A Day in Triptych

Monday, July 8th, 2024

KITCHEN circa 7:30am—Early mornings at the Camp Kitchen are a hotspot for boardgames, and all the high-pitched yelling required to enjoy them. Now fully awake, but still in my tent, I meditate on the will to rise and join the fray. After a quick pep talk to myself I’m finally up and about, toothbrush in hand. Campers dart this way and that, spurred on by gallons of cocoa like an industrial mischief machine. I, for one, have a different simulating imbibement on my mind: black coffee. My wish is fulfilled by Office Assistant Ginny Zeppa who has already brewed a pot and pours me a quick cup.

The coffee station is at the back of the dining area up a small slope, giving us a broad view of the busy kitchen scene. Suddenly, three campers approach and compliment my Kermit T-shirt. I thank them and quickly take advantage of the organic exchange to suggest a brief blog interview. The topic is anything in particular.

“Stilts and unicycle have been really fun,” says Darwin, 10, of the Gold Tipi. “I’m excited for the Big Show. I’m gonna do puppets and silks (see: Aerials). We saw this one dude with a cup suctioned to his face and that was funny. I don’t know what his deal was, he was just staring into the abyss. Both our counselors are great, nice, fun, helpful—all the things. As we like to say, ‘Snice: smart and nice.'”

“Smart and nice,” repeat the other two campers in eerie unison.

“I didn’t sleep well the first two nights; I think I just missed my bed,” continues Darwin. “But once I got used to it I slept really well.”

“I looked across the tipi at my friend and there was a huge, fuzzy caterpillar on the wall above her,” says Sloane, 10, also from Gold. “I tried to tell her but she just went back to sleep. I love all our counselors. It’s my first sleep-away camp so I got pretty homesick but the counselors helped me out. I also love bugs but some of them are kind of freaky. There’s like an infinite amount of bugs here.”

“They’re always reproducing!” adds Darwin.

“The cloud swing was really fun,” says Isaline, 10, of the Gold Tipi. “The creek is honestly better than the lake. It’s so chill. The biscuits and gravy was my favorite meal so far. Our counselors are really comforting, like if you get homesick. I got it really bad one night and they helped me through it. This is a camp that hippies started, so it’s fun and joyful.”

SOMEWHERE IN CAMP circa 1:30pm—Lunch has come and gone in all of its chicken tender glory, and now begins the vast four-hour stretch of free time. The staggering heat seems to bamboozle my very senses of direction and purpose. I find myself meandering circuitous routes and thinking half-formed thoughts, full of chicken and sweating like a pig.

Some undetermined amount of time passes in this manner until a chance encounter with the Fire Circle hose. Instinctively I blast myself with water directly in my face like a Looney Toon before offering a mist to nearby campers. A few scamper over and brace for chilliness by shutting their eyes, balling their fists and raising their shoulders. After the initial shock they relax and begin to twirl around in the artificial rain. Stashing the hose I continue on the the ping pong zone where I relieve the supervisor in hopes of garnering some goofy camper testimonials. One would-be ping ponger decides an interview will be more entertaining than standing in line.

“I’m having fun with all the classes and free time,” says Caleb, 10, of Scarlet Tipi. “Adora always reads us this book about clowns in the tipi and Mattias started teaching me how to juggle. Both are really nice and helpful. My favorite thing is learning to do new stuff. For the heat I’ve been drinking a lot of water and staying in the shade. I really liked our visit to the labyrinth last week. It helped our tipi bond. At first we were all strangers and now we’re friends.”

“It was funner than I thought it would be,” says Asher, 10, of the Lime Tipi. “When I don’t know what to do, I go to the ping pong table; that’s where the action is. Or I’ll go to the Uni Track if I want a break from all the competition. This is probably the second-best camp I’ve ever been to, after soccer camp.”

Last week during the Tornado of Talent I had the pleasure of playing rhythm on a jazz standard, “Juju” led by camper pianist Judy, who has now appeared on the Grassy Knoll to practice her juggling. I ask her what drew her to a song that vamps on a B natural augmented chord.

“It evokes a very specific disorienting and mystical sensation,” she explains. “And it’s fun to solo over. I basically use a different scale for each of the changes. For example, on the B augmented I play with the whole tone scale starting on B. Then when we move down chromatically I start my whole tone scale from B flat. Then I switch to Lydian Dominant, which if you’re unfamiliar is just Mixolydian with a sharp 4.”

“I really like this Camp, it’s the highlight of my summer,” adds Judy. “But in regards to music theory, I’ve really been trying to break away from complicated chord symbols and get more into a linear understanding of music, such as voice leading and counter point.”

BIG TOP circa 8:30pm—Long 2×10 rafters uphold the sheet metal roof of the Big Top. Two large tents, one at either end, extend the footprint by nearly double. All around the perimeter of the the roof is rolled up a thick tarp wall, ready to be deployed with the loosing of a few slip knots. Broad swaths of carpet duct-taped together create a continuous soft surface for daily acrobatics lessons. Tonight, however, this temple of tumbling is dedicated to the sacred art of boogie-ing down. All afternoon campers have been preparing outfits for the Costume Dance Party, and now they gather in clumps in the Big Top and adjoining Stilt Field to dance, show-off, and commiserate.

“The Macarena,” of all songs, is suddenly playing through the large suspended speaker system. Before I know it, the whole dancing public has arranged itself into a large semi-circle to perform the arm movements in unison. Moments later a conga line has consumed the throng. In to the Big Top they parade, and back out again.”

I wade through the crowd for a minute and snap some costume pictures, but the prospect of gathering any quotations in the middle of the party is completely unfeasible. Away with the pen, I say, and on with the dance!

Stay hydrated,

—J. Payseno, Editor