavy rain, they found the height of the river to be too high, making their original plan too dangerous. Though the French Broad had too much water, the opposite had been true for the Green River until this week. The Green River’s dam has been broken, cutting off all the water so there hasn’t been enough to run it, since the dam isn’t able to let any water out. The silver lining to the story was that the excess rain water was just enough to raise the levels above the spillway and make the Upper Green run possible. It was the perfect storm, and the counselors knew that the boys were ready for the challenge.
One of the big rapids they were planning to run is called Bayless Boof, and Jez had the boys walk up to the rapid blind to scout it out before they ran it. On the count of three, the boys turned around to face the rapid for the first time, and instantly they simultaneously breathed, “whoa!” The rapid ahead was a rushing swirl of whitewater, huge and intimidating. Though big, the boys had been learning all they needed to know to tackle the water, and the counselors knew they were ready. One by one they dropped in, paddling hard and clearing the class III rapid. They returned to camp tired, proud, and hungry for more.
It was Turtle’s first time on the Upper Green, as it was for most of the boys that day. I asked him, were you scared looking at that huge rapid? “Not really,” he shrugged, “It was exciting!” He plans to go on many more exciting river trips during the rest of the session, and we’re looking forward to keeping the party rolling tomorrow at camp. I’m sure those boys will be back at the docks again tomorrow, continuing to party their way through paddling progressions.
Other highlights of the day:
- Morning Watch: Nic spoke about anger, the theme of this week. His main point was, rather than dwell on what made you angry, channel your energy into focusing on how you can handle your anger and understand the situation.
- Lunch: Meatball subs with huge meatballs, peaches, seasoned fries, and apple cobbler
- Dinner: sweet and sour chicken with rice and egg rolls, plus chocolate cake with sprinkles for dessert
- EP: Counselor Hunt, zombie edition! This new game is called “Counselor Zombie Rescue” and is like a live video game. Counselors hide around the property, waiting to be rescued by campers. Once found, you have to return them to the Dining Hall alive, without letting the zombies eat them on the way!
- Progressions: -Edward H. and Philip in Iroquois became Rangers in Basketball
- Durham B., Jack S., Sam D., and Will H. all earned Ranger in
- Carson S. and Hartt D. earned Ranger in Rock Climbing
- Thomas F. became a Warrior in Soccer – the highest level!
- Jack R. earned Ranger in Disc Golf
- Jamie M. is now a Ranger in Archery
Congrats to all our campers who worked hard and earned new progressions today!
If you want to see more pictures and videos from today, make sure to check our Facebook and Instagram, @fallingcreek