Never a Dull Moment

Friday, June 28th, 2024

RAINBOW THEATER circa 10:00am—The heat of day patiently waits for our breakfast to digest as we sit in the Theater for the daily Morning Reading. Counselors walk quietly through the audience dolling out sunscreen or braiding hair. Wavy Gravy is our usual morning reader, though today he and his wife Jahanara are enjoying a well-earned weekend off in the Bay Area. Filling some very large clown shoes in Wavy’s place today is Juggling Instructor Jono Finger. He edifies the crowd with Wikipedia “this day in history” facts, notable birthdays and an ode by Pablo Neruda, “Ode to the Plate”. The Rainbow Theater is surrounded by a ring of 15 towering tipis, which themselves are dwarfed by a ring of massive oak trees. Bird and cricket song fills the sonic background.

“Does anybody know Jory John?” asks Jono of the crowd. A few hands go up, including my own.

“He used to go to Camp; he was a song leader,” explains Jono. “Now he’s a famous author, and he wrote this book.”

He holds up a copy of the 2017 children’s book Bad Seed.

“I’m gonna read it but I need your help. Every time I say ‘baaad seeeeed’, you all repeat it. Let’s try!”

“Baaaad seeeeeed,” jeers the crowd.

As Jono reads, I crack open my journal. Last night’s evening program was our Costume Dance Party, where all of camp raids the Costume Barn for crazy outfits and then storms the Big Top for an evening of dancing (For the uninitiated, the Big Top is a large roof with open walls that covers Camp’s carpeted acrobatics area). Earlier today during breakfast I met with several attendees to get a sense of how the function went this time around.

“We did a thing where we dressed up as cheerleaders and bros,” said Juniper, 13 of the U.V. Tipi. “But some of the real-life bros actually dressed up as cheerleaders, and vice versa! We all lost our voices because we were screaming too loud while dabbing.”

“I dressed up as Paul Revere, and Lucas and Darell were my horse,” said Clowning Instructor Adora Webb. “I had some number of lanterns between zero and three, and the British arrived by one of the four elements. People were vibing in the utmost.”

“I try to go for a mix of songs,” said Tech Honcho and last night’s DJ Momo Calfe-Smith. “I played some popular songs and some songs we’ve sang as Camp songs. We covered a wide range of genres, everything from industrial grind-core to literal whale sounds. It was a great first dance of the summer. Everyone had fun.”

“It’s funny how the kids run in and out of the Big Top for each song,” said Jono. “They played some stuff from the 80’s and all the kids evacuated, but the counselors going hard. Then they played some Taylor Swift and the kids all ran back in.”

“People were jumping up and down, dressing up and dancing with their friends,” said James, 10, of the Scarlet Tipi. “I dressed up as a banana. Only the Taylor Swift songs I hated. The rest was good or amazing. Everyone was not making fun of each other but actually complimenting each other’s costumes. Excellent, really, really fun.”

“The dance party was so lit,” said Teen Staff Eloise. “Lit like a candle.”

TIPI CIRCLE circa 7:30pm—The sunset is shooting lovely lasers horizontally across the Tipi Circle, dramatically illuminating people as the pass between tree shadows. Costumed campers are gathered in clumps preparing for their performances. Underneath a nearby bench a gopher pokes its head out from the soil periodically, capturing the adoration of passers by. Tonight is the famed Cabar-Nado (a combination of “cabaret” and “tornado”) which will include acts developed in classes over the week as well as acts of random camper talent.

The emcees for the evening are three versions of Wavy Gravy, pictured below. First, moving right to left, we have your classic hippy icon Wavy, then a literal personification of gravy, and finally the pre-hippy beatnik poet Hugh Nanton Romney (see: Wavy Gravy’s original name). The trio settles in stage right while eager first row campers await the blowing of the conch.

Two young puppeteers approach me brandishing their new creations.

“This is Reeses,” says Mika of the Orange Tipi. “He’s from the planet Candy Land.”

“Mine is called Starburst,” says Mia, also from Orange. “He’s also from Candy Land.”

“My least favorite thing about Camp is the stretching because it makes you have to wait longer to start classes,” divulges Mika. “All I want to do is classes! Classes, classes, classes. I might get tired with 100 classes, but 50 is definitely do-able.”

“I loved a lot of the classes,” agrees Mia. “I really liked stilts. A lot of people from my school are taller than me so it’s nice to be tall for a while. If you like circus, you should definitely come here.”

During the course of our meeting, the sun has been quietly replaced in prominence by a bright stage light. The conch rings out and we all scurry to find our seats in the Theater.

Stay hydrated,

—J. Payseno, Editor