Editor's note: Campers' names have been changed for this post, Maria's has not. Maria is still Maria.
Towards the beginning of St. George's Session I, I meet Cabin Seven outside of Tucker Dining Hall before lunch. Faith is in the midst of explicating all things Boxcar Children to Maria Maguire, her counselor, as Maria corrals the girls in her cabin into a reasonably compressed area. Maria is working actively to get Violet involved and talking to other girls, and I gather that Laela came to camp a little later than the rest of the cabin and is still integrating. Maria has different girls explain what they shared at earlier cabin meetings to Laela to get her caught up. Kai wants to be an inventor, Marie wants to be a teacher.
I introduce myself to the cabin, and explain that I want to write a short blog post about their cabin at lunchtime. The girls are flattered and welcoming, and when the bell rings, I walk with them into Tucker and stand behind a seat at their table, then we say grace and sit.
What follows is the transcript of everything Maria said to her charge of girls over the course of the half-hour between grace and the announcements song.
"I'm going to pour the Gatorade. Alright, so everyone must drink at least one cup of Gatorade to re-hydrate. We don't have enough for everyone on the first round, so some of you will have to wait. Yes, you can have water first, but you will have to drink some Gatorade. Try a little bit. I'll get you your drink in a little bit. Here you go.
Pepperoni's good, too, guys. Would you like cheese or pepperoni? Sure! Laela, would you like cheese or pepperoni? Awesome! Would you like a cheese pizza, David? Apple sauce? Really good. Apple sauce tastes so good with pizza. Oops, sorry about that. You're welcome. Okay, let me get you some water so you can start drinking, but you can try some Gatorade later.
Here's some salad. Remember how you tried green beans yesterday? How about you try some salad, too? Did you know tomatoes prevent cancer? Super good for you. Yeah, it's really good. It's Caesar dressing. Sorry, I poured lettuce on you! That's very considerate of you. Yeah? You're welcome.
Okay, everyone, now Laela just joined us. Now I'm not sure everyone knows everyone's name. Oh, thanks, Madison, but we're going to play a name game. Now, we're going to play a name game. Yes, you can go first. Now, you'll say an animal with the same first letter of your name. Oh, is that too restricting? I like that idea, but this time let's do the same first letter, because then at the end we'll all be able to remember everyone's names.
My name is Maria, and I like Manatees. What's that? Oh, don't touch the pizza unless you're going to take it. Faith likes fish. Laela like lions. Can you think of a different animal that starts with the first letter of your name? Oh, I thought you said Madison Bunny. Okay, so Madison the Monkey. Okay, what's your name? What animal do you like? That starts with a 'K'! Great, Cassidy, can you say that so Faith can you hear you, too? Okay, Marie. Sure, since you asked so nice. Marie likes Mermaids. Good job, Marie."
"Kai? Remember that story we heard with the half-human creature? Yes, the Satyr. It's like a Satyr but this one has a tail, and it lives in the ocean. Did you hear all the names Isabel? You're going to go last, so get ready. Good job, Abby! So, Isabel likes Iguanas! What do I like? Starts with an 'M.' Lives in the sea, kind of like a sea-lion. It's a manatee. Abby, can you explain what a manatee is? What's her name? Can you tell her your animal? A fish! What's her name? You just said it! Can I have one more? Sure. Thank you, David. Laela, L-A-E-L-A, Laela. That's Madison. David's acting it out. Yeah, good job, a monkey! Her name's not Marie. Starts with a 'C'... Starts with a 'C-A'... Cas... Cassidy. What's her name? It's what you said her name was before Cassidy. Good job! Yeah!
Does anyone want more apple sauce? Did everyone have fun during camper free time? Yeah? What'd you do? You played cards? You played with sand? What did you do with the sand? How many have you had? Does anyone else want another slice of pizza? Who wants a second piece of pizza? Who wants a third piece? I saw that rock! It's cool looking!
Who's a member of the clean plate club? Try it; salad is good for you. Good job, Kai, I like the way you tried the salad. You're not going to try it? Just try it. Doesn't that taste healthy? That's a good trick. I used to not like tomatoes, then I started to eat them more, and more and more, and now I do! They just taste so healthy! Do it... Your plate looks so clean! Would everyone please pass me their plates? Wow, so many people are members of the clean plate club! Thank you! Clean plate club!
We'll get our brownies soon. I don't know, it's a surprise. Who wants a brownie, raise your hand. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. What's that? Are you supposed to ever take more than one pill? If you eat a lot? Kai, would you mind passing me that napkin? Thank you so much! Thanks, Kai. Thank you so much. Alrighty, I'll pass them out. Here you go. You're welcome. These are so good! You're welcome. You're welcome. Here you go, Isabel. What'd you say? They are!"
Catherine Belous, the program director, begins the announcement song, bringing lunch to a close. The girls are still learning the song, but they give it the old college try. As each of the counselors gets up to speak, Maria refocuses her campers, which is not easy because the counselors are being genuinely ridiculous as they announce the electives. The announcements end, and Maria walks her cabin up to camp for rest period.
By David Churchman
David Churchman first went to camp at Shrine Mont in 1993, the day after his 8th birthday, and he's been back just about every summer ever since. As a camper, he attended Soccer Camp (now St. Sebastian's), Explorers, and MAD camp, and then went on to work at all of those camps.
He is working to end guitar hegemony at camp, and plays the accordion wherever a camp will let him.
Off the mountain, David resides in San Antonio and works as a middle school math teacher.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.