Cabin Overnights Begin!!!
June 13, 2017 by Don Gentle
The tried and tested “cabin overnight!” It is an event here at High Rocks that has gone on for as far as I can remember! I would even say it is a right of passage every year for camper and staff alike.
We are fortunate enough to have five open-air shelters out on our 1100-acre property. The beauty of this setup is that we know that the shelter will be there and empty when we arrive. They are all far enough out to make the hike and the night exciting, yet close enough for us to help them out if something happens like a clogged stove or the like.
So the boys begin by packing during rest hour. They then meet up again at 5 pm choice period to organize and head out. The staging process is always fun to watch and observe, especially with the youngest guys. Their backpacks consist of a flashlight, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a water bottle. Then the real important stuff gets packed, like a full-sized pillow, a stuffed animal, and then a sleeping bag. I am sure you can guess how this begins to look like an eight-year-old. As the staff feverishly try to not only organize the gear but also keep all the campers corralled and entertained the fun of the observation really begins.
Once they are ready to go, we take care of a quick bug spray event, and then off to the shelter. The actual distance in not much, but the adventure is huge! Once we get to the shelter the real fun begins. All the boys are quick to find their place on the shelter floor with their sleeping bag. This usually involves throwing most of what they brought on the ground as they look in their packs like they had no idea who put all of this stuff in here.
One staff member starts to cook, the other staff starts a campfire. This is what I call the really cool stuff; sitting around the fire, in the woods, playing games, and just waiting to have dinner…Wait, dinner? I’m hungry! When will dinner be ready? Can we play in the woods? What kind of tree is that? Can we have smores?
Dinner on cabin overnights has been pita pizzas for years. Every counselor has their own special method for cooking them. Many of the oldest campers cook their own after suffering through the years of their staff messing it up. Once the toasted, saucy, cheesy loveliness is finally ready, it takes a matter of seconds to consume it. Is there any more? Of, course there is… The boys continue to destroy most all of the food that came with them.
Dinner moves into time around the fire where another tradition of smores begins. Toasted marshmallows with chocolate and graham crackers. What a joy… So imagine if you will, how these environmental conditions may now be having an effect on a young boy’s body and clothing. Let’s first go through the list. Dirt… Sauce… Cheese… More Dirt… Marshmallow… A little more dirt… Chocolate… Spilled water from the bottle, oil that has separated from the cheese, sprinkle in some Adolescent boy… A little Smoke… Yep… Pure joy!
Now it’s time for stories. The boys have several role-play games they like to play around the fire. This goes on for some time until the counselors finally call bedtime. As the boys try to make their way over each other and into the shelter, the laughing and craziness are still going on. After several cues, the boys finally quiet down as the staff makes their way to a separate and elevated loft in the shelter. Any trained military officer will tell you the elevated position has the advantage. A few more snickers and jokes and the boys finally quiet down. I have to go to the bathroom…
Morning arrives way too soon. The boys pack up their items. Most just grab whatever is near them, denying anything still left in the shelter is theirs. Finally, everything is claimed and somewhat secured as they head back. The short hike brings them back to camp just before breakfast. They quickly drop off the borrowed gear and throw the rest of the smokey mass in their cabin just in time for the breakfast bell.
Of course, these boys might be somewhat identifiable as they enter the dining hall with their sticky, cheesy, smokey, somewhat dirt and ashen face and shirt. Inevitably, a counselor will come up to one of them and ask “How was your cabin overnight?” The boy simply looks at the counselor with his cheesy, marshmallow, somewhat greasy sooted face and says “How did you know I went on a cabin overnight?”
This is why boys need summer camp…
Don’t worry, mom. It all washes off.
The rest of our day was just as rewarding. We even had the perfectly timed shower right at rest hour. Our first trips will head out in a few different directions tomorrow. I can’t wait to share the details.
Have a great night!