Sunday, May 1, 2016

118. The Golden Mug

For some reason, things have felt so heavy for me this past week. I don’t know exactly why. I like this weather and things are going well for me in multiple departments: personally, professionally, financially. It just feels like everything I’ve been inspired by lately have been heavy, depressing stuff. Life shouldn’t be like that. So, I’m going to recap one day where I was at my best: Week five of Chippewa Camp, summer of 2009.

It was our busiest week of the year. Most all of camp was at capacity. I think every one of our sites in our camp was booked. And a lot of those troops were big ones. Two of the troops had over 40 scouts, plus dozens of adults. And mid-July weather is difficult. It’s either broiling hot or spotted with thunderstorms.

One of my jobs as commissioner was to make the adults happy. I enjoyed the job tremendously. My morning would consist of me walking to four or five campsites to check in on how everything was going. About eight times out of 10, the leaders were happy or just had minor questions. The other two times they’d be asking for toilet paper. (I learned to carry extra rolls in my backpack. I’d usually bring my mug over for a cup of coffee or two. (I’d be pretty heavily caffeinated by 10 a.m. I was probably dangerously close to dehydration more times than not.)

On this week, I happened to commission two of the biggest sites. Some troops aren’t organized or have very minor-league cooking operations, but these two troops had it figured out: gas grills, mess tents, and every gadget from REI.

I noticed that one of the campsites had a coffee shop-level coffee maker. It was a propane fired cappuccino maker: three spouts, a frother, and other things that Starbucks would be jealous of.

I started to talk up the gadgetry between the campsites. The leaders, and even some scouts, tried to butter me up (almost literally, with scones and other breakfast goodies) and make sure their coffee was the best. Being the enterprising summer camp employee that I was, I thought, “How can this benefit me?”

I decided to hold a coffee competition at 7 a.m. in the parade field. The winner would get a spray painted golden mug, “The Golden Mug.” I think that day was slightly rainy, which was a good thing, hot coffee on hot days is the worst. Five troops showed up. Some just brought their site-brewed coffee, which surely wasn’t going to win. One troop had bacon-chocolate shavings in the mocha, another guy made an orange-cream syrup from stuff found in the dining hall. I had a few other judges with me and we all consumed too much. As soon as we sampled everything, we met in the director’s office and tallied our votes. We were all giggling. I don’t remember why the one troop won, but it was a lot of fun. And I still got to go back to the campsites and enjoy more coffee for the rest of the week.

I held the competitions fairly regularly throughout the course of the next few weeks and into the next summer, but none of them had that same energy as the first one. But it had everything I enjoyed about camp: initiative, creativity, goofiness, and of course, coffee.

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