August 5, 2019

Hillbilly Hoedown

Today was one of those rare days where the temperature is just right: not too hot, not too cold. The sun shone down on Tepee Lake and there was a nice steady breeze powering the windsurfers and sailors. Watching the lake it was clear how much our campers have progressed in their skills this summer – juniors successfully tacking upwind and navigating canoes solo showed me that kids are capable of so much when we challenge them and have patience while they fall down and stumble. I’ve often been out in a sailboat with a camper and been tempted to take the tiller because it would be easier and get us in faster, but I have to remind myself of the value of biting my tongue and letting them bumble through and get frustrated until they get the hang of it, because that’s where the learning happens. And it pays off in spades when I see the sparkles of pride in their eyes when it finally clicks for them.

After dinner tonight we were ushered outside for a special surprise skit introducing us to the attendees of the dogpatch county fair, including the beautiful Daisy Mae, her suitor Li’l Abner, and Evil Eye Fliegle, who was trying to steal the recipe for Abner’s mom’s famous Kickapoo Joy Juice, reputed to make anyone who drinks it fall in love. They invited us to their hillbilly hoedown up at Rustic Lounge, but first the girls got to chase the boys (who got a 2 minute head start) and marry whichever one they caught. Our Sadie Hawkins dance is fun for so many reasons: the silly marriage booths (this year booth themes ranged from under the sea themed to zombies), the hayrides on Lou Maintenance’s truck, the Magen Boys dance party, the delicious corn roast… but what really made my night was seeing how inclusive and open-minded our campers and staff alike were. I saw so many same-sex “couples” and groups of friends getting married and dancing together, and it made me equal parts proud of the community we have become and sad that things weren’t that way when I was a camper here so many years ago stressing out about who I would catch for Sadie Hawkins and if they would actually want to dance with me when a slow song came on. Camp dances now are completely different. The awkward hands-on-shoulders/hips and holding each other an arm’s length away is  luckily a thing of the past. Now everyone dances together (staff included) and it’s clear that their main motive is to have fun. The Magen Boys commented to me how different our “vibe” feels than other camps, and when I asked them what about it they said they’ve never seen a camp where so many people were dancing confidently and interacting normally (in a social, non-sexual way) with members of the opposite-sex. They were also blown away by how at the end of the dance so many people stuck around to help them clean up. Just another moment that made me proud to be a member of this amazing community…

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