By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
From the ‘Untold (until now) Stories’ Folder of the Camp Gray Blog.
I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I climbed into the shotgun seat of “Turk,” Camp’s late 90s model Ford Windstar, and for the first time in my life, I was going to experience a butter burger and a cup of “flavor of the day” frozen custard. For those of you not from Wisconsin or America’s Midwest, a butter burger and a cup of “flavor of the day” are staples of one of the finest burger locales in the country; Culver’s.
It was the Friday night after the conclusion of Session One of Summer Camp back in 2006 – my first summer on staff at Camp Gray – and nearly the entire staff was headed to Culver’s.
Because the state from which I hail – the great state of Oklahoma – has no Culver’s Restaurants (we do have a similar little place called Braum’s though, and believe me, Braum’s is nothing to sneeze at…), I hadn’t even heard of Culver’s before my first Camp Gray adventure.
The reason this memory seems so recent is because I learned something of great significance on that warm Wisconsin summer evening (and no, it wasn’t the slick “the-lines-inside-are-too-long-so-let’s-go-through-the-drive-through-and-then-carry-our-food-inside” move that Mr. Andy Miller taught me – though that was a great lesson in its own right.)
This was the fateful day that I first learned of the Culver’s Scoopie Meal – some people might call it a kids meal, but alas, with a burger, fries, drink, and a complimentary cup or cone of frozen custard – that is a meal that could and does feed grown men. Oh, and if you’re not feeling like a burger, go ahead and substitute that for a corn dog, chicken tenders, or a grilled cheese. Yeah, they’ve pretty much got every angle covered. But get this, here’s the best part: On the exterior of the bag that the Scoopie Meal comes in, there is a small “coupon” or “Scoopie point.” This point looks rather innocent, but save up ten of those bad boys, and you get yourself a free Scoopie Meal.
The saying, “My mind was blown” has never been more accurately used by me to describe anything else ever. The cost of a Scoopie Meal is approximately $5.00 – making the value of each Scoopie point approximately 50 cents. To throw the coupon away is akin to reaching into your pocket and throwing two quarters into the garbage. I know, right, that would just be absurd.
Then and there, my goal was to save up 10 coupons so that I could feel the rush of purchasing a whole meal of food for nothing but 10 specially marked pieces of paper. Unfortunately, at the end of that first summer, I had saved only eight coupons.
At the conclusion of Summer Camp 2006, I headed back to good ole Oklahoma. While initial plans were to work at Camp Gray for one summer, I loved my experience and loved the mission so much, in my head I was already making plans to return for Summer Camp 2007.
When I did return for Summer Camp 2007, I made certain that my eight Scoopie points returned as well.
A funny thing happened early on during that summer once I acquired the requisite 10 Scoopie points; I realized that collecting 10 points was too easy of a task. I wanted something larger, something otherworldly, something that would make folks stop and say, “Good gracious, are you kidding me?” Plus, Ms. Cook, my second grade teacher, always told us that if we didn’t bring snacks or gum for everyone, then we mustn’t eat alone in front of everyone.
Then and there I decided Scoopie points weren’t to be spent until I had enough points to treat the entire Summer Staff – which is approximately 50 people. Carry the two – yup, I needed to save 500 points, which meant I needed to get to work eating lots of Culver’s.
When the Hollywood movie about this Odyssey is made, I imagine there to be a Rocky style montage with “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background – except instead of the montage being filled with training scenes, it’ll be filled with scenes of my friends and me devouring Culver’s Scoopie Meals and then putting the Scoopie points in the large empty Twizzlers container on my shelf (John Krasinski would likely be cast as myself…).
In a remarkably humbling turn of events, friends that heard about my goal of 500 started pitching in their points. It wasn’t uncommon to receive an envelope in the mail with nothing more than a point or two.
Integral to this Odyssey were Mo-T Wilks and former Camp Gray staffers Nicky Kaehler and Lindsay Becher. Weekly trips to Culver’s were common, as was the post-meal gathering of everyone’s Scoopie points.
As one might well imagine, point collection was a slow process, and it wasn’t until this past spring, during my quarterly Scoopie point count, that we landed on the big 5-0-0. Nearly six years after first learning of Scoopie points, and five years after striving to collect 500, the goal had been attained.
During Summer Staff training this past June, after Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Baraboo, we circled our 50-person staff up in the parking lot, and informed them that we weren’t going to be heading back to Camp for lunch as was originally planned. Rather, we were heading to the Baraboo Culver’s to exchange 500 Scoopie points for 50 delicious Scoopie meals. And get this, a new staff member who shall remain nameless, that was standing to my left, exclaimed, “Good gracious, are you kidding me?”
Adding to the epicness of the day was the presence of the Culver’s mascot, “Scoopie.” Terri – Culver’s Asst. Manager – pulled some strings, and was able to get “Scoopie” to come celebrate the big 5-0-0 milestone with us!
Special thanks to Terri for her help in making Culver’s day possible. Also, thanks to everyone that has ever sent a Scoopie point my way. And lastly, thank you for taking the time to read the telling of the fun and ridiculous things that happen at Camp Gray!
And yes, collecting has already begun for Summer Staff 2017. Send those Scoopie points this way!
Those of you that like numbers and analytics – get excited, next week’s Tuesdays with Topher will rock your socks off!
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