Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas Comes but Twice a Year

Christmas is full of many traditions. Years ago, Hal Johnston, my Nature Director and later the Program Director when I was a boy working at Bartlett, told how his favorite Camp Director, Bill Price had held Christmas in July at Loll. In 1977 Craig Edwards and I restarted that tradition and ever since, for those I love, Christmas has come twice a year.

Some activities are new – they needed electricity, others are as old as Christmas. Here at Loll, every one draws a name and prepares a gift for a fellow staff member. I find the amount of time and materials devoted to Christmas gift preparation a bit excessive, and have issued an official “bah humbug”, but with only limited effect. I had wanted to hold Christmas on Saturday, conveniently the 25th of July this year, but was told that the day was needed for the “elves” to complete their tasks. Thus, Saturday became Christmas Eve. We decked the hall and that evening watched “It's a Wonderful Life” together. I was surprised, and somewhat pleased, that only about half of the staff had ever seen it. It is a December Christmas tradition with us at Conner House, but apparently not everywhere. We sang Christmas Carols at meals all day and in Church on Sunday. Our Chaplin who usually plays the sound track from Lord of the Rings for our meeting prelude, filled the woods with Christmas music for us Sunday morning above the Lake of the Woods. We sang Silent Night to close our service.

That evening we had the Christmas feast: turkey, potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. We had many welcome guests. Then we gathered for gift giving. All sat in a circle around the edge of the lodge and opened their presents, then we went around and did show and tell. The Santa's gift bags; full of treats, cheap toys, and colorful bandanas; were handed round to every one. We then had our “staff meeting” and then I told the Emperor and the Nightingale. This might seem an odd Christmas tradition, but when I was a boy, in Alaska, one of the two TV stations broadcast a puppet show of it every Christmas at midnight. So it is Christmas to me. Joey Langford, our Mandarin speaker, said I have a very good Chinese accent. Then Dan Mauchley, our Chaplin, read the Christmas Story from St. Luke and we sang “Silent Night” once again. Another Christmas in July had played out according to tradition.

The Staff await the exchange of gifts below the the Christmas
tree. Don't worry, it was dead fall.

Two elves, a matched set.

One tradition I could do with out is the pink frosting on the
nose while we sing "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer".

Kissing under the mistletoe.

Of course Mom and Dad have the most joy at Christmas.
The Gifts

People are the best gifts.

An appropriate present for the Director
of the Waterfront.

What a beautiful family.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Rain No Rainbows

It had been a frustrating morning. I had to chase down a pickup with a load of In Camp High Adventure kids in the back. They were eager to get to the Union Falls trail head and frustrated in waiting for the other groups and their vehicles. Parking is always a problem here at Loll, the parking lot ½ a mile away, up a steep hill. I returned to my office to find a homesick scout and his leader wanting to use the phone. Many tears and frustrations later, I pried the phone from his snot covered hands and sent him back to camp so I could deal with the next homesick scout wanting to call and go home; and listened to his weeping and whining to his mother. I was wondering if the Spartins didn't have something to teach us. The staff straggled in to breakfast so I scolded them, and the weather report for rain.

Yesterday it started raining in the middle of merit badge orientation sessions. I had already walked the camp with Leonard and had thought to have a few minutes to myself in the lodge. But whenever it rains I visit the troops; so I put on my boots, raincoat, and got out my umbrella. I was tired of the rain, frustrated with the challenges it presents our campers, especially on opening day. As I walked the trail past camp Yakutat the sun came out. Golden light shown on each rain drop and the forest was bathed in light and gold. By the time I reached the landing there was an amazing rainbow rising out of the lake. At first the end of is seemed to rest on the landing itself. As I approached, the great arch of colors flitted out to the red buoy, the other end resting on the blue catamaran. I tried to see the pot of gold on the trampoline. I could see the waterfront staff on the dock painted by the colors of the rainbow. If I had not taken that grudging hike, gone out to do my job, I would not have seen such beauty. I ran back to the lodge and had Janice and others come out to see it through the trees. Sharing it made it even more wonderful.

After breakfast this morning, I walked the camp again. At Puma I spoke with the scout leaders from Troop 293, sponsored by St. James Parish in Ogden. When I was a professional scout I worked with St. James, where the scoutmaster was Mr. Remkes. He told me how as a boy he had been a Boy Scout in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. It was a capital offense to be a Boy Scout under the Nazis, but his troop met secretly every week until liberation. I guess rain isn't much of a challenge compared to the Nazis. In another camp I got a hug from Tim Moser, a former staff member, up here with his troop. At Cheyenne the troop, some of whom were my former students from Layton High, lined up and saluted me. So many colors, so much sunshine, so many good things that would not have come without the rain.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our 6th Week - Can You Believe it?

Staff Photo 2009

Yellowstone Lake - We have a beach.

Reagan on the beach at Lake.

Charlie too.

At the Dragon's Mouth.

A bigger buffalo!

At the Lower Falls

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The Ormes at Canyon.

Lauren at Old Faithful. Lauren is the one up

My Marine Corps

In a Knotty Place.

Che Che passes to the new generation.

At the Chief's fire.

Come and wrestle with Modoman.

Joey and Ben blowing, Mike on look out.


Woods Women, foreign and domestic.

A friendly mermaid.

Dallin gets into the role of Polar Bear.

On the way to a mauling.

All the way!

He un-tripped.

The Rock Jock tries a new entrence.

"I am the man!"

Happy Highlanders.

Unhappy Highlander.

The Buck Stops Here!

What headlights?

Busy Day at the Waterfront