Sometimes it seems like we are still a brand new camp, but as each summer passes we continue to write more history and leave a legacy for those who will walk these grounds after us. With the excitement and progression of all of the new additions for this summer, I have found myself thinking a lot about the evolution of camp – where we began and where we are now. It has been quite a journey, and one that I am thankful to have been a part of. God has been faithful to us through the toughest economic crisis that most of us have ever known. He has allowed us to continue pursuing our mission at a time when most start up businesses could not hang on. For that we are thankful, blessed and even challenged to pursue an ever higher standard with this venture He has entrusted to us.
As we head into summer number 8, I am reminiscent of that first summer. Here’s some trivia and pictures for you from “way back when…”
Does anyone know who the very first camper was? Here’s a hint… He still attends camp, so he may have been in a session with you. Here’s a bigger hint (Someone was smart enough to take his photo as he entered the registration line):
On the first night of camp that summer, we started the Tribal Selection tradition that is so deeply ingrained into our camp culture today. The very first tribe members were chosen and we suited up for battle – Multimate Frisbee! One vivid Multimate memory that is forever burned into my brain came on the second opening day of that summer. We had a mid-afternoon rain shower that left us wondering about our opening night tribal competition. With all that went into getting camp open, we didn’t really have a great plan B for that night, so Rambo and I decided to test out the drainage on that brand new field and go ahead and give Multimate a shot. Little did we know how much of a hit this game would be. Round 2 of this game was EPIC… an instant success, with the puddles on the field and wet soggy conditions making it so exciting and intense. Traditions don’t always last forever, but this is one we have definitely continued to cling to and still love to this day. I don’t usually post pictures of myself, but this is my memory from Multimate that first summer. I remember diving to catch this frisbee and sliding through a puddle that I didn’t know was there with water spraying my face like I was on a big waterslide. Apparently, us old people can feel like a kid again too sometimes. It was awesome!! The shot is a little blurry, but you may be able to make out the HUGE grin on my face as I laughed with someone on the sidelines who happened to witness the waterslide effect.
There were so many other great memories from that first year. I remember Flash painting up and leading the Waya tribe in one of my favorite cheers of all time. They called it the Lion King rip-off as all of the Waya gather in a circle and cheer to the tune of the opening song of the Lion King. The Waya came up with the legendary “Sock War Cemetery” cheer that summer as well. The “Awahili Ooh-HA-HA!” was also born that summer and echoed throughout the surrounding hills every night as we lined up for tribal competitions.
I remember many of the games we ran that first summer. Back then we were too small to hire program directors, so Rambo, Corie and I had to come up with everything. Some activities we are very proud of, while others have thankfully been forgotten. We played Battleball, Space Zapper, Super Soccer, Newspaper Party, Battleship, Counselor Hunt, Underground Railroad, and of course Sock War! We also held a pretty cool Variety Show that I personally will never forget. Check out this photo from that night: Do you recognize any of these people?
We had 9 great staff that summer. These guys had no idea what they were getting into, and frankly, we weren’t quite sure about all of the in’s and out’s either. But they were phenomenal. They helped lay the foundation of our camp program, ignited many great traditions and formed a very special bond with each other. Several of those charter staff members are still in touch today and come back to see us or help us every chance they get. There was Smash, Gert, Radar, Rowdy and Pepper working together to make the girls side of camp great, while Flash, Stretch, Peeps and Tiger hit the ground running with the guys. That first summer was a short one, but these guys and girls developed an incredibly tight bond with us as we all worked so hard to put Strong Rock on the map and give the campers that came here the time of their life.
I’m getting a little weepy remembering all of this, so let me close with a few more questions for you. If you want to take a stab at these, just leave a comment for us.
- Where did we hold closing Council Ring that first summer?
- How many weeks of camp did we run in year 1?
- Any guesses as to how many kids showed up that first year?
- What did Flash hide in for counselor hunt?
- Did you know that one of the campers from that summer is going to be on staff this year? Any guesses who?
- Do you know who taught Outdoor Living that first year? (Hint: this was one of the reasons for his camp name)
The summer of 2005 is one I will certainly never forget. Camp has continually improved and grown every year since then, but the beginning will always hold a special place in my heart. What a blessed opportunity we have been given, a huge responsibility of stewardship we have been entrusted with, and a wonderful ministry that we have been allowed to take part in. I pray for many more successful years and countless more life- changing experiences here at camp!!