Living up in Headquarters of Camp Leelanau there is a lot to be grateful for; and this week was no exception! Being on top of the hill and pushing paperwork, it is not often that I get to interact with every section of the boy’s camp, but this week I was given the golden opportunity to play with the Early Bird, the Backwoodsman, and the Pioneer sections of Camp Leelanau.
My trusty co-counselor, Paul Olsen, rode the Big Blue Bus into a nearby property with 24 men from the North and South teams to be a part of the mighty Senior Flag Trip. And mighty it was. Cabin counselors Joey Goeb and Wiley Sinkus left camp to join the Trips counselors to lead these men into a week of spiritual and physical progression. I was given the privilege to visit the two Flag sites with my camera, and saw Henry Ryan cook up some tasty steaks, Chris Klusmeyer speed through the flag circle in attempt to grab a flag for his team, and CT Andrew Moulton defend his flag from the mighty Eric Olsen. I could feel the boom from across the flag-circle as Andrew embraced Eric’s mighty blow and then helped him up.
The other senior boys who did not attend the Flag Trip ended up attending a trip of their own, which brought them hiking to the Jordan River Pathways, canoeing on the mighty Sturgeon River, and finally to the Wolverine Camps of northern Michigan for some initiative action in the woods that included wall climbing and zip-lining down a fifty-foot cord. Everyone who was a part of the trip agreed: fun, a successful trip to the woods and the river.
Nobody was left out of this week’s action. Back at camp I hiked to Leelanau’s back property to help them prepare their first dinner in the woods. While walking into the Superman site a crowd of Batman boys zipped past me, hauling towards their opponents flag. After an hour of play the boys settled in the back-meadow, some of them eating down-south Jambalaya for their first time – nothing like backwoods cooking! They collected around the fire, took some advice from the counselors to improve their game, toasted some s’mores and headed back for another hour of night-playing.
Now I was never an Early Bird counselor my first few years as staff, but with both the Backwoodsman and the Pioneers out on Flag Trips, I had the opportunity to step in and hang with fellow counselor Steve Creighton for a day with the Early Birds to ourselves. What a blast we had together! The night before we headed to the beautiful and historical town of Glen Haven to visit an old Blacksmith barn to learn some history of the area; we then toured the Maritime Museum and learned about the U.S. Life Saving Service that rescued boats along the shore before the creation of the U.S. Coast guard.
The next morning we woke up a bit early so we could watch the sun rise over Glen Lake. We loaded the nine Early Birds onto a pair of motor boats and read the week’s Bible Lesson in the middle of the calm and serene waters. We couldn’t resist taking a ride across the lake for a morning dip in the crystal blue and warm waters. The boys settled back into a park of Glen Arbor for a quick breakfast. The rest of the day was spent climbing and jumping the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and playing the first ever Early Bird water polo at the shallows of Glen Lake. Grayson Timoner got right into the spirit and scored a point for his team in the first 30 seconds of the game. Counselors joined in and made an evening out of it before heading back to camp for Wednesday evening church.
The week can be summed up with Saturday morning’s activity: Clark woke up the boys and had them cheering one another on during morning exercises on the soccer field. When they finally settled down Clark gathered the entire camp – every boy back from every trip – on the field to take a knee in front of him. The golden morning sun warmed the cool and dewy field as Clark asked campers: “What makes this the uncommon camp?” Hands flew in the air and the answers started to churn, “We do everything with a sense of Love, we embrace brotherhood, we do our best, we do not give up, we have a spiritual backbone.” These are surely the qualities that make the men of Leelanau true men.