I have often thought about why I want to set up and run a summer camp.  I have thought often and long about that.

 When I went to summer camp as a kid I thought the counselors must have descended from Mount Olympus.  They knew honest-to-Pete everything.

They knew how to tie knots I hadn’t even heard of.  On the rifle range they could shoot the crutch out from under the grasshopper standing on the left side of the target without even rustling the antenna of the grasshopper shining the first one’s shoes.  These guys could use a rock to knap a chunk of flint into a perfectly lethal arrowhead on a piece of leather on their knee. And maybe, just maybe, Robin Hood or William Tell could shoot a bow better.  But I’m still not too sure about that.  They could navigate unerringly through the wilds of North Texas with a compass.  If they wanted to show off a little they would put their compass in their pocket and take their watches out (remember watches with hands?), put it on the ground with a stick aligned along the hour hand, and half a hour later – after we’d all caught our breath – point out north.  Dead north.

They could cook.  They could sew a pair of moccasins.  The guys at the pool all made bikini swimsuits by stitching pairs of uniform neckerchiefs together at the point and tying them around their waists.  We were scandalized, and feverishly pestered them to show us how they did it.

Tanned as fine Corinthian leather.  Sun-bleached hair.  Babe-magnets on Campfire Nights.

My one goal in life was to be a summer camp counselor.

The summer after my first college midshipman cruise (Norway, England, Belgium, France), I came back and got to be a summer camp counselor.  I worked in the office.  I didn’t get to swagger in front of the campers . . . or their big sisters.  I had to arbitrate between the ladies in the kitchen about whether to put one or two tablespoons of butter in the mashed potatoes.  (That’s true.)  But I had total access to the rifle range on the weekends.  And the archery range.  And cantaloupes with ice cream on the weekends.  And I got to drive the camp jeeps (loaned to us by the Army helicopter base at Fort Wolters).  And Life was sweet.  And Life was Good.

Then I enlisted in the Navy, finished the university on the GI Bill, got a succession of jobs, and ended up as a schoolteacher (which I LOVE doing, by the way).

The whole time, forty-nine years – so near half a century as makes no never-mind – I have remembered the glories of summer camp.

I have written and rewritten curriculum for summer camp.

I have devised and revised menus for summer camp.

I have mapped and traced and retraced road trips for summer camp.

I have collected and edited designs for summer camp shirts.

I have collected and discarded songs for summer camp campfires.

I have walked several thousand acres of lands in a half dozen states for sale as potential summer camp sites.

I have taken summer camp course-director training courses.  I have the certificates to prove it.

I have taken trainings for summer camp first aid personnel.

Well.  It’s time.  I have put this step off for a myriad of reasons that made sense at the time.

Nobody will want to send their kids to Missouri; it’s too far away.  (Six or seven hours.)  People will want their kids to sleep in cabins.  (Whoa; whoa now.  I never slept in a cabin.  Besides we have Blackfoot tribe pattern tipis.  On platforms, out of the grass!)

I don’t have a kitchen built out yet.  Excuse me.  People pay a ton for outdoor kitchens in their back yards.  And I have eaten extremely well from a grill and a fire, thank you.  We don’t have a dining hall yet.  Uh, we have a dining fly.  And we even have mesh walls.

So.

Ask me about summer camp at WindWalkerCamp.  What do we do there?  Why go there?

We make real-world stuff with our own hands.  Rockets, robots, boxes, trunks, vests, pewter tableware.  We learn table manners and social skills.  We compete in teams to master skills (tracking feral watermelons by compass in moonlight)(sometimes during the watermelon mating season, when the cow-melons are bearing young, we track the every wily chocolate- peppermint ice cream – these can turn and rend you in the length of a tablespoon).  We launch rockets we’ve built . . . and bring them home.  We canoe on the three rivers near the Camp.  We have a good time.  We read around the campfire.  We have designated times to write postcards home (not emails).

We are scouting a site for a chapel where we can reflect on things we can’t see.

All in the wilds of Outer Missouri.

Go the our website: http://www.windwalkercamp.com to check out dates and fees and available discounts.
Thanks for reading.

I got to orating.  I’ll talk about table manners and haiku another night.

What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.

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