I’ve spent a lot of time with our Okees, our oldest boys in camp, over the last day. Some of it by choice, some due to necessity. Last night when our counselors were on a well-deserved time off cruising aboard the Songo River Queen II on beautiful Long Lake, I went up to Warrior Quad to look after our youngest boys as they retired for the evening. Much to my surprise and delight, over twenty Okees came up to the quad to volunteer and assist me in looking after our youngest boys in camp. Our Okees devoted their evening to sitting with our youngest children, sharing stories, and providing a calm and nurturing environment as our little boys prepared for bed.
When the quad was quiet, I sat with our oldest boys, and we reminisced for hours about their time in Warrior Camp. The boys shared some wonderful memories of their first experiences at camp; the nervous trepidation they experienced those first few nights sleeping in a bunk away from home. They shared recollections of meeting one another and watching those friendships grow and flourish over the last seven, eight, and nine years that these boys have lived together. They reminisced about counselors who made meaningful impacts on their lives, as teachers, role models, and mentors.
The Okees discussed how they intended to spend their last nine days in camp making the most out of every precious moment they have left in the season. Shooting archery, climbing the wall one more time, another banana boat ride around Long Lake, these are just some of the activities on our oldest boys’ bucket lists. However, they didn’t share one rather significant activity that was clearly at the forefront of their minds when they were speaking with me last evening.
After I retired for the evening, at around midnight, our Okees began to implement a well-planned, final prank. Step one required “breaking” into the dining hall. While the rest of the camp was asleep, the Okees managed to move everything in our dining room out to our beach. Every table, chair, napkin holder, utensil holder, toasters, hot bars, salad bars, coffee makers, and trash cans were set up in a meticulous fashion to replicate the floor plan of our dining hall to scale. Not exactly the teamwork that I preach in camp, however, these boys were all in and clearly functioned as one unit, a well-oiled machine.
I got wind of this prank when I made my way to the office, shortly after 6:00 AM this morning. The sun was just rising over Long Lake, and the outdoor dining area was a magnificent sight to behold. Unfortunately, my food service director didn’t agree. Like most pranks that occur in camp, they are rarely seen by the rest of the community. This one would be no different. The Okees were awakened and were summoned to the beach. I applauded their efforts and assured them that moving everything back into the dining room would not be as hysterical as removing it a few hours earlier.
I sat on an Adirondack chair on the porch of our dining hall, drinking my morning coffee, and applauded the Okees as they carried every table, chair, utensil, coffeemaker, toaster, hot bar, and salad bar back into the dining hall. To their credit, they put everything back exactly where it belonged. By the time reveille blew at 8:00 AM, the Okees were exhausted. At that moment, our campers and staff made their way into the dining hall for breakfast. As I bounced from table to table, greeting campers and staff, many had heard the rumor that the Okees had struck late at night, however, there was no evidence.