American Pie: Time to Eat!
The classic folk song "American Pie" was very important at camp! Every day (and I mean every day) before the start of lunch, "American Pie" is heard across camp to let everyone know to make their way to the dining hall. You learn to love it! And when you find yourself having one of those days where you didn’t eat enough for breakfast, you spend that morning's activities holding out for that sweet melody to play.
Now when I hear that song in the real world, not only does a wave of nostalgia wash over me, but I also feel a strong need to eat something. My stomach tells me it’s hungry because, after all, American Pie means lunchtime.
Reveille: The Wakeup Call
Another important tradition is waking up every morning to a trumpet call titled Reveille. You would think you'd get sick of that trumpet tune abruptly waking you every morning; but you not only get used to it, you also learn to take comfort in it. Then there are the days when Reveille is played at 8:30am instead of 8:15am. It’s only an extra 15 minutes, but you cherish that extra sleep!
The Flag Pole
The flag pole also becomes part of the routine. We line up at the flag pole every morning and evening to watch the raising and lowering of the American flag and it’s one of the greatest traditions at camp. Towanda is a Jewish camp. Although it wasn’t overly religious, we did say a prayer in Hebrew before every meal (which I can now recite like a pro). The little things such as these that make camp the great experience that it is!
Fourth of July
The Fourth of July was also one of my favorite camp traditions. We spent the afternoon down at the lakefront playing beach volleyball, doing Zumba, and watching the spectacular sunset followed by an amazing fireworks show. A true American celebration!
The biggest event of the summer is the Camp Olympics. There is so much hype and build up to the start of Olympics. Before the games begin, lots of silliness and pranks are planned by various teams!
When the games began, the theme was announced: Star Wars. We were on the soccer field during evening activity when Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker came out in the middle of a lightsaber battle. The Olympics music began and a laser-like show danced across the night sky. The teams: the Red Sith Lords and the Blue Jedi Knights. I’m happy to say I was put on the red team, and even though we didn’t win Olympics, I had the greatest team and the greatest last few days of camp.
Days and Nights off
I never expected that my days and nights off would be filled with so much adventure. These were the days that really solidified my relationship with my co-counselors. On our one day off per week, we had a chance to relax and escape from camp for a short while. Trust me, this was completely necessary after spending every moment with the kids for the past six days!
I never had a relaxing day off, but I always made the most of my time off. I did a road trip through the Pocono Mountains and hiked through Bushkill Falls, made the great journey to the Six Flags theme park in New Jersey, partied and relaxed on the beach in Atlantic City, explored the city, and swam under a waterfall in Ithaca. Living only two and a half hours from NYC, I also spent two of my days off in the Big Apple.
Our nights off were our opportunity to leave camp and get “real” food (i.e. greasy fast food from McDonalds or Wendy’s) or to make a quick Walmart run. I almost never stayed at camp when I had a night off. It would be impossible to get an early night sleep anyway so I always went into town with friends so I could refuel and have some quiet time. Sometimes, you just need to get away and have a night off with your co-counselors.
Courtney is a former Australian participant on our Camp USA Program. She worked at Camp Towanda for the summer. She first traveled internationally when she was 14, and since then, has been to New Zealand, back to the USA, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the USA again, the Caribbean, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Malaysia. She has a strong desire to see and experience everything this world has to offer.