Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sardine Sandwiches and the Music of the Ainur

This past summer, my son Lafe directed Camp Cherry Valley and did a wonderful job; this in spite of enormous challenges. It is a fact that one cannot be jealous of one’s children, for one can expropriate all their accomplishments. This past weekend we were moving Lafe and his family toward their new home in Provo where he is involved in a PHD program at BYU. As we worked, our conversation naturally turned to camp directing. He told me that a running joke at Cherry Valley was that while with me the “please is always implied”, with him, “it is the command that is implied”.

Lafe described taking his crew out on Lion’s Head and telling to them about Aslan’s music; how Lewis’ lion king had made the music of the universe and thus set in motion the creation of the world. Lafe told his crew that this summer he had a tune in his heart and how their work together would make it real. I am more of a Tolkien fan, I think of the Music of the Ainur, by which Iluvatar created the world from music, first outlining it in his own thoughts, then allowing the Valar to perform it, until at last it became the world in fact. I have long maintained that a Summer Camp must exist in the mind of its Director, and that it will be a success based on, how true the vision of its Camp Director is and how capably the staff performs in making the dream of their Director into the world in fact.

Now to sardine sandwiches. I am not a great musician, and it is not in the composition of music I see the image of my efforts. I like sardine sandwiches. My Scout Master, Vern Spence, made them for us when we were kids, and so hungry that we would have eaten anything, and so happy that anything associated with our joy was made wonderful. I like the ones packed in ketchup, and although I admit they do not travel well, and that even I like to shield the bread from too much juice with leaves of lettuce; in the world of sandwiches there is nothing to compare with one made of sardines.

When I came to a position that allowed me to pick food for my employees, I made, and made them eat, sardine sandwiches. The picture above, taken in 1983, shows Dave Kirkham’s feelings about the opportunity, but surely this was before he ate one. I had brought the Treasure Mountain Staff for a visit to Loll and perhaps you can see how much I enjoyed giving my crew the chance to taste my youth. For years afterward, I provided sardine sandwiches and Camp Loll to all I could. They became a mandatory part of every road trip schedule, and although Doug Hopper was known to buy peanut butter and jam at Flag Ranch, I will always believe that those who gave the sardines a try were glad of the experience. I did not relent in providing them for many years; in fact, it was expense and convenience that led me to abandon my determination to foist my childhood pleasures on all I love.

When I was a boy, I also dined on a delicious concoction of scout camp activities. I have held the memory of that feast close to my heart these many years. I would not abandon the pleasures they promise to those I love for any cost or for any convenience. Folks who have never tasted my recipe might balk at trying it, but I have found that those who take a taste find it most delicious.


Cindy said...

I was just telling Rose about eating your sardine sandwiches. And that I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed them. Doug would still prefer Peanut Butter.

Lysis said...


I am glad you enjoyed the sardines; tell Doug it is a good thing to enjoy both. Thank you both for sharing both your sons with Loll this summer. I hope they enjoyed our time together half as much as I did.

Reach Upward said...

I enjoy both Tolkien and Lewis, although, Lewis' Narnia tales were written for children and Tolkien's fantasies were aimed at a somewhat more mature audience. I find Lewis' book Mere Christianity a true gem.

Interestingly, Tolkien and Lewis were friends and colleagues. Tolkien was quite instrumental in Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity.