Today started off absolutely beautiful (albeit a little humid) but nothing some dips in the pool and the lake couldn’t fix! As I mentioned in my blog last Friday, today is a special day at camp because we get to come together for a barbecue lunch and celebrate one another at services tonight (this week’s CGL CHIPS is Perseverance!)
This afternoon was our first official BUNKO of the summer! Bunko is when a thunderstorm moves into the area and all campers are called back to their cabins to safely wait out the storm together. While it may sound like a bit of a buzzkill at first, it’s actually a great time for campers to bond with their bunkmates and counselors and get a little much-needed rest.
Last summer, we didn’t have a single Bunko. It was a dry summer. I yearned for the sound of distant thunder and the call over the loudspeaker so we could hunker down in our cabin for some unexpected downtime.
In fact, I yearned for it so much that I actually wrote a play about it.
Sidenote: at home in Orlando, I have spent the past 3 years working as a theatre teacher. On the side, I love writing plays for young people, particularly middle schoolers, where they get to play characters that are their own age and take real agency in the stories they are telling. While brainstorming a new play last summer and trying to come up with situations that would realistically include a group of middle school-aged characters, camp simply fell into my lap.
The play is aptly titled Bunko!, and it takes place in the dining hall of a camp not unlike Camp Green Lane. The story takes place mid-Color War, and there is a massive storm that moves in over camp. Two cabins are severely damaged in the storm, and the campers who inhabit them are relocated to the dining hall to wait out the rain. Everyone is uncertain about the rest of their summer at camp, anxious they’ll be sent home early, and at the suggestion of one particular leader, they scrounge around the dining hall to find supplies to host their own Color War events to keep distracted from the storm.
Spoiler alert: the innovative campers come together to brainstorm solutions as to how everyone can stay at camp for the rest of the summer and no one gets sent home early.
While the camp the play is centered around is called Camp Manitoba, there are plenty of similarities to Camp Green Lane. I borrowed a lot of names of people (upper staff, counselors, and campers) whom I saw positively impacting CGL, and thus the characters of Futerman, Jake, Gladstone, Frantz, Tori, Rachel, Mindy, Ellie S., Ellie W., and many others were created.
It was a little surreal watching the play come to life as Jesse directed it for his Florida Jr. Thespian competition last fall. Since most of his students had never experienced summer camp before, we created our own Color War and everyone came into school on a Saturday dressed in green or gold (the colors of Camp Manitoba) and participated in a slew of competitive camp activities. We taught them how to make friendship bracelets. We did a read-through of the show and watched as characters that were so deeply rooted in real CGL people came to life on a cafetorium stage in Orlando, Florida.
From the call of “Attention everyone at camp, attention eeeeveryone at camp” opening the play (Aunt Sandy’s familiar call at the start of every CGL announcement) to the play centering around two cabins called Dodgers and Claridge, to references of Cadet Hill, to the constant communication via walkie talkies (we even bought the exact same brand for the show as we use here at camp for true authenticity), so much of Camp Green Lane lives on in the play.
I’ll be sending it to my publishers shortly, and soon, schools and students all over the country will be bringing life to Camp Manitoba and the spirit of CGL. It’s a pretty awesome thing to think about.
I wonder what this summer at camp will inspire me to write…