By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
Early one Thursday, the brightness and warmth of the morning sun seemed brighter and warmer than normal, in contrast to the coolness of the previous evenings mid-summer rain storm.
As I walked toward the pavilion for breakfast, I noticed a commotion at the Panda Ball Pit. A pre-breakfast commotion at the pit isn’t uncommon – besides drinking coffee, is there a better way to wake up in the morning than playing a couple rousing games of Panda Ball?
On this particular morning however, the commotion wasn’t coming from inside the pit, rather, the commotion was coming from the outside. Several cabin groups of campers were gathered around with agonizing looks of sheer disappointment painted on their faces.
These looks had me concerned, so I quickened my pace so I could more hastily discern the best way to remedy those painful looks. As I drew near, the source of the disappointment became clear: the heavy rains from the night before had flooded the Panda Ball Pit. There would be no Panda that morning, and quite-possibly no Panda for the rest of the day.
Camp Gray’s property is akin to a large sandbox. The rains come, and the rains drain. There is little to no flooding at Camp Gray, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that. Why hadn’t the water drained like in rainstorms of yesteryear? Perhaps the early summer pollen, which had turned the water yellow, was thick enough to prevent water from seeping through the sand. Or perhaps digging out the floor so we could lower the Pit in order to create an arena-type atmosphere hindered its drainability. Regardless, we found ourselves in quite a conundrum.
“Surely the water will drain before noon,” I said to nobody in particular.
“Don’t call me Shirley,” came a response from Jeff.
A few hours later, as campers gathered on and around the basketball court (BBC) for the pre-lunch, half-hour free time, very little drainage had occurred. The disappointment at not being able to play Panda Ball was strong, but stronger was the fear that the drainage would not occur in time for that night’s 26th running of the Camp Gray Cassidy Games.
The Cassidy Games is a week-long competition that involves everyone on main camp. All of Camp is divided into two teams – the Red & the Blue – and throughout the week, teams have multiple opportunities to earn points. On Thursday nights there are various competitions (mini-battles) for the different age groups of campers, and then the Games culminate (culmination!) during the epic Lake Jake Relay Race!
The Panda Ball Pit plays host to perhaps the most exciting mini-battle (you can see a bit of footage here), so a Cassidy Games without Panda Ball would be on the same level as Culver’s not having butter burgers. Exactly. That would be, in the words of a popular character from Camp’s traditional Sunday Night Campfire, “unacceptable.”
As this fear became as thick as the yellow water that just wouldn’t drain, a proclamation came forth from a trailblazer camper standing to my right:
“This is the Day the Cassidy Games Stood Still!”
He was absolutely right. Though, while the Games were indeed standing still at that moment, they didn’t have to remain standing still.
That proclamation, it seemed, became the impetus to inspire dozens of campers, almost at once, to begin digging tunnels under the Pit, in order to aid its drainage. Camper questions came hurling in ten-at-a-time:
“Can we borrow shovels from the Maintenance Shop?
“Are there buckets we can use to bail the water?
“Does Camp have a pump we can use to drain the water?”
“What’s for lunch?” (That question had nothing to do with removing water from the pit, it’s just a common lunch-time question…)
Within a matter of minutes, dozens and dozens of campers, some from the Red and others from the Blue, came together for a common good. They dug like warrior poets, with fervor to free the water from the pit, and they saved the 26th running of the Games.
Teamwork. Sportsmanship. Fair play. Hard work. These are all lessons we hope to instill in campers during competitions like the Cassidy Games.
There once was a day at Camp Gray that these lessons were learned hours before the Games commenced.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your incredible support of Camp Gray!
Certainly you’ve heard: This is CASSIDY GAMES WEEK! We have loads of Cassidy-themed posts/activities planned for this week. Check here for more details!