I, Ally Daily, had a super fun experience at our Twin Cities Pizza Party.
I ran into a camper, Genevieve K., who reminded me of a crazy moment from 2018. I wasn’t always the Girl’s AD, before that I was a counselor for 4 years, including 2018 and 2019. Genevieve was my camper in Yakama in 2018, I was co-counselors with a wonderful counselor called Ana Resines from Monterrey, Mexico. Genevieve and I talked about one of her most memorable nights as my camper, and laughed all the way down memory lane.
Here’s what happened on the fateful night my cabin decided to go to the Muck Pond…
The year is 2018, Ana and I are in charge of 6 adorable 8 year old campers. The girls decided they want to go to the Muck Pond. If you are not familiar, the Muck Pond is this really cool place in the middle of the Foley Woods, where a natural pond has formed in a basin back behind the Upper Treehouses. It’s the perfect place for some messy fun and getting muddy. Alas, we were not destined to have a messy muddy night…
Going to the Muck pond requires different preparation than other evening programs in the woods.
Usually we tell campers to “Tick Up” by tucking their pants into socks and shirts into pants to avoid those gross blood sucking critters. Not the case for Muck Pond nights, because we know we are going to get all muddy, we dress in our swim suits. Tonight, there is no major ticking up, because we’re basically about to go swimming in mud. So picture me and Ana and all our campers in water shoes, swimsuits, and NO long socks heading into the wild!
I, at this point, have been a counselor for 3 years, and a camper for 11, and needless to say I was feeling confident, TOO confident. Like I stated above the Muck Pond is located up in the woods and you need to follow the right path to arrive there. There is one specific turn where the path forks, if you miss that turn you will not end up at the Muck Pond, no matter how long you walk. Having all this experience under my belt, and perhaps wanting to show off to my new co counselor and awesome little campers, I declined the offer of a Map and assured my boss Alli Faricy I knew exactly where we were going. Spoiler alert… I did not.
We are walking in the woods, having missed this turn and are none the wiser.
I know in my heart the muck pond is 15 min walk max. After 15 min comes and goes, my co-counselor pipes up for the first time. “Ally are you sure we’re going the right way?” Her complete trust in me had worn off and now she sounded worried. But I was Ally Daily, 3rd year counselor, of course we were going the right way!… We were not.
Soon the path is bending and I accept that we are a little lost, but I was holding out hope that the Muck Pond would just appear out of no where.
We pass an old deer stand in a tree, and I decide like a good adventurer that I’m going to climb up and get a better vantage point of where we are going. I climb up the ladder to look out, I see nothing but trees and this path we’re on, no camp, no muck pond. I climb down and report that I think we may have missed a turn and we are no longer on the path to the muck pond. This is when camper Genevieve asks “But you know where we are right?”… I did not.
I wanted to be honest with the campers that I was pretty sure we were on the Wolf Trail, and we were definitely still on camp property. Another camper Eloise asks a very smart question, “don’t you have a phone, can’t you call someone for help?!” Contrary to what the campers think , counselors do not carry their phones with them, and I was a very good counselor. I may have been regretting following that rule in the moment, but it caused me to do something every good summer camp counselor must do, think on my feet… Which I did!
I turned our failed Muck Pond adventure into a Wolf Trail Adventure!
We stopped to pick wild flowers, looked for animal tracks, and explored the trail as we continued to walk forward. After realizing we were pretty much on the middle of the longest trail in the camp woods, we had 2 options. Turn around and walk back the way we came or keep going. Being a returning counselor did help here, because I knew the Wolf Trail was a big circle and eventually led back onto the Moose Trail, which went right by upper treehouses. So if we kept going, I knew camp would appear again… And it did!
We ended up having so much fun, and NO I’m not just trying to cover up my mistake!
It was the perfect happy accident once I had reworked the evening for my campers. We were no longer lost, but adventuring! No longer scared, but brave and ready to face what’s out there! No longer bored, but investigating the trails and the woods!
The cherry on top, the perfect ending to this wild tale is this…
We made the long loop of the Wolf Trail and things start to look familiar again. We start down what I know for sure is the Moose trail to head back to camp. As we near the Upper Treehouses, I notice there is a cabin of wolf boys up there for their night away from camp. I soon realize with a sinking feeling it is Cabin Wahtassa, and guess who happens to be the counselor in 2018 for Wahtassa 3rd session? My little brother John. So not only are we so late to getting back to camp, we are not covered in mud from a Muck pond adventure, and we aren’t even coming from the right direction, I was totally busted! I got called out and teased by him for many days after this.
Reflecting on this night, it has become one of my most favorite memories as a counselor. I am proud of the way Ana and I were quickly able to spin our evening into a success after that major drawback. We improvised our way to success!
Just to prove I didn’t traumatize these campers, I asked Genevieve for a quote about the night, in her own words, 5 years later…
“I just remember being worried about the Muck Pond and getting all dirty, and then we ended up going for a super fun walk and even saw a family of raccoons, and it was just the funniest thing, whenever I look back on it, I laugh!”
Every girl in my cabin said at the end of the session, that it was one of her favorite nights. And we even did manage to make it to the Muck Pond eventually! The results speak for themselves. If you’re not already, register your child today to make memories that will last a lifetime, planned and unplanned!