#TBT: Camp Traditions, Old and New—by Ben Fink
It was Friday night, August 8, 2008. I was nearing the end of my first summer as a counselor at Appel Farm. And we were nearing the end of our last Friday Night Concert of the year…when a group of renegade CITs (and a young Josh P.) took the stage. They were not happy. A camp tradition had been lost. For years and years, no one had sung the Appel Farm Song, and barely anyone even knew it anymore! And so in true Appel Farm style, they did something about it. They took to the stage and taught it to the whole camp:
That was the night I learned the Appel Farm Song. Now, many years later, I’m the guy who teaches it—in fact, I might have taught it to you. Here I am teaching it last summer, with a little help from my friends:
And that, my friends, is the way traditions work. We learn them, we teach them, we pass them down over the years and generations. The Appel Farm Song is an old tradition—somewhere between ten to fifteen years old. The Friday Night Concert is an even older tradition—started by Albert Appel himself.
We’ve got lots of other traditions at camp, too. There are dino nuggets. There’s Sarv’s Psyku, at Camp Carnivals and Fireside Chats throughout the summer. There’s the somewhat-less-than-subtle way we serenade our friends on their birthdays (the joys of having a summer birthday…). There’s the closing ceremony…but I won’t say anything more about that. There’s the “town crier”—the person who yells “Breakfast” and “Majors” and things: before me, there was my old bunk head Jeremy, and before Jeremy there was Sarv. (Sarv was Head of North when I was a camper. Get him to yell “Majors!” for you…you won’t regret it…or forget it!)
Some traditions seem to just happen, without anyone really trying to make the traditions. Take the way that Coldplay seems to show up in music and dance classes every year. (Here are two examples from last summer…)
Other traditions are still new and in-the-making—like the bunk heads’ two-years-running-and-probably-will-become-annual staff concert performance. (Here’s their Pitch Perfect entry from 2013…)
Finally, there are those traditions that—like the Appel Farm Song back in 2008—are on the verge of being forgotten. So in the spirit of that impetuous group of CITs-plus-Josh who got up onstage and brought back our song, I would like to take this opportunity to bring back…Golf Ball!
Golf Ball, for those of you who haven’t been around a while, is Appel Farm’s very own original sport. It was invented here by a counselor and taught to me by a couple of other counselors. It’s basically a combination of golf and baseball…except, in my opinion, much more fun than either one of them! Each team tries to hit a ball (baseball-style) and get it close to a tee located somewhere on camp (golf-style)—just close enough that everyone on the team can lay down end-to-end and make a straight line between the tee and the ball! (Here’s a game from a couple years back, featuring Eli and rather-long-haired me…)
Look fun? Wanna play? Come to camp next summer, and we’ll bring back this camp tradition together!