My Last Visit To Camp This Summer

I spent this past weekend at S-F Scout Ranch again.  Once again, it was an amazing weekend.  Every time I go down there it gets harder and harder to leave.  It makes me sad to think that I will not be back there this year.  What’s more, it is unlikely that I will ever be at S-F again with all of my close friends during the summer/on staff at the same time.  We have had so many good times and I do not want that to end.  Nevertheless, life goes on and I must remember the good times fondly while preparing for the future and maintaining those relationships.

This weekend I went down to camp with Tim Weaver and Ray Kreienkamp again.  The three of us stayed with Paul in his cabin at Family Camp, which has been a good time each weekend we have been at The Ranch.  We helped out with the closing campfire before going to Applebee’s for a bit in Farmington (they had good specials and half price appetizers).

Saturday, I helped as a check-out commissioner and actually “closed” Wenzel campsite for the summer – a.k.a. in addition to making sure the site was clean, ALL equipment had to be off the site, signs down, garbax bag holder removed, etc.  It’s more of a lengthy process but it was a good troop that already had all equipment down when I arrived on the site and they were in a pretty good mood.

After the site was closed, Ed Nahlik (one of the most amusing of my favorite people) came down to drive Famous Eagle’s truck run and asked me to join.  I wasn’t sure, but Ray did and so I figured I may as well.  Ed tapped a tree and backed into the loading dock to make me happy (don’t worry, no damage to the truck).  It’s not a real truck run unless you hit something, like a picnic table.  Let’s just say that Ed did not drive slowly.  It was a lot of fun and when I was standing up in the back of the truck at one point (which of course I should not have been doing), I almost flew over the front of the truck.  Luckily there was no problem.  We did move a good amount of equipment during an extremely hot day and got quite dirty – while listening to music: Ed had his iPod in a milk crate tied with rope to the back of the cab.  Awesome.  I like truck runs.

After lunch, the truck run continued but I went with some other people to Huck’s Cove for the afternoon and then went tubing.  I don’t think that I actually went tubing last year at camp so this was probably my first time in two years.  Both Huck’s Cove and tubing were a lot of fun.  It was really hot and a great day to be on the lake.

Saturday evening, we went to Lambert’s Cafe: Home of Throwed Rolls.  It’s a 1.5-2 hour drive from S-F, but definitely worth it.  Our drive down to Fredericktown and then along Highway 72 to I-55 was certainly an adventure (I was reminded of our English friend Jack Caine getting lost on Highway Z (“Zed”) last year).  There were certainly some sites to see in rural Southern Missouri.  I drove with David and we had some good conversations.  We had a hour and forty five minute wait to eat once we got to Lambert’s, but it is most definitely worth it.  They have amazing food and way too much of it.  I ate maybe 1/3 of my meal.  They are a fantastic place for country/Southern cooking.  I think I have gone to Lambert’s every year I worked on staff, beginning in 2004.

This morning, Ray, Tim, and I went back over to staff row to hang out with people before lunch.  After lunch we sang the pony song and helped with a few odd jobs, before relaxing on row again for a bit.  I had to leave earlier this time to get back in time for a Troop 310 reunion this afternoon (more on that in a future post).  I really wanted to stay longer.

Even with the drama of this summer, it is still possible to see the staff come together and have a good time.  I hope that visits in the future will be just as enjoyable.  Perhaps that 1% likelihood of my return to camp will happen.  While it would be different and strange in many regards (and I’m sure I would be disappointed in other ways because of changes), I know I would still love being at S-F and being a part of the staff one last time before meeting the “real” world.

Many conversations occurred this weekend about who would and who would not be returning to staff next year.  People always say things at the end of the summer, but when decision time comes around, the reality is often different.  I am interested to see what next year’s staff will look like.  I’m sure these will be conversations I will be hearing/joining for a while to come.

I did take pictures at camp this weekend.  I’m too tired to post those now, but expect them online soon and I will link to them from the blog.  I have no pictures of the lake though since I was trying not to destroy my camera. 🙂

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Another Great Weekend

I had a great weekend at camp.  I really do love that place.  I think I might be interested in working again if I had a job lined up early enough with a set start date that would be after the end of camp.  There are quite a few things I still am interested in doing at camp and several traditions (some would say necessary parts of the staff experience) that I would like to bring back.

There was another Dad ‘N’ Lad this weekend and once again, I helped in the aquatics area.  It was a bit different this time though as Camps Famous Eagle and Gamble combined forces for one Dad ‘N’ Lad.  I have not worked at Camp Gamble since 2004 and I now remember how much that beach needs to be improved.  Nevertheless, it was a good time and  loved watching the faces of Scouts who were so happy to be spending time in the water with their dads.  There was one Scout in particular who would get out of the water, walk around the dock, jump in, splash his dad, and repeat – over and over.  He constantly had a smile on his face and would laugh to me the whole time.  I gave him a few ideas and he kept coming over.  He was on top of the world.

Of course, there are always those who do not figure out the system.  My good friend Eric Gill is someone who is not afraid to share what is on his mind.  Every once in a while, we says something pretty amusing.  When Scouts complained about waiting at the buddy board to check in to the aquatics area, he said “This is not McDonald’s Playplace.  We have rules here!”  It was pretty amusing.

I had a great time reminiscing about old camp experiences, stories, songs, etc. with Tim Weaver, Brian Hackworth, and Ray Kreienkamp who were also down at camp with me.  Tim and Brian and I have worked together, beginning in 2004.  Someone said something this weekend that reminded me of one of my favorite stories from my first year:

We were always warned not to speed in camp.  Pat Martchink, Director of Camping and Ranch Director knows the Farmington Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers in the area pretty well.  We were told (by older staff members, it was our first year on staff) that Pat had a radar gun (which he got for free from his police friends, of course) and would hide in the bushes and trees at the entrance of S-F to catch speeders.  Clearly this was not true – but we believed it, at least for a while.  We were also told that if you got a ticket while under contract, that you had better call Pat and let him know asap once it happened – or he would find out first.  That one actually happened a few times.  Ah, the good ole days…

I did not want to leave S-F yesterday evening.  Now that I have spent a few weekends down there, I am getting to know the staff and starting to feel a part of it, even if it is in a minor way.  I think a number of them were actually upset that I was leaving.  I do hope to be able to spend one more weekend down there.  It’s never enough, but at least I am starting to value and treasure the small things that I have previously taken for granted.