Friday, July 23, 2010

Operation Purple at Camp Campbell Gard

July 21, 2010 (Hamilton, Ohio)

We arrived on Tuesday night in a misty rain to a warm and friendly welcome by the Director, Jim Sexstone, and Asst. Director, Pete Fasano. The YMCA camp, beautifully situated on the banks of the Great Miami River in southern Ohio, was established in the mid-1920s for boys and girls of all races and faiths. The motto of the camp, “Character through Camping,” underscores how deeply our experiences in the out-of-doors can inspire us in developing a personal ethic. Leave No Trace shares this same sentiment, and it is based on a respect and love for the outdoors.

This week Camp Campbell Gard is hosting Operation Purple, a camp program of the National Military Family Association for children of active duty US military personnel. Our program was one of several activities on the camp’s Military Day, which included a flight simulator, military vehicles, tug-of-war and pilot-rescue obstacle course. Undaunted by such entertaining competition, we pulled out our big guns: the poop tube, bear canister, Bigfoot feet and our most popular games for teaching the principles of Leave No Trace. Nearly 200 campers and staff visited our learning station during the morning. After a great barbecue lunch, campers participated in service projects of trash collection, trail maintenance and removal of invasive species on the camp property.

We can only guess whether today’s experiences have given the campers a stronger sense of kinship with Camp CG and a deeper appreciation of the camp’s philosophy. What we do know is that tonight there are sleeping bags spread out in the field under the starry sky, fireflies are busy in their ancient choreography, and the river is silently flowing along its timeless course to the sea. Children’s sleepy voices are drifting across the night air, no doubt debating one of life’s enduring questions: “Does Bigfoot really exist?” All is well, and for the moment, life is good indeed at Camp Campbell Gard.

Hope to see you down the road,

Barrett and Peggy

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