Days of Camp! July 23, 2018

Hi Folks,

We have had a string of odd days up here, but today was definitely the oddest.  Not long ago, two counselors approached and asked if they could arrange “A Day out of a Hat.”  This was something we had done back when they were campers they really thought was fun, so they wanted to bring it back.  In an exercise of complete disregard to the whole idea of unforeseen consequences, I agreed.  It did sound like fun.

Well, that day was today.  The way it started was last night, at our flag-lowering assembly before dinner, the 2 counselors pulled a meal out of the hat, and that’s what we would have at the breakfast hour.  They pulled out…..lunch.  So, this morning at 8:30 AM, we had lunch.  We may have dodged a bullet, because if it was, say, tacos, that would have been a challenge to face first thing in the morning.  Fortunately, the menu called for macaroni and cheese with smokey links, and that was actually a pretty nice breakfast.  There’s protein, and cheese of course…(we’re in Wisconsin).    So it went over pretty well.  At almost every lunch we also serve a relish tray with carrots and celery and pickles and often some home made pickled green beans.  And, yes, that was on the table this morning too.  Honestly, that relish tray is a favorite of mine.  Yet, at 8:30 this morning, I just couldn’t do it.

As we finished the meal, they got the hat out again, and pulled out the morning schedule.  The first thing up was Evening Program…naturally.  That was Blue & White games, and the boys had a lot of fun doing that.  Normally that time is cabin cleanup, so we probably could have told them they were going to do almost anything instead, and they would have loved it.  And then it was on to 3rd period.

Having mentioned the unforeseen consequences, now is a good time to re-visit that.  Turns out that camp counselors get into a sort of groove, and when you mess with their routine, some just get lost.  That was true of a few guys who – in spite of announcements – found themselves going to the wrong activities.  It didn’t take us long to get them back on track for the time being.  That said, all day long it was a theme of finding guys who were supposed to be here, but were there because that’s where they usually are that time of day.

After a few confusing hours, it was lunch time.  And today that was dinner.  And it was awesome!  Let’s take a moment to sing the praises of our cooks and our Kitchen Manager, Bill Miller.  Bill is spending his 25th summer with us, and the man knows how to cook.  He can whip up incredible food of almost any cuisine.  One of his best is blackened chicken and red beans & rice.  Thank goodness that wasn’t the morning meal!  It was mid-day and it was incredible!!  It’s also a pretty heavy meal, so we were thankful to have a normal rest period at the normal time.

The afternoon continued on it’s confusing path.  After we finished lunch-dinner, the hat came back out and they pulled out the afternoon game plan.  We had 4th period, then a free period, then 1st period, and just a short while ago, we finished breakfast.  Yep, our evening meal was pancakes and sausage.  Think anyone complained?  No way.  What kid wouldn’t love having pancakes for dinner?  It’s not something you wanna do too often, but as a special treat, it was really nice.

And finally, karma came a callin’, and so after dinner we had cabin cleanup.  They knew it was coming….it had been delayed, not canceled.  Still there were a few moans and groans when that one came out of the hat.  But they were good sports about it, and afterwards we finished the day with the morning free period.

Days like this are opportunities to learn about some people.  It seems clear ALL the kids had a fun day.  Many of the kids thought the change up of routine was great and – of course – they’d like to do it again and again.  Some guys, however, didn’t love the change.  They all said they had fun, but they missed their “normal” schedule.  Both approaches are certainly valid.  Besides…once is enough for us!

Last Friday represented a first of the season for us.  We had a storm roll in Thursday evening, and the “heavy dew” (it never rains at camp) just kept coming.  It never poured too hard, but it rarely let up either.  We kept urging the radar to change, and that didn’t help a bit.  So, for the first time, we had a full on indoor programming day.  In the morning we had a wide range of indoor activities available, plus for the hearty ones who were interested, we had a big game of rain volleyball going on.  After lunch the moisture continued, so we played a movie in the Rec Hall.  And as the evening approached, and the wet weather continued, we made the call to have an indoor campfire for the evening.

Although we strongly prefer having our campfires outdoors, the Rec Hall is actually a nice substitute.  It is a tall and large building with pretty knotty-pine paneling all the way around and on the ceiling.  And there is a field stone fireplace that goes up the full height of the wall.  We all fit comfortably in there.  The acoustics are not suited for a concert or anything, but they’re just fine for singing and story telling, and even some casual guitar music.  We engaged in all of those things, and it was  a truly wonderful night.  We also had our first Keylog Ceremony of the session, and the vibe from that was very positive.  Several people noted that we no longer had old campers and new campers at camp….just campers.  You could feel the friendship in the room, and it was a great evening.  As we were finishing up, the dew let up, and we could see some stars peeking through the cloud cover.

Saturday turned out to be a mostly dry day, though the clouds were pretty thick.  The morning went off without a hitch.  As rest period was ending, some more dew arrived, but it was light and didn’t last.  So we delayed the start of afternoon activities about 15 minutes, and then got back to it.  The rest of the afternoon was unaffected, as was the evening.  The program Saturday night was All-Camp Clue, and that was a hoot!  There had been a murder in camp, which is a bummer, but the boys were able to sleuth it out, figure out who did it and where and why, and as it turned out, the murder victim was just fine.  The staff go all out on their characters for this, and that made it a lot of fun for the kids.

Yesterday was our first Lazy Breakfast of the summer and it was mellow!  Goes against all expectations.  Usually the novelty of it drives a lot of kids to be there when we first open up, but it wasn’t that busy.  The pace remained steady all morning long and we just cruised right through it.  We do have some real veterans helping us out with it, which is a big plus.  We also had some first-year campers in the kitchen helping, and they did a great job.  We had a normal day of activities, and a beautiful day too.  Blue sky, mid 70s!  The afternoon free period was cut short so we could prepare for evening program, which was Casino Night!

Casino night is an all-time favorite EP.  We convert the Central Area of camp into an outdoor casino, with blackjack tables, poker tables, a human slot machine, War tables, Roulette, Bingo and other games of chance.  Each cabin splits a pot of camp cash, and the boys gamble away.  They win some, they lose some.  Some kids had never gambled before, but that’s fine since we run an educational casino.  Just chalk it up to more life skills being taught at camp.  When it was all over, the groups counted their proceeds and were able to bid on fun prizes for the cabin.  Those include an extra ski run, a movie in the Rec Hall, milk and cookies served by Leslie, and other great rewards.

And now it’s today, though it’s very hard to tell what part of today it actually is.  Coming up we have some big events, including Karaoke Night, our Legacy Campfire, and a trip to town to watch the Min-Aqua Bats Waterski Show, the oldest amateur waterski show in the country!


  • The day after tomorrow marks the start of our 5th Series of Activities.  If your son was on a trip when we signed up for the new series, he will sign up as soon as he gets back, and we’ll post his activity selection.
  • At the end of this week, you will receive an email from your son’s counseling team giving you a quick update on how things are going for him so far.  This is our first attempt at doing this via email, so we hope it works!
  • It won’t be long and we’ll be sending you information about your son’s departure from camp.  We send that information to you via email.


  • Porcupine Mountains, MI – 3 days backpacking (departed today!)
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN – 6 days lake canoeing (departed today!)
  • Namekagon/St. Croix Rivers, WI – 3 days river canoeing
  • Flambeau River, WI – 3 days river canoeing

That’s it for now.  We’ll write again soon!

Benches up,

Mike & Leslie