We woke up to an overcast morning with some humidity in the air, perfect weather for our Seniors to compete in the whacked-up relay. Before that could take place, each camper had a professional lice company examine him. The good news is that there was not one case of head lice in camp. (It is a shame we were not so lucky when it came to impetigo.) The boys devoured bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, and made their way to their assignments for this final event of the Olympics.
Our boys ran around the camp with all of their might and competed in each activity with everything they had. Both teams were neck in neck as we approached the second to last event in the whacked-up relay, the Dizzy Izzy race. In this event, five members of each team placed his forehead on the handle of a bat while the bat was on the ground. One at a time, each person had to spin around the bat, keeping their forehead touching the handle (hence the “Dizzy”) and then run into the shallow swimming area, touch the dock, and return to tag the next teammate. The Green team broke out to a thirty-second lead, and the final member of the relay team ran to a roped-off area next to the office for the final event, the much-acclaimed pie-eating contest. Waiting for the baton was an Okee who looked like a caged lion, waiting for his prey. The Green team Okee engulfed the pie and took his team to victory. As the Green team erupted and ran down to the waterfront for their celebratory victory dip, a few Okees on the Grey team collapsed in each other’s arms and sobbed.
It was an amazing finish to four days of spirited competition, but for those on the losing end, it was a bitter loss that will stay with them. While I tried to console the boys who ended up on the short end of the stick by letting them know that this was a fleeting moment in time, my eighty-six year old father, who attended Camp Takajo in 1947, whispered in my ear, “I lost the pie-eating contest to ‘Hog’ Bauman during Takajo’s first color war.”
I guess this loss is going to stay with these boys for an awfully long time.
During the remainder of the day, our campers and staff had the tedious chore of packing. Our counselors took painstaking efforts to look at every label of every article of clothing before it was placed into the duffles, in hopes of eliminating the postseason email pleas that take place with the mothers from each cabin.
This evening, we came together for a special banquet in our dining hall when campers and counselors put on their best clothing and enjoyed a relaxing meal, celebrating this incredible season together. Campers and counselors were selected to give speeches at the banquet about what the camp experience has meant to them.
It is heartwarming when you hear our boys express their love and appreciation for their counselors, bunkmates, and group leaders. It is refreshing to know these boys do not take what is given to them for granted. Even at a young age, they have an appreciation for the opportunity given to them by their parents.
As you prepare to reconnect with your child on Friday, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. The dirty ring around the neck and dirt under the fingernails was actually significantly worse a few days ago. We have made a herculean effort to send your boys home clean and healthy. Please keep in mind that your son is physically and emotionally exhausted and has been running on sheer joy, borderline overstimulation, and a hefty dose of adrenaline for the last seven weeks. He is likely to “hit the wall” at the moment he returns home, so I suggest you let him articulate about his camp experience over a week’s time as opposed to over dinner.
Unless you are one of the “enablers” who has allowed your son to smuggle his cell phone into camp, your son has not had use of his electronics for seven weeks. This might be the perfect opportunity for you to set up new family guidelines on the use of electronics in your home. I, for one, will take this opportunity to minimize my sons’ time playing Fortenite. I will enforce the policy to not allow access to phones during meal times with a turn-in time an hour and a half before bed. This structure and routine that camp has provided your son could be used as a springboard towards new responsibilities at home, whether it is making one’s bed or clearing his dishes after a meal, these are a few expectations your son has fulfilled all summer.
At the end of a beautiful evening, our Okees stood in front of the camp to sing the camp alma mater and remain together for Tattoo. They were shoulder-to-shoulder, arms locked when tears ran down the faces of our oldest boys in camp. There is no greater expression of love and appreciation.