After seven years as a camper, Jim Baker approached me in the off season with a special offer. He extended an invitation for me to return for the following camp as a counselor. He gave me the option of being a counselor (at the age of 16) or returning as a camper and mentioned that the choice would not be without sacrifice on my part. One particular item would be that, if I chose to become a counselor, I would never have the opportunity to be the Chief or Sag of the Seneca tribe. He also made the point that some of the campers would be older than me and but he didn't think that would be an issue. The decision would be mine to make.
My camp career continued as a counselor and not as a camper. First, it was a huge honor to be selected by Jim and have the opportunity to become a member of the Big Feet. Second, Jim had such a way of relating to young people that when asked, answering his request was really the best option. The transition from camper to counselor was major. For classes, I would be teaching archery and rifle marksmanship to campers. I was handed a lot of responsibility early as a counselor. At the time, there was a firing range at camp and one of the classes offered was learning to shoot target practice with .22 rifles. We did not have an established archery range per se, so we just used targets in the open recreation area.
More to be added. **********************
One of the dynamic experiences with being a counselor was working with the 4-H state and county staff. Jim Baker, Marion McDonald, Dean Belt, Ted Palmer and others all contributed in making the "best camp better." It was an honor just to work with their leadership.
Marion McDonald at State Fair
One of the funniest skits that I remember doing as a counselor was done on "party night" for both weeks of camp. The Big Feet presented a skit featuring me and the song leader, who was from 4-H camp in West Virginia. It was not unusual for Jim Baker to invite a college student from West Virginia to be our song leader for our camp especially in the early years of camp.
BASIS: The basis of the skit was to have our song leader provide a lesson and demonstration in doing "make-up" for the girls. Just because we were at camp was no reason to "let yourself go" and it was important to always look your best at camp, especially for the "Good Grooming Contest." The scene was a small table with all types of cosmetics arranged in a semi-circle in the order of the application. There was powder, lipstick, cream, eye shadow and other items that I don't remember. The song leader was seated behind the table facing the campers.
SETUP: The setup for the skit however, had an additional "unseen" character played by me. I was seated directly behind the song leader with a covering such as a blanket, over me. Her arms were down by her side under the blanket and my arms replaced hers in the scene. It was immensely obvious that the arms were not hers. Once in place, we were ready for the skit.
SKIT: She began with the explanation of what she was doing and how to apply the cosmetic. I couldn't see anything and had to follow her descriptive cues with my hands. Her instructions might include how to carefully apply lipstick (a bright red lipstick for effect) to the lips with being precise and only applying to the lips. That was my cue to do what she was describing. So, first, I had to find the lipstick, (the reason for the semi-circle organization) open it and apply it gently to the lip area only. I had to feel to locate where the lips were and then get the correct end of the lipstick applied "precisely" to the lips. The result was lipstick was mostly all over the lower part of her face. She then continued with other items like powder which ended up all over her face. The skit continued until her make-up demonstration was complete. It was a coordinated effort with her giving me clues. An example might be when I was having trouble locating the correct item on the table, she might give me a clue. Her discussion might go something like this in talking to the campers. "Next will be the lipstick." Then noting that I haven't found it yet, she would say something like "Now, where did I put the lipstick? Oh, here it is on the left."
RESULT: I cannot remember anytime in all of my weeks at camp where the campers laughed so hard and for so long. With every application, the campers would laugh when I completely missed the "target area," or maybe had the wrong item, or covered an area much larger that was supposed to be. The beautifully finished make-up job was a sight to see.
It would be nice to have pictures, but this was like 55 years ago. I hope you got a chuckle from this story which could mean the laughter continues all of these years later. Does anyone happen to remember seeing this skit?
(Note: In doing my research and from the information that I have, it is highly probable that the song leader mentioned could be Sara Stewart.)
WEST VIRGINIA STATE CAMP
One of the great memories during my counselor years was being selected to represent Delaware at the West Virginia State Camp. (1963) The camp is held at West Virginia University's Jackson's Mill. The camp was established in 1921 and was the first statewide 4-H camp in the United States. Sam Gwinn grew up in West Virginia and experienced this camp as a youth. When he started the Delaware 4-H Camp, he used the West Virginia camp as the "pattern" for Delaware's new camp. He then "recruited" Jim Baker to come to Delaware. Together, they originated the 4-H Camp program in Delaware. Clearly our camp has its roots in West Virginia.
It was absolutely amazing to attend their camp, knowing our camp history. West Virginia was celebrating its Centennial and that added a little extra. I attended as a camper (not as a counselor) and it was like reliving my camper years in Delaware. One thing that was notably different from our camp was the size of the council circle. It was huge and more like a "bowl" compared to ours.