The Olympics has come to a close but not before incredible whacked-up relays for our Junior and Senior campers. The Senior Whacked-Up Relay took place late morning and ran throughout the entire camp, taking a little over an hour before two boys squared off inside the ropes down at the waterfront for the pie eating contest. The race was neck and neck and featured everything that our boys have learned throughout their years at camp. There was a canoeing race that required campers to paddle with great speed and agility. Sailors needed to rig a sailboat in record time. The rope burning event required campers to build a fire and burn a rope that was draped three feet above the kindling wood. Two campers had to string a beaded necklace at crafts, while other campers had to sketch pictures of their beloved group leader Neil Minsky.
Campers ran from the lacrosse field where participants needed to score five goals from midfield. The basketball event featured some of our finer long-range shooters and required campers to drain three-pointers. In the baseball event, each team needed to find a camper who was able to hit a home run over Takajo’s left-field green monster. Campers ran from event-to-event cheering on their friends and teammates. In the end, it came down to two guys and two pies.
With only seconds separating when our pie eaters got the green light to start, our Seniors dug their faces deep into the center of the pies and consumed every bit of blueberry and crust until the plate was wiped clean. The senior group leader held up the empty plate for the Grey team, and they were announced the winners. If there is a thrill of victory, then there must be the agony of defeat. We witnessed it today as the Green team tried their hardest and came up a little short. The roles were reversed in Junior Camp as our fifth and sixth graders participated in the same whacked-up relay a few hours later in mid-afternoon. In this case, it was the Green plate that was wiped clean first and held up high for all to see.
The Olympics is the culmination of all of the competition that has taken place in camp throughout the summer and even includes activities such as pioneering, art, and crafts. It represents teamwork, sportsmanship, and all the values that we hold so dear in camp.
After dinner, we transitioned as a camp and came together for our closing council fire in our sacred council ring. Led by the big chief, Neil Minsky, the closing campfire incorporates all of the traditions that were indoctrinated into the camp 76 years ago. Campers participated in the squat dance, witnessed counselors performing a flaming hoop dance, and watched in silence as selected campers read from the heritage box.
With every final campfire, we collect the burning embers from the campfire and place them into Takajo’s urn. These embers are then saved so they may be placed in the closing campfire of our following season. This allows us to maintain a symbolic thread from one season to the next. As we stood together as a camp, surrounding the roaring campfire, we sang the camp’s Alma Mater, followed by Tattoo. As the bugle call echoed, campers and staff bowed their heads in silence, reflecting on all that has been accomplished at Camp Takajo this summer.