I wish I were at camp right now, it’s the last Sunday of the season, so I went to see the opening ceremonies. I got there about 20 minutes early, so I walked through Casady Ridge and over to the Handi Craft area, a spot where I could see the pool, and the entrance to the ampitheater, without beign seen. I feared that if they saw me, they would make me leave.
I waited as the scouts gathered by the pool awaiting instructions as to what to do next. I listened as Jed, and Ben yelled out a stupid skit, one we had done, and one we had seen many times before by the two of them. It’s one of thier best works. I sat in Handicraft, listening, laughing, thinking. Thinking about why I loved Scouts so much, thinking about why this camp draws me to it, why it hurts so bad inside, when I can’t be there.
They ended the skit, and everyone laughed, I knew why I loved scouting so much, I love it because I see all those scouts, everyone of them looks up to you as a staff member, everyone of them listens to you, and laughs at your jokes. They all learn something from you, something that they’ll pass on later in their lives, hopefully to thier sons, and to other people.
Jed gives the instructions, and they start walking, the parade of green and brown. Such dule colors, but they mean so much to me. Green and Brown, it went on and on as all 500 Scouts, Scouters and Staff paraded into the ampitheater, I watched from where I was thinking about all the times that I had been in that line, wondering what stupid skits, inspiring words, and fun times were in store for me when I arrived at the ampitheater. I watched as they all went by, thinking about the times that I had led that line, and all those scouts, that would have followed me anywhere. I wished I was in that line again.
I waited tell the last scouts had disappeared from my site, before I left my hiding spot, as I started to walk towards the Ampitheater entrance… As I walked I passed the Chaplins cabin, I got a few feet past it when I heard the front door slam, as I turned around I saw Peg. I said “Hi” and she replied, “Hi, how are you.” We talked on the way to the ampitheater, she didn’t know who I was, or why I was at camp, but she made friendly converstaion. Just the way that scouts do.
I entered the Ampitheater and stopped in the back, they were introducing the staff members. One of the funniest times there are in the opening ceremonies. As Chris yelled out each staff members name, they would run up to the front, and say something funny about thier area.
After that they did some skits, the same skits I’ve seen millions of times before on that stage. The same skits, just different people. A different time.
After the skits were over, the lights dimmed and Chris took the stage once more. He told his normal story, his story about the Eagle, his story about camp. He told everyone to have a great time here, and then asked Smokey to come to the stage.
Smokey’s the ranger, and every campfire ends with him. He always has something insparational to say, and something that makes you think. This year was no different. He told the story of how 80 years ago the camp’s property was sold to raise kids. Kids of the 2 legged kind and not the 4 leggedn kind. He told of how years before that, 4 native american tribes had once traded on these hills about the river. He told of how tonight would be the only night that this same group of scouts and scouters would be in the camp ever again. How before us have come many thousands of campers, and how after us, there will be many thousands more.
He spoke in his deep voice, of how Uncle Bade had done so much to help the camp, and how each and every camper can do so much more. He added ashes to the fire, to represent the many that had been on these hills before us, and of the many that will be there after us. He added ashes to the fire to represtent the many other scouters around the world, doing the same thing this Sunday evening. He added ashes from other fires that people in our council have been to, from campfires in England to Africa, to campfires 5 years ago at our 75th aniverasary.
He ended with adding ashes for the group that was there tonight. And told of how friday, he will remove ashes, so that they may be taken to other camps around the globe to be added to thier campfires.
He called the staff to the stage and they sung the Camp Hymn. I had held back my tears tell then, but I couldn’t anymore. That songs just hits me in the right spot, that everytime I hear it, I cry, and I think about all the great times I’ve had at camp. The week is started with the Camp Hymn and the week is Ended with the Camp Hymn…. On the hills above the river, in amoungst the trees, flows the flag of Camp Mitigwa, waving in the brease.
They went into thier next song, Taps, as the staff sung it, it was echoed back in the valley by a trumpet, it’s such a beutiful thing to see. Such a great thing to hear. I cried again as I remebered all the times that I had heard that song before, and that same trumpet echo it in the valley, above the river, in amoungst the trees. I remember the times that I had been on that stage, singing that song. Making sure we were in time with the trumpet.
I left as to get out of there before the scouts caught up to me. As I lef that wooded ampitheater I could see the cresent moon peaking through the trees, I looked up and saw bats flying above, and I walked in silence, without a flash light as I had done so many many times before after campfire was over. I rarely ever carried a flashlight, as I knew camp like the back of my hand. As I exited the woods and into the open field, the moon lite everything up and I could see the pool in the distance, the staff cabins on my right and the dining hall on my left. I remembered all the times that I had walked this trail, with my friends, my co-workers, my boss, my boy-friend. I remembered all the things that I had seen happen on this trial, from the pouring rain and kids playing in the puddles, to the time when it was so dry there were cracks so big you could loose a leg in them. I remembered and I cried. I stopped in Scout Craft, where I worked last year, and remembered the times I taught there, and the times that I had once taken classes there.
I walked to my car crying and thinking. I want to go back to camp. I want to be a scouter again. I wish that I could be.