Bingo, Scavengers and Harry Potter!

Camp girls smiles as she waits fro her turn on the Camp Illahee high ropes course.
Getting ready to climb the Beanstalk up to the high ropes course!

Here’s a business philosophy that can apply to most situations…if you can, try to say “yes.” That’s something that Laurie and I try to live by running camp, and you’d be surprised at how often we surprise those doing the asking. At first blush, you might think that we’d get taken advantage of…but I guess that’s only true if we feel like we’re being taken advantage of…which we don’t. We get hundreds of requests a day between all of us on our leadership team, and our mantra is that we are here to “grease the wheels.” It’s our job to make a counselor’s job as easy as possible. They are doing the yeoman’s work, and I want them to have everything they need to do it and to do it…great! We have high expectations because it is your daughter and I  expect the same for yours as for my own.

I sing the praises of camp counselors to parents and employers alike because I really feel like there is no better training for entering the job market than the work that they do. It is long and exhausting, and though most girls (I’m old enough now to call our college women girls without them being offended) end up with more “jingle” in their pocket at the end of the summer than other jobs, we laugh that with the hours they are working, they are making close to  .70 cents per. Of course, the bed and the great food are icing on an amazing summer, and they are knocking down our doors to get a spot. Some of our best counselors are former campers who have taken a summer off to work another job and are “hip” to the grind that can come with the work-a-day world and can’t wait to get back to the Heavenly to do meaningful work. So, when your own “great girl” grows up, don’t fall prey to the temptation that she needs an “internship” to get a job…encourage her to work at camp, and after doing a great job, she will get an impassioned reference from Laurie or me that is sure to land a terrific job!

So, I started thinking about our “yes!” philosophy because several days ago, we received a pretty impressive request from our Sparks…24 of our oldest campers. They are “Potter” geeks and were really distracted from their own perfect camp world by the fact that the last entry in the Potter franchise was debuting on the silver screen with no apparent access available to them. They penned a two-page letter in which they yearned for a “time-turner” so that they could be in two places at one time…because they didn’t want to miss camp activities, but really wanted to see the movies. They reasoned through the paragraphs that the “time-turner” probably was not going to come to fruition so they would settle on a “van or a bus” to get them to the show. They would, they said, allow us the liberty of charging the movie fee to their (your) Ship Store account (very generous I thought). They addressed precedent and jealousy from other deserving campers as well. I didn’t respond for several days as we considered our response and checked into logistics. But “yes!” was the goal, and we approached it from that end.

Today, I responded via “owl courier” of course. If you look closely, you will find a picture of the owl and the note that was awaiting the Sparks as they returned from lunch for rest hour. I could hear the screams from the other side of camp (literally). The fun thing about the “yes!” approach is that most are conditioned not to expect it, and then are carriers of the “glass is half empty” forward. Anyway…they were thrilled, and my favorite part was seeing fifteen-year olds dressed in Potter garb arriving for their ride to the movie…and no, it never crossed my mind to deduct it from their Ship Store account :-). Fun stuff!

Today was a little overcast and for ectomorphs…probably a little chilly even. I thought it was great. There was no rain, just some drizzle in the morning. Camp looks so great with everything so green, vibrant and fragrant. It smells like North Carolina is supposed to…hemlocks and rhododendrons. There were plenty of alternative plans to choose from…hikes out of camp to Moore’s Cove where the pictures were taken of girls in their rain jackets. Our paddlers went to the lower Pigeon over the Tennesssee border, and Trips Hiking went to Turtle Back and Rainbow Falls up in Gorges State Park. We had girls on the high ropes course and Beanstalk and plenty of activity in camp as well.

Lunch was Chick-Fil-A and salad. Those of you who are aficionados of the chicken sandwich, think Chick-Fil-A, not McDonalds. For dinner, we had Cracker Barrel, a nod to our Southern roots with baked ham, lima beans, green beans, mac and cheese, cornbread, and fried okra…with Hershey Pie for dessert. Hillbrook and Heigh Ho enjoyed “Old Lady Bingo” for evening program and Pineview did a Scavenger Hunt which was full of energy and included timed events like making “sandwich bag ice cream.” My signature was one of the items…which ruined my bingo concentration…but what could I do?

I’m beat. It was a great day, but tomorrow, we sleep in. I heard the girls practicing for worship, and I am excited to join them tomorrow…and thankful that this is what I get to do for my life’s work. There will be plenty to be thankful for tomorrow and for which to lift up praise. Sleep well. Gordon.

One response to “Bingo, Scavengers and Harry Potter!

  1. Gordon,
    I am a little embarrassed to say that just about every time I read your blog I well up with tears of happiness remembering my own wonderful experience at camp in North Carolina. You all do such a nice job and I can see that Abby is having a wonderful time and hopefully making some life long friends. I have been comparing notes with other mothers who have campers at other camps in your area and the response has been less than enthusiastic. I commend you and the counselors on a fantastic job and I think much of it can be attributed to your “yes” philosophy and malleable sensibility. I can only hope that my daughter will have the chance to be a counselor there.Thanks so much for helping me remember those joyous days!

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