Kids probably don’t have a clue what work is these days. No, I’m not talking about 16 year olds, I’m talking 9 and 10 year olds.
Boys came in 1982, our first year, to “work.” Well, that was the idea. And work they did. I suppose some people could have accused me of using child labor to build the camp and at times I’m sure it seemed pretty cruel. I can remember the first year “paying” boys with a cup of bug juice after they had hauled five (or maybe that was ten) buckets of gravel up the hill onto the path. And I think they were treated to a bonus of a candy bar after their 25th load (or maybe that was 50). It was a formidable task. But if you were there that first summer you will probably remember the foot or more of mud that was the trail up to where the tents were located. It was a mess. And so, by hand, bucket by bucket, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow...the boys and staff must have placed 20 to 30 tons or more of gravel to help dry it out.
While boys were recruited to help build the camp that first year, we quickly learned that that wasn’t going to hack it. It wasn’t long before we were scrambling to find other activities to do. If you read some of the camper poems composed that first year (which can be found on this website), you’ll hear from some pretty rattled campers and counselors who weren’t quite sure what they were doing in this wilderness call TrailRidge Mountain Camp.
In the end, we were doing more “camp” stuff than “work” stuff. But the hard work combined with the lack of planned at activities at the beginning, added to the rough living conditions, and throw in the wettest summer in years...took it’s toll. We had the most campers ever that first summer (which was unexpected but understandable what with 50$ a week fee and a chance to be part of something new). Only a small percentage returned for a second summer.
But some of those came back year after year after year.
And I’ve said this before...whether you were at camp two weeks or six years...you were most appreciated. It was you who were TMC.