This morning, Camp Takajo came together for the Olympic Song Competition. What I love most about our song competition is that it is an event that includes every camper. There is something magical about seeing the camp split into two groups and dressed in their uniforms when our youngest campers get to participate in a meaningful event with their older comrades.
The two teams lined up in single file and made their way into the Indian Council Fire Amphitheater, where they sat by age group, each Olympic team across from one another. Each team sang four camp songs, including the camp alma mater and then performed one original song using the melody from a popular song, with re-written lyrics that define their camp and Olympic experiences. All of the counselors were in attendance and took great pride watching our campers performing.
In the afternoon, the Warrior Olympics reached a climax with their final event– the whacked-up relay. In this relay, every camper on each team was given a task that they had to complete as quickly as possible. Designated runners run throughout the entire campus, reaching each participant as they are performing their assigned task. Events include foul shooting, throwing three consecutive strikes in baseball, bed making, bed stripping, just to name a few, with it all eventually ending with a crescendo at the pie eating contest. Keeping with tradition, after the champions were crowned, everybody from both teams was invited to jump in the lake for a celebratory dip.
The other night after taps, I hosted a get-together for the Takajo Administrative Team to thank them for their hard work and dedication to camp. In attendance was my associate director and my sidekick, 45-year veteran Warren Davis, Warrior Group Leader Hank Fortin (47 years) and his wife Jane Martin-Fortin (37 years), Facility Manager Gerry Simpson (40 years), Senior Group Leader Paddy Mohan (33 years), Junior Group Leader Neil Minsky (26 years), Staffing/Waterfront Director Bob Lewis (29 years), Don Matthews (41 years), IT Director Nick Andreacci (26 years), Waterskiing Director Liam McHugh (23 years), Assistant Warrior Group Leader Harrison Manchel (10 years), Pioneering Director Hal Williams (24 years), Head of Hobbies Stacy Tell (7 years), Athletic Director Jeff Cunjak (21 years) and camp doctors, Rick Warner (27 years) and Rich Garber (27 years). Also in attendance were our new administrators, including Head of Tennis Mike Barnes and his wife Cara, as well as Assistant Tennis Director Steve Olivas along with his wife, Samantha, a valued member of our tennis staff.
During our time together, we reminisced about the good old days. We reflected on the thousands of children that have flourished during their formative years spent here in camp. We spoke about the countless alumni that visit every year who yearn for one more summer at camp. It was at this time that we came up with an idea to provide an opportunity for those who wish to preserve their Takajo memories in the form of art.
Many of you may not know that Paddy Mohan is a professional artist, who has created some memorable keepsakes for our campers to enjoy over the years. I have been the recipient of some of Paddy’s incredible work, and they are among my life’s most-prized possessions. On my fortieth anniversary at Camp Takajo, Paddy drew a picture of me from a photograph that was taken during my very first summer at camp, when I was only nine years old.
As a way of celebrating our nine-year campers, Morty Goldman started a tradition of painting a portrait of the camper on, of all things, the top of a toilet seat. Today, Paddy is the artist who brings these creations to life, and these have become some of the most treasured possessions that our nine-year campers take home with them. During our discussion, we asked Paddy whether he would be open to creating magnificent keepsakes for our alumni or current campers as a way of commemorating this incredible time in their lives.
Through the help of our IT Director Nick Andreacci, Paddy now has a website where you can contact him directly to take advantage of this unique opportunity: http://portraits.camptakajo.com/
I am often asked by alumni to provide a memento for a special birthday or celebratory gift. I cannot think of a better way to preserve this memory than in the form of a custom-created art piece.