We have been blessed with wonderful weather today on the Mountain. At lunchtime Richard and I checked the weather and the call was for 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. What we got instead was overcast skies, cooling the Mountain down, even if a bit humid. No stormclouds in sight. At lunch we were almost certain we would be going to Plan B this evening. As I sit here on my screened porch I can see and hear the running about and cheering of boys playing away on the Team Sports Field.
The Scouts have had a fun treat this evening, cooking out their dinner at the Ridge fire ring. Hot dogs (or tube steaks as we like to call them at Alpine) over an open fire, does it get any better? Dessert, you guessed it, S’mores. Trapper head counselor Stephen Maroda has actually set up an elaborate Scavenger Hunt for his age group, the final stop being a fire ring where they will roast a S’more before bed. It’s a fantastic night to be outside.
Last night we had an almost full moon over camp. I’m anticipating the same tonight, unless it was done last night, I haven’t checked. At camp, the moon rises up from behind the dining hall, pool, and eastern end of the Team sports field. It’s quite a sight as it makes it’s way over the tops of the tallest trees just off the end of the field.
As promised, I would like to tell you the usual schedule for after lunch, on a routine day like today. Well, really there’s no routine day at Alpine but you know what I mean! Lunch finishes about 1:30 with any announcements from Richard. If we have any birthdays we celebrate them at lunch. I have the pleasure of wishing a Happy Birthday to the camper in front of the whole dining hall. It’s quite a birthday present to have 350 people at your party singing Happy Birthday to you. And like most else at camp, we have our own little twists to the Happy Birthday song, adding a little flair.
Rest hour is a much needed respite for an hour, til 2:30, during the heat of the day. Most days are spent on beds reading, napping, or writing letters. Today each cabin had a visit from a nurse, a cabin (house) call, if you will. Carter and I started these a few years ago. We do them once during Jr camp. Our goal with these is to be very proactive if there are any boys who might have any medical needs that have not made it up to the infirmary. We want to catch any rashes or bug bites that might need attention – we have learned that sometimes little boys are simply having too much fun to make the trip up to the infirmary. So we bring the infirmary to them!
The bell ringing for Store period, signaling the end of Rest Hour, is one of my favorite sights in camp. If you are standing on the road by the store, you will hear a hundred feet hit the floor at once. Next comes the loud clapping of screen doors. Then from around the corners of the cabins in the Canyon come the first boys, running full speed, hoping to be first in line. They come from all directions, hoping to secure their place in line quickly.
After making a choice of candy bar or ice cream treat they have a few minutes of free time to enjoy. Eating and visiting are common in front of the store. The Ping Pong, Gladiator Court area up behind the store are packed out with boys, making the most of their newfound energy. About 3 a bell rings telling us all to head to our 4th period. After 4th and 5th, with a 15 minute transition, a bell will ring calling us back to cabins. Boys get towel, soap and shampoo and wait to be called to the bathhouse for their turn in the shower. Two counselors sit just outside each bathhouse, checking to ensure that each boy has a shower.
Cleaned and changed, boys might enjoy a few more minutes of free time before being called to Retreat in front of the Dining hall. Retreat is an old tradition that dates back to even before Alpine, when Mr. O was camping growing up. We line up by cabins, single file, with a counselor in front and back. We turn and face the flag pole, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as the flag is lowered for the day.
Richard calls roll then announces the much anticipated night program for each group. He’s sort of our local Alpine celebrity because he brings the fun!
A few short minutes from there and dinner’s on the table. After dinner it’s usually off to Glee club, our all camp singing in the gym. I’m sorry I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned Glee club in this term yet or not – so this may be redundant. Glee club is a long time Alpine tradition. Through the years we have amassed many Alpine songs, written to pop and rock classic tunes. Desoto Girl to the tune of Brown Eyed Girl, Hey Tree (longtime program director) set to the Beatles’ Hey Jude. If you think that a bunch of boys together are too cool to sing you should see Glee club in full swing – they are not too cool. Of course, like everything else here the secret is the counselor. If the counselor is singing at the top of his lungs and having fun, the boys will follow suit.
So that’s usually from about 7 to 7:45, then the earlier announced night programs begin. Most nights we split off, dividing activity by age group, for maximum playing time. By 8:45 Richard usually calls us back to cabins, to brush teeth and get ready for bed. The night is capped off with a devotional time in each cabin, which I believe has been described in one of Carter’s earlier posts (or maybe mine?).
We sleep to the sounds of crickets and cicadas chirping. Even now they are in full song as I type this on my porch. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and do it again, but each activity will bring something new and fresh. We’ll be playing hard all day, with friends and counselors, enjoying this beautiful little spot on Lookout Mountain that God has given us.
Hopefully these times have been enjoyable for you – if you are like me it’s fun to glance at your watch during the day when a family member is away from you and think about what they are doing at that moment.
We’ll take a break from the blog on Saturday and hopefully be back Sunday with a weekend update.
Thanks for reading and good night for now . . .