Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

33 ‘Harg Hustlers’ camped on local farm

One August morning in 1950, 33 clean and happy youngsters arrived at the Maurice Stice farm on Route WW, happy and ready for the next event of our local camp. They were shiny-clean and combed because the first event of the day was a swim at Columbia’s first outdoor swimming pool, and were happy because they’d be doing fun things together for three and a half days. I gave a loud blast on my brass referee’s whistle and "wound" my hand overhead as if to throw a lasso, saying, "When you hear and see me do this, that’s the signal to all come together where I’m standing." When you hear two blasts, "That is the signal for changing to the next scheduled activity. The schedule is on a card tacked to the craft table." I then said, "Now, put up both hands high so I’ll know you are listening."

When all hands were up and kids were listening, I said, "Three loud, sharp blasts," and I blew three really big ones, "means ‘Everybody stop, look and listen!’ " That would be used in case of destruction, deliberate unacceptable behavior or danger. That signal was never needed even though we allowed campers a great deal of freedom.

With a few other announcements they were assigned chores and stations at a table, on the waterfront, at the ball diamond, etc., with adult helpers at each area. My place was always at the waterfront, as I was the only lifeguard. I demonstrated boating and canoeing skills to each group before they went out from shore. We began by practicing safe ways of entering and leaving a canoe or boat from the dock and at the beach. Then we learned to exchange places safely without standing up. The only time campers were in the lake was when we purposely swamped a craft and got back in to prove that it would float even while filled with water. Then we paddled to safety by using our hands.

Nobody had to signal the hungry campers when mothers arrived with lunch; they came running when they heard the cars. The food committee handled the details of the menu, serving and supervising the campers with the cleanup.

We held a show in the late afternoon of our last full day of camp. Newspaper photographers captured the spirit of our happy campers. Older campers swamped the canoe and hand-paddled to safety. All sang and some exhibited their completed craft projects, including construction paper "ribbons" to be given to outstanding campers. They also played the final game of the softball competition,

On half day next, most kids brought bed rolls and flashlights, as we were to sleep overnight on the floor in Stice’s upstairs screened porch. We enjoyed a wiener roast for supper and sang around the campfire until after dark. Then we walked to the house in a group by flashlight, and Frances and Maurice Stice welcomed us. We sang for them and then I said, "Campers, we want the Stices to be glad we came so follow me quietly upstairs to the porch where we’ll sleep." They were angels. I slept in the middle of a long row of tired campers with all of our feet pointing toward the lake. The girls, on my left, used the bathroom for one guest bedroom, and boys, on my right, used the bathroom for the other guest room, Frances and Maurice were pleased with the behavior of the gang and invited us to repeat the camp the following year.

We did, in spite of the fact that my nursing baby was less than four months old!


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