Temperatures dropped this week at camp on Monday. It was one of those days where it’s warmest right at sunrise. Walking down to camp, it didn’t seem too bad at all. Then, each time I walked back out, it was colder and colder. You expect the air to get colder as the night goes on, but not the day. Our bodies aren’t used to that. It’s like the day is going in reverse.
On Wednesday, Corky had a wildlife wrangling incident. Squirrels will get into the ceilings of the cabins from time to time, and Corky got the honor of chasing down our latest in Cabins 15 and 16. I didn’t hear a lot of details from this expedition–just that Corky was chasing the squirrel down for about an hour unsuccessfully. They said it was running through the rafters. I don’t know exactly how Corky was trying to catch the squirrel, but it may be better that way, because I can imagine all wacky ways he could go after one, and it will seem much more like a sitcom. There’s the scenario where Corky hands Jim a pillow case and tells him, “Alright, I’m going to go in there a make a lot of noise. When he comes out the door, you get him in the pillow case. Then we’ll WHACK him, good!” Then, there’s the scenario Corky is running around the cabin with a butterfly net, and ends put catching Travis’ head in it. And, of course, there’s the scene where Corky just goes in with a shotgun, and we end up with a bunch of holes in the roof, and a squirrel puppet staring through the hole, laughing at him in the end.
Corky did not take a gun into Cabins 15 and 16, but he and Travis did go to the hillside this afternoon with firearms to get some mistletoe down. Here in the office, we heard a loud boom, that sounded a little closer than the duck hunting blasts we’ve gotten used to over the past month. Gary, offered comfort, letting us know, “that’s just Corky shooting down mistletoe.” Then we heard another blast. Gary said, “I guess he must have missed the first time.” The blasting continued, and Martha asked, “Do you think I need to go out there and shoot it down for them?” Fortunately, the guys returned with fresh mistletoe. They claimed that they kept hitting the branch, but the darn thing just wouldn’t fall.
Bill has been working on decorating the Conference Center for days for a few groups having Christmas parties and for the staff Christmas party that happened this week. It is a warm, holiday scene, full of greenery, inflatables, candle light, and Bill’s crafts. For the staff Christmas party, everyone brought a dish, and the camp provided roast beef, chicken fingers, rolls and strawberry butter. There was a great mix of casseroles and desserts, and Corky made a roast on his new Big Green Egg that was very tasty. When the staff gathers together for a Chriastmas party, it’s a pretty large gathering. There are around 15-20 permanent staff members, but when their families join them, we have 40-50 people easily. It is very much a family gathering. All us who work together all year in so many different capacities, bringing along husbands, wives, and children to celebrate the season and what we’ve been a part of, together, this year at Lakeshore. We ate, talked, laughed, and Gary gave out gifts to all the children and had a drawing for all the staff.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down in the work you do. It’s not difficult to isolate yourself in your tasks, your problems, your responsibilities. But, on nights like this, you look around the table and see so many faces. So many faces who have shared in your life. You’ve worked together, laughed, cried, struggled, succeeded, quarreled, made up again, and know with each other the wonderful things that happen in a place like this. When you hold these celebrations you’re reminded of just how great a thing it is that you call yourself a part of. That smile you give everyone comes from you know how lucky you are and how proud you are of what you’ve done together.
The next day, Kathy went into Cabin 15 to do some winter cleaning and found the squirrel, dead, in one of the recycling bags. She said it had not been very recent–he was not even stiff yet. Evidently, the squirrel had been seeking out the cabin as a final resting place. Maybe that’s why he was so determined not to let Corky catch him and send him back to the woods. I could think of a lot worse places to spend my last moments than Cabin 15 (though I would not want it to be during the summer when a group of junior high boys have left their wet clothes on the floor to mildew). There is something here that just makes you rest easy. Something that makes you want to spend a little more time with the people you meet there. Something that calls you back to it as long as you live.
Our thoughts, prayers, and grief are with everyone touched by the shooting in Connecticut. May we continue to pray for peace in a time of such pain.