Greetings Friends,

Thanks for tuning in to the second ever semi-regular Tuesdays with Topher Mailbag!

As always, these are real emails from real readers (only the answers are potentially embellished…).  Enjoy!

Q: Survival Scenario: You’re stuck in the Explorer Village for 5 days with nothing but a bag of jellybeans and dental floss.  How do you survive?
– Anna B., Urbana-Champaign, IL

Aaah, survival scenarios, my favorite!

One of the few things that rivals my unabashed love for candy is my unbridled passion for good dental hygiene (though my passion for dental hygiene doesn’t hold a candle to the love Taylor Eveland has for clean teeth).

My love of candy is so strong that as a child I created a candy pyramid in which I ranked candy from my least favorite (lower in the pyramid) to favorite (the pinnacle of the pyramid).  I’ve yet to find a candy I don’t like, so on my candy pyramid, truly, all are welcome.

Jelly beans rank rather high on my candy pyramid.  Five days in one of my most favorite places at Camp Gray, enjoying one of my favorite snacks?  I’m afraid this survival scenario quickly just turned into more of a “Topher’s Paradise Scenario.”

But wait, how does my love of dental hygiene tie in?  Over the years, I’ve found that my insatiable love of candy has a rather detrimental effect on my teeth.  Apparently sugary sweets attack teeth with more gusto than a Pathfinder boy attacks the short hoop during a rousing game of Lightning.  The only way five days in the Explorer Village turns into a “survival scenario” is if I don’t have the proper tools to keep my pearly whites clean.  Then it is truly a nightmare…

Q: If the Pope and his Popemobile came to Camp Gray, what would you do? (i.e. how would you prepare, setup, what activities would you show him, etc.)
– Matthew Douglas, OKC, OK

If Pope Benedict was the Red Team Chief during the Cassidy Games, is there any doubt which team would win that week?

Thankya, Matt!  Good question.

According to my sources at the Vatican, Pope Benedict is a fan of chocolate and Orange Fanta, and he loves playing the piano.  For dessert during his time we would have only chocolate delicacies.  Also, we would finally get the piano in Helen Hall tuned so he could dazzle us with his piano skills.  At each meal, we would substitute red drank with Orange Fanta.  We would do everything possible to ensure that the Holy Father has an amazing stay at Camp Gray (we’ve been talking about getting a yurt built at Camp for years – maybe this would speed up that process so he could stay there…).

Think about this for a moment: Would the other choices during “choice time” get any campers if we were to offer, ‘Ride the trails of Camp with the Pope in his Popemobile!’?  Besides dodgeball, I doubt it.

Or think about this: If he arrived on a Sunday, and was planning on staying an entire week during Summer Camp – and let’s be honest, once he arrives, there’s no way he’d want to leave early – we could probably talk him into competing in the Cassidy Games as the Red Team Chief.  I’d like the Red Team’s chances that week.

So, put simply Matt, we would have a normal incredibly awesome week of Camp (with more chocolates, Orange Fanta, and piano playing than normal…).  Also, I’m guessing Fr. Tim would be okay with Papa celebrating our Friday Mass that week.

Q: If Camp Gray started making/selling a custom Camp-themed coffee mix, what would it be called and what flavors would it be?
– George, Milwaukee, WI

We love coffee around these parts!

Great question, George! To answer this question, I first poured myself a nice tall cup of coffee.  It tastes delicious.  Do you know what would taste more delicious?  That’s right, coffee grown, harvested, processed, milled, roasted, and ground right here at Camp Gray.

Speaking of coffee, here’s a fun fact for you: During Summer Camp 2012, 5,045 cups of coffee were consumed by the Camp Gray Staff (that’s not an exaggeration, we did the math…).  Think about all of the money Camp Gray would save if all of that coffee was home grown.  That being said, I propose that we name the coffee Holy Grounds Coffee Co. (Okay, shout out to former staffer Renata Kingsbury for that name suggestion.  Holy Grounds.  Brilliant.  See what she did there?)  Of course, we would have various flavors for whatever mood you’re feeling that day and there’d be seasonal flavors, as well.

Who wouldn’t want to start a cold wintery day with a hot cup of “Forest Snow” Holy Grounds Coffee?
[The Forest Snow flavor has a light soft flavor with a rich forest flavor.]

Are you having that 2:30 feeling?  What better pick-me-up than a cup of “Snipe Flavored” Holy Grounds Coffee?
[Made with artificial Snipe flavoring (no Snipes were harmed during the making of this flavor), you’ll feel like you’re back in the woods of Camp searching for the elusive snipe!]

Do you need to get up early to study for your pesky Poli Sci examp?  Go ahead and pour yourself a cup of the special “Cassidy Games Edition” Holy Grounds Coffee.
[With Red and Blue bags, you decide which team will keep you alert and focused during the big test!]

We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting items/products to sell in the Camp Gray Canteen store, George.  This has some potential.  Thanks!

Q: How many trees are on Camp’s property?
– Timmy, Lawrence, KS

Timmy, my good friend, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that determining the exact number of trees at Camp Gray would be a deciduous, er, arduous proposition.  Camp Gray is nestled on 225 acres of diverse tree cover, marsh, waterfront, prairie, etc.  You’d have to be a poor sap to get out and count every tree.  I’m going to propose that I branch out to the next question because I’m knot going to take the time to count every tree.  Sorry if I just board you..

Thanks for writing in all the way from Kansas, though!  The sunshine state… Gorgeous.

Q: What is your opinion on coffee-tea fusions (e.g. a pomegranate oolong chi latte)?  Is it an interesting twist on two hot beverages or is it just too unnatural to put the two together?
-Mariana N., LaCrosse, WI

Thanks for the email, Mariana!  In my opinion, a nice steamy cup of black coffee is as good as it gets.  Don’t fix what’s not broken, right?  Except, there’s this crazy rumor going around that Camp Gray is releasing a “Snipe Flavored” Coffee.  If this is indeed true (and it’s not), then I would suggest a nice coffee-tea fusion of one part “Snipe Flavored” Coffee, 100 parts any-kind-of-tea-available-in-order-to-mask-the-terribleness-of-snipe-flavored-coffee.

Q: What makes the Discovery Pod the “best pod” at Camp Gray?  I want specifics, not just, “Because the leaders of said pod said so!”
– Beth, Lake Delton, WI

Let’s break down what the Discovery Pod entails:

1.  Fire building
2.  Dream Sports
3.  Music

That’s quite the mix of fun activities right there.  If I were a camper (and I like to pretend that I am a camper during Summer Camp weekends…), I would be in Pod heaven with those options.  I love building fires, I love sports, and I love making music.

Also, it’s the best because Discovery Pod has a theme song with lyrics that go like this:

Discovery Pod
Discovery Pod is the best Pod at Camp Gray
Discovery Pod
Discovery Pod is the best Pod at Camp Gray

Rinse and repeat…

You said you wanted specifics, “not just, ‘because the leaders of said pod said so!’”  They don’t say it, Beth, they sing it!

Q: What is the thing that you are most excited about for Summer Camp 2013?
-Julia K., Lodi, WI

For one, I’m excited for perhaps amping up the rivalry between Camp Gray Pods to the point that our creative and talented Summer Staffers & Campers will create theme songs for every Pod!

Secondly, I’m excited for warmer weather!  This below zero bitter cold is hurting my bones!  However, it’s good that we still have four months to prepare for all the great things that are sure to come during Summer Camp 2013 – Camp’s 60th year!  What are some of the exciting things that are coming?  Just keep checking the Camp Gray website, youtube channel, facebook page, and twitter feed to learn more.

Hint, hint: There will be an announcement on Thursday about an AWESOME new item that’ll be sold in the Camp Gray Canteen Store this summer (and no, it’s not Snipe flavored coffee!).  When will this announcement come on Thursday?  During the 2nd Episode of the Afternoon’s with Jeff Hoeben Show – premiering Thursday afternoon at 3:30 PM CST on the Camp Gray youtube channel.

Q: What team do you support in the English Premier League?
-David, DeForrest, WI?

A good friend of mine from college is a big supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.  Another buddy from school roots for Chelsea.  I’m not partial to any team in the English Premier League though, as I like to keep my soccer rooting interests local.  Additionally, I like to root for teams that have an all-time undefeated record.

Q: If they made a reality series about the Summer Camp Staff, what would it be called? What would the competition be?
-Andy L., Chester, PA

Would you tune in to a show that documented the entire week of a Cassidy Games Chief? I know I would.

Great question, Andy!

My initial thought was to create a show which was completely ripped off from The Voice.  The judges for the CG Edition of the Voice wouldn’t be famous singer/song writers like on the normal Voice, though.  Rather, we would employ Tom, Tricia, Jim Riggs, and Monkey the Donkey (Walter the Fish would be an alternate…) to sit in those large and plush swivel chairs awaiting each contestants song of choice.  Who wouldn’t tune in to see that eclectic display of judgement on the singing talents of the Camp Gray Staff?

However, Pat Andera suggested a reality show which would document the Cassidy Games Chiefs each week.  Imagine a camera crew following the Chiefs around Camp all week, videoing their strategy for speedy meal clean-ups and their pep-talks before CTF.  Best of all, we could get audio of the Chiefs talking to themselves as they’re canoeing in circles in the middle of expansive Lake Jake as they’re attempting to paddle towards the flag pole during the culminating (culmination!) Lake Jake Relay Race…  That show would no doubt air on TNT – WE KNOW DRAMA.

Q: Did Brad really eat a bunny?
-Emily, St. Louis, MO

No bunnies were hurt during the creation of the “Brad Ate a Bunny” song.  You see, Brad just wants to be a wolf. 

Q: Does Camp have an underground network of tunnels traveled by Counselors?
-Darleen, Reedsburg, WI

During my first two years at Camp Gray, I couldn’t wrap my mind around how swiftly and stealthily Tom – Camp’s Property Manger – could travel from building to building.  It’s been said that Tom is a “Maintenance Enthusiast.” Even still, his quickness defied modern (and even renaissance era) physics.  I would look out the front window of Camp’s old office and see him tinkering on the Sts. Peter/Paul Bunkhouse.  I would then turn around and look out the back window and immediately he could be found dabbling at the swimming pool.

I wondered, “Does Tom have an underground tunnel which he uses to travel at high speeds from place to place in order to best maintain Camp?”

Turns out, nay, Tom’s tractor is just really fast.  It moves faster than a frightened turkey (did you know that turkey’s have a land speed of up to 15mph?).

But it got me thinking, wouldn’t it be neat if the mysterious blue door on the backside of the Peter/Paul Bunkhouse led down to a tunnel which would transport you from building to building at Camp?  To speed up travel, there would be a moving sidewalk like at the airport.  Stand on the right, walk on the left – that’s important.

Q: Where exactly does the Camp Gray moose live?  What is his/her off-season occupation?
– Elizabeth, Baraboo, WI

I envy you, Teddy. Kudos.

The Camp Gray moose has a rather thin hide (it’s akin to a thin brown blanket), so during these frigid winter months, he spends much of his time down in the Arts ‘n Crafts room.  One of Tom’s many tasks, in addition to maintaining the efficiency and quality of Camp’s buildings, is to tend to and care for the friendly Camp Gray moose.

On a side note, my dream of a riding a moose and using his antlers as a luggage rack has been put on hold for the time being.  Last I checked with the Camp Gray moose, he mentioned something about a lack of quality luggage rack space on his extremely unique antlers.  I’ll keep you posted on how this dream turns out.

Friends, for making it to the end of this lengthy Tuesdays with Topher Mailbag, you deserve a ribbon!  Seriously, email me your mailing address and I’ll send you a ribbon for your dedication to the written word of Camp Gray.  It’s because of YOU, the readers of these goofy and at times painfully long blogs, that I love to continue writing them, week after week.

God bless you!  And stay warm out there!

Do you have questions (about CG, sports, faith, coffee… anything!) for the semi-regular Tuesdays with Topher mailbag? Email! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions!  Check out the latest mailbag by clicking here.