[Co-author’s note: This daily log is based on last night’s campfire reading, “By The Waters of Babylon.” It is a creative writing exercise, and artistic liberties were taken. The scheduling situation described is due to a temporary surge in important events, including upcoming crew races, competitions, and theater productions. This has not been the norm. Friday was a truly wonderful day, full of great moments and surprises. We hope you enjoy this creative take on the daily log!]
The North and the South and the West of Lake Newfound adhere to the words “Live Free or Die.” To the East there is a large forest. A forest built by the steady hands of the gods who came before. They erected dormitories, boats, theaters, courts, which were built for the Citizens of the Hills to roam free.
My ancestors were Citizens of the Hills; I too am a Citizen of the Hills. I have glimpsed the Land of the Free, but as has been made known to me, this freedom is a relic of the past. My family has passed down stories of this great forest. A land they once wandered without binding. They tell stories of the gods that roamed the hills, the institution builders, the keepers of the program. But now there are laws, rules, and schedules. My ancestors recount cutting their own path, but now I find myself shuffling out of the Great Hall (Mem-Hall), my fate determined by the Law of the East. It has been The law since I can remember. I keep my head down, I sweep when I am told to sweep, I row when I am told to row, I jump in the water when I am told “all in.” The stories recount of a “free time,” but now I file into my scheduled location where I am told to repeat and rehearse lines from a text I have read dozens of times prior. They feed us, we sleep, and we rise again to a list of locations and activities. “Be at the Boathouse promptly at 3:00,” “Shop is scheduled only,” “Scheduled Stage Crew for the Trustees Play guys (in prep for tomorrow’s performance),” “Respond to the 6:05 Bugle for the 6:10 Tree Talk.” I hear the words and follow the path laid before me.
After a near full day journey, I arrived at the Tree Talk Ridge. I closed my eyes and imagined the gods who spoke here before me. As I opened my eyes, I noticed the fellow Citizens of the Hills had filed in just as I had. We sat, waited, and listened. Nicky Longo stood tall, and began: “At camp, it is easy to see that we are a part of a whole. Our transgenerational history, our shared uniform, our duties, our connected dormitories, our shared values.” My eyes widened; I looked around again. Is this what life in the time of gods was like? We stood and thanked Nicky for his message. We heard and imagined a window into the history that we follow.
As we filed into dinner, I meditated further on Nicky’s message. Maybe, rather than an impediment, the schedule was a means to a collective goal… Perhaps the age of the gods was just another moment in our collective story… Perhaps the freedom I have heard of is still here. I do, after all, want to be successful on Sunday’s crew race! Frankly, I’m glad we have the practice time. Like I have said, we all know of the stories of the legendary crew men who have come before, those who we consider gods… Mr. Vinnie comes to mind. But lo! During announcements, he appeared! And he stood among us!
Later that night, Mr. Vinnie led us through a reading of “By the Waters of Babylon.” I listened to the words. We listened to the words. “We make a beginning,” he reads. I sit amongst Citizens of the Hills: campers. Where I once saw the images of gods and their creation, I now see that they were men. Mr. Vinnie stands among them. I stand among them. We all stand among them. The year is 2021 – another moment in the long tradition. A continuation of the same. May our activities be thoroughly finished, one crew race at a time.