We went to Summer Camp last week.  Every year we go back to the same camp, Camp LaNoChe in the Central Florida Council.  We promote it to our first and second year scouts and we usually get a number of older scouts as well, 19 of us went this year.  LaNoChe has a ton of Merit Badge classes, a large Aquatics program, a bunch of older Scout stuff including ATVs and Jet Skis, but the reason I like going back is Joey, a young (20 – 21?) staffer at the camp.

We were at the Scoutmaster dinner with all of the other leaders at camp last week and they talked about all of the new camp programs, new facilities and all of the stuff that is coming.  I admit, all of that stuff is  impressive,  but it’s not why we camp there.

Joey is the Camp Counselor that turns a hot camp, full of homesick younger scouts into a mountain top experience.  He used to be in the first year program, Trail Blazers, now he’s over at the range.  But while he is always a favorite teacher, it’s not because of his classes it’s because of the chow hall.  Always with a smile on his face, he’s the one that leads silly songs in the chow line.  He encourages scouts and acts as the big brother on staff.

I always hear a lot of grumbling from other volunteers about camp, no matter which one we go to:  the merit badge program wasn’t what they thought, the food wasn’t great, something was broken that shouldn’t have been, it’s too hot, the lake’s too cold, whatever.  With the stress of so many scouts around, the heat and the long hours, it’s easy to focus on any and all of that.  That’s why Joey is invaluable.  A couple of doses of him per day, singing about nonsense and bringing pure joy to a 10 year old homesick scout is more important to me than the Jet Ski program.

Unfortunately (for us) the day will come when Joey won’t be at camp any more.  He’ll graduate from college and life will become complicated and we’ll miss him.  But, he’s leaving a legacy.  The older scouts in my troop and others are watching and learning.  They are learning that being goofy is sometimes better than being cool.  They are being inspired by Joey and his friends to volunteer for staff next year and hopefully beyond.  I expect in a few years, I’ll write about the new Joey and how he is the real reason why we attend LaNoChe.  Can’t wait to meet him.

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