Img 2115.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

All the Characters

Img 0091.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

When campers return home from GRP, they have a million experiences to share with their folks. They breathlessly detail their exploits, activities, hikes, campout, the friends they made, dessert, the centipede they picked up which made their hands smell like cherries, that time they jumped off the high jump which is, like, a billion feet high, etc, etc. One such topic which may have already delighted but confused the family members of recently returned campers are all the strange, wonderful characters that visit us after mealtimes. You’ve probably heard rambling tales of doctors and superheroes and fairies, which are as amusing as they are hard to piece together. For those puzzled parents and loved ones out there wondering what all the fuss is about, here is a comprehensive guide to the colorful cast of characters that blow through the lodge to liven up our dining experience.

Img 0123.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

After breakfast, you’re liable to learn from one of two distinguished academics who like to share their expertise with our campers. One is Doctor Dictionary, a world-renowned etymologist who drops by to teach us all the word of the day (ask your camper if they can recite the song we sing to bring them out when they return.) They go in depth, covering the word’s various meanings and encouraging our kids to incorporate it into their daily vocabulary. Their slightly less credible counterpart is the slightly less world-renowned ornithologist Doctor Dodo. Motivated by their deep distrust for anything that flies, Doctor Dodo shares several facts about one of the birds that can be found right here on the Green River Preserve, as well as a few…well-meaning theories they have about the birds’ true intentions.

Img 0605.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Every day after lunch, the campers are paid a visit from the magical mistress of cleanliness herself, the Cabin Fairy. Before we go out on our daily mentor hikes, each cabin is given some time to straighten up their space, and once we’ve left, the Cabin Fairy floats by and checks to see the condition of our cabins. Then, after lunch is all cleaned up, she runs in and rewards the two neatest cabins with the highest honor she can bestow; a pink plastic lawn flamingo which sits on their table as a sign of them doing their part to preserve our facilities for future campers to enjoy. This is both a joy and a concern for councilors, who often agree to jump into the lake fully clothed at the end of the session should their campers win cleanest cabin, including yours truly. Hooray.

 mg 7672.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Rounding out our cast is undoubtedly the most famous duo in the history of GRP; the superheroic, food-waste fighting pair known as Ortman and Scrappy. We take care to encourage environmental stewardship in our campers, and a big part of that is making sure that we eat responsibly. Ortman and Scrappy run out after dinner and check how much ORT (organic recyclable trash) we produced during the meal, either congratulating campers for theirbgood work or gently encouraging them to do better next time. Often, they’re confronted by a rogue’s gallery of villains working against their mission. There are far too many to list here, but your campers will no doubt tell you all about their slapdash costumes and ill-fated attempts to defeat the undefeatable Ortman and Scrappy.

 mg 1877.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

These remarkable visitors give our campers fun, bright moments to look forward to in their day, and are a beloved part of the camp culture. Some may insist that this is all the work of our councilors, but don’t be fooled. There might be a few doppelgangers of our mealtime guests among the staff, but that’s pure coincidence. When you’re there, watching it all happen, laughing along with the whole camp, these characters are vividly real. Even when the campers press us, asking where we were for the end of lunch and remarking about just how similar we look to the Cabin Fairy, you can see that a small part of them believes, despite themselves. That small part makes it real, and camp is all the more magical for it.

Story by Mason Atkinson with photos by Brandon S. Marshall