When I worked at camp days were full of activity but sometimes the sillies would take over and practical jokes would reign. I remember very few mean one and the majority were designed to just have some fun. They ranged from racing down a mountain road 32 miles to grab a pizza, Tommy burger or to get 31 flavours ice cream packed in dry ice to bring back to camp. This would then be trucked around camp late at night to surprise staff with a snack that normally wouldn’t be available. There is nothing like having a dish of ice cream shoved into your sleeping bag to wake you up or bouncing around in the dark in the back of a pickup truck and not being able to see where you are going.
But some took a lot more planning and ingenuity to accomplish. Once while the CITs were out on a backpack trip we hid every last one of the their beds around camp and left a poem behind to find the bed. The one we hid in the abandoned Arts & Crafts bathroom never was rescued. We couldn’t get one of the CITs leader’s beds out of her room so we just took her mattress and padlocked her assortment of freshly washed bras to the bed. It took some creativity to find individual places and compose a poem that had enough info to lead them there but not too much to make it easy.
We had a stencil maker in the camp machine shop and spray paint so things got mysteriously stenciled in staff areas like “Go to hell but take a buddy.”
The camp mascot of Singing Pines was the ladybug and one night Kelly and I took model paints and painted them all over camp. Every table in the Dining Hall got one at the staff place and then we painted them all over. I think the one in the log cabin staff bathroom was my favourite. A line of backpacking Girl Scout ladybugs and the last one stuck on her back with waving feet at the end of the line. It took an act of fortitude to paint in the bifs because they weren’t flush toilets. They were pit toilets that only got emptied once or twice a summer. Basically a can with a toilet seat on it over a pit. You could always tell when a Brownie had been in one at night by the ghostly glow when you walked by late at night. They couldn’t resist looking down into the bifs and someone always dropped their flashlight.
We had a statue of St Francis in a hutch on a hill at Singing Pines and St Frank used to go travelling to people’s beds at night until our last year their and we found out why Frank was there. A counselor had run off the road on a day off AKA 2-4 and been killed and her family had donated it many years before as a memorial. When we found out why it kind of took the fun out of it.
One year the CD asked me to put a scavenger hunt together during Pre-camp so people would learn where everything in camp was. So I made clues in rhyme and gave everyone a map of camp and they had to follow the clues to find prizes. This would have been fun but there were a couple of places in camp that always had rattlesnakes in them at some point during the summer. So I used that in a couple of the rhymes only it had one problem. I seemed to have invoked snakes at the two places I mentioned in the rhymes and the people that were in the groups that got them both found them. One stepped on the one in Ranch and blamed me the rest of the summer. (They weren’t hurt just frightened.) My feeling was I did warn them in the poem if they didn’t believe me and stepped on the rattler that wasn’t my fault. They should have believed me. I do wonder though if they were some sort of invocation or just because those were places that snakes regularly ended up at. The staff certainly thought I had invoked them and told me off for putting them in the poems for the rest of the summer.
A prayer to the morning beings of my neighborhood
Bless me as I go my way this day until the fall of night.
The low tok tok tok greeting of the raven from the top of the transformer
The mocking of the car alarms of a mockingbird
The suicide run of the spring born squirrel across the quiet street
The sleepy ramble of the opossum for shelter from the coming heat
The scolding of the male hummingbird as I cross under him
The buzz of the heavy carpenter bee lumbering to the roses
The trail of the night wandering snail across the walkway
The softness of the spider’s web as it crosses my face as I leave the gate
The farewell of the garden gnomes and cats from the yard
Be with me from early dawn to twilight’s fall
and through the dark of night.