By Bill McMahon, Co-Director
Every camper and counselor at Moosilauke will tell you that announcement period after the meals is one of the most fun and interesting times at Camp. During this period there are a number of daily happenings that everyone looks forward to, including: camper recaps of recent athletic events and trips; Kenny and others reading sports scores and summarizing key happenings in the news; and announcements concerning upcoming activities, trips, and competitions, during which counselors “sell” their activities with all the gusto and tricks of a late night TV pitchman.
During and after the meals we also have fun traditions and routines that magically self-replicate every year (a sure sign of a great peer culture). For example, there are chants that echo through the dining hall like the “We Will Rock You”/”I’m a Little Teacup” mash up and the clapping and stomping from the song “Rock and Roll Part II” that can be heard at stadiums across the country. The favorite dining hall song by far is “There Was a Crazy Moose” which we are all convinced will be a big hit if recent counselor Josh ever gets around to recording it. Another tradition has the entire camp yelling “happy dance” to whoever reads the evening program. That person then has to do a little jig. The evening program is also usually prefaced by a joke or a story, although occasionally we will hear everything from a Buddhist parable to a history lesson from Professor K. Miller.
Over the years we have also introduced different themed segments that campers and counselors will run with over the course of the summer. One such segment is “Trick of the Day,” presented by Todd, which has included one arm pull ups off a beam in the dining hall, completing a Rubiks Cube in under 30 seconds, reciting the alphabet backwards, making drinking cups magically jump and nest into each other, and reciting all the presidents of the United States in order. Another segment is “Brush with Nature” where the Camp has heard about a lost ostrich on the interstate, beavers in our outlet, shark encounters, bears across the lake, and a baby deer popping out from under my dock and giving me quite a stir. Another favorite segment is “Get to Know Your Counselors” during which I play talk show host and interview staff. During the first interview of summer 2015, we heard from a counselor who had lived in Guinea (while in the Peace Corps) and had eaten snake soup. Maybe the most popular segment is Todd’s “Brother, Not Brother” which I will leave to the imagination.
One of the most time honored dining hall tradition involves how we celebrate camper and staff birthdays. After dinner the birthday person comes center stage in the dining hall and selects a group of campers and staff to circle him and lead the Camp in singing “Happy Birthday,” all while a cake with candles is paraded out from the back of the kitchen.
Finally, in my mind the post meal activity that best captures the spirit and warmth of the Moosilauke community is when someone” gives a B.T.C.O.D.” This is an almost daily occurrence where a camper or counselor stands in the dining hall and formally thanks someone for going “beyond the call of duty.” In other words, for doing something especially nice.
All the activities listed above, especially those that involve campers voluntarily getting up and talking in front of the 200+ campers and staff in the dining hall, are all part of the positive risk taking and development of community that are at the heart of the Moosilauke experience.