Happy Fourth of July!

One of the best days of the summer- the fourth of July! It’s nearly 11 pm and I just got back from the farm and camp is quiet after a great day! It started early this morning with Rollins leading her staff on a horseback parade through camp singing songs and surprising girls before the wake up bell. All of the Pineview counselors were singing and decked out in red white and blue going cabin to cabin. They sport lots of variations of the American flag on overalls, jump suits, spandex, shorts, sunglasses… Counselor Ashley was in full Uncle Sam regalia- kind of fitting for the head of Heigh Ho. And Helen was George Washington. I interviewed her at Rise and Shine to get her perspective on crossing the Delaware. Breakfast was highlighted by an early morning dance party and it continued on to Rise and Shine where we sang the National Anthem and then more of the current anthem- Born in the USA followed by Party in the USA.

I grew up going to Camp Merrie-Woode where my mom had been a camper in the 1950’s. Gardner spent her first two camp summers at Merrie-Woode before we moved to Illahee the summer before her 5th grade year. I loved camp but I also was prone to homesickness and nostalgia (I still am.) I was always a little homesick on the 4th missing my family home on Mobile Bay cooking hot dogs on the wharf and waterskiing. An Illahee 4th of July doesn’t leave time for too much reflection. (We’ll do that tomorrow!) Our leadership team met early to review bus plans, drivers, setting up the Capture the Flag field and getting Carli’s BBQ out to the farm. Turner and Gordon headed out right away to start their set up. When Turner was young, I called him “Danger Boy.” I was often asking Gordon, “Is it safe for him to do build a fire in the back yard? Is it okay for him to buy that pocket knife? Did you say he could take the ceiling fan apart to see how it works? Do you think it’s okay for him to be in the woodworking shop? Does he really need a Spanish sword?” As an adult, he continues to gravitate toward adventure avidly pursuing paragliding, rock climbing and white water kayaking so this pyrotechnic day with Gordon is right down his alley.

Gordon has been shooting fireworks for 25 years- every 4th of July except the 2020 summer. He is a licensed pyrotechnic (good back up career plan if the camp gig doesn’t work out). Turner has been helping him since 2017 which says a lot for Turner. Gordon doesn’t let just anyone assist with the mortars and wiring. Gardner, Lucas, Marie and I pretty much steer clear and focus on camp and delivering lunch and water out their way! Gordon’s dad Al has joined us for a few days and many of the girls remember his visits from the past few summers. He has full access to the camp golf cart and enjoys joining us for camp meals and seeing the happy camper faces. After nearly two years of off and on pandemic isolation, his camp visits are good for his soul (and ours.)

All activities enjoyed July 4th themes- the canoe lake was the Delaware river and the swim staff played dance music while girls played on the tubes, Tarzan and dive dock. Cabin 1 camper, Lily carries Marshall, a Paw Patrol stuffed animal, with her everywhere. Yesterday he was on the front row of worship and today he attended her swim class. Somehow he dove into the water and the entire lake gasped, “MARSHALL!” Lily nearly burst into tears, but a lifeguard jumped in to rescue him. Cabins 4 and 1 spent the morning on the beanstalk with Mary Lou catching great photos around camp. We enjoyed a favorite lunch- quesadillas with salsa and guacamole- Klondike bars for dessert! Carli got to camp at 5:30 this morning to put the pork in the oven and begin its slow cooking process. I spent most of the afternoon prepping for our evening at the farm, taking out a dozen watermelons and putting 16 cases of Cheerwine on ice. Valeria helped load up the BBQ, baked beans, cole slaw, chips and red and blue iced sugar cookies for our July 4th dinner and the riding staff with Sofie and Ellie met us out there to set it up. As campers arrived on buses and vans they piled plates with heaping BBQ sandwiches and picnicked around the red barn. Gordon and Turner were finishing the wiring as the Capture the Flag game started on the big field. We watched some low clouds and rain in the distance moving toward us around 8:00. The girls didn’t mind running in the rain and the dance party continued, but we had to cover the mortars with tarps and say our prayers! Thankfully it moved through before 9 and as it got dark we gathered on the hill with Cheerwine and watermelon and lots of songs! Gordon and Turner gave us a spectacular show! I hope your July 4th was as fun as ours! We’ll be sharing pictures tomorrow, but for now, it’s off to bed! Sleep well!