August 3, 2019

Today dawned chilly on Tepee Lake creating our first iconic August misty morning. Walking to breakfast I smiled at the awed exclamations of Juniors who had never seen this phenomenon before asking their counsellors what happened to the lake. It quickly warmed up though and turned into a hot and sunny day – perfect for the Carnival that camp was transformed into for the afternoon. In classic Arowhon prankster form Joanne frantically announced to the Main Lodge at breakfast that we had to file outside immediately because of a fire in the kitchen, but when we got outside it became clear that the “fire” she thought she had seen was the bright orange hair of a bunch of clowns that had lost their way from their travelling carnival. Because we pride ourselves on our inclusion and open-mindedness we decided to invite them to stay for the day, along with all the fun toys the brought along… everything from bouncy castles to dunk tanks to cotton candy machines to a massive floating inflatable unicorn big enough for an entire cabin to fit on! The whole camp spent a joyous afternoon indulging in sweet treats, slip ‘n sliding into the lake off the sail dock runway, and competing in silly carnival games – a great break from routine and all the hard work we do learning at activities (wink). From a director’s perspective, I was most impressed with how quickly and efficiently the whole camp got cleaned up after the carnival. Campers and staff alike pitched in to pick up schmutz (our word for garbage), return lost items, and carry equipment to where it belongs  – living proof of how much ownership our community takes of our summer home (we hope they will take this value to their off-season homes as well).

But the icing on the cake for me was the campfire we had for evening program. In my 30 years at camp I’ve seen quite a few campfires and this one was really something special. Hosted by characters from Big Mouth (played by Inter and Senior Girls Section Heads Andie and Dani), it featured an inspiring queue of acts, from an Inter Boy’s solo acapella performance to an impressive demonstration of twin psychic connections (as demonstrated by their uncanny ability to catch cheerios thrown by the other in their mouths). The show ended with the presentation of some 10 year jackets, where recipients talk about why they keep coming back to camp. The final speech was a bit different than we normally hear, and I will never forget it. This brave young man stood up in front of the entire camp and told us about how when he was a Senior Boy he said and did some things that he is not proud of. He told us that he had spoken without regard for others’ feelings and used language that was disrespectful and hurtful. He cried as he spoke, for the friends he would never get back. And he told us that the reason he keeps coming back is because camp is the first place that both called him on his behaviour, and also gave him a chance to fix it. He told us that his goal here is to prevent other young men from going down the trap he fell into. And he told us that although he’ll always feel badly about how he acted then, each summer he leaves camp feeling a little more proud of the work he has done and the man he has become. Can you say goosebumps???

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