“Best camp ever!” were the words uttered again by 67-year-old Wes Corbett from Florida, our “Blue Steel,” Eagle Scout, active senior participant of 9 years at The Generation Connection camp. The reasons?
The campers’ daily experience was organized around the theme of “The past is alive today.” This started on the first day, when campers walked in the rain to Jim Polk’s house, dripped on his floors, listened attentively to Jim’s geologic history of Lockeland Spring, and introduced themselves by making videos, before walking through the Spring. For Lunch, Chef Hal at Lockeland Table in East Nashville provided all campers and staff with oven-roasted pizzas topped with veggies right the raised beds behind the restaurant, and strongly stated how mannerly the campers were.
All of day two was spent canoeing on the Harpeth river with the Sierra Club, initiated with Woody’s safety instructions. Six hours in a canoe resulted in special bonds between campers and their junior or senior counselor canoe partners, plus plenty of friendly splashing of fellow paddlers. Mad Platter Restaurant owner and indefatigable Inner City Outings Head Craig Jervis provided lunch and presented a history of the river and nearby Native American Mounds.
During the morning of day three at Fisk University, the past became very much alive as Fisk faculty and students guided us through the library, art galleries, and historic building, complete with ghost stories. Many campers commented on how impressed they were with a purple, velvet covered Bible presented to Fisk by Abraham Lincoln. That afternoon we headed to Mary Beth and Harry Shields’ 192-acre Rock ‘N Refuge Farm for the Generation Connection’s first overnight campout. Campers picked and prepared their own vegetables to eat around a roaring campfire that night.
After the Shields prepared a delicious farm breakfast the next morning, campers willingly cleaned stalls, swept out the chicken coop, fed catfish, built a raised vegetable bed, and worked with the horses, with help from farmer-cowboys Dave and Chris. A rainless afternoon was spent swinging off a rope swing, skipping rocks, and fishing at a beautiful creek Norman Rockwell might have painted.
Camp ended on Friday in the spacious gym at the Church of the Nazarene in East Nashville, thanks to Recreation Outreach Director Matt Dunlap. We learned about the history of badminton and how to play from veterans John, Angie, and Mary of the East Park badminton club. Frank Huynh, a 72-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, beat various counselors at ping-pong, played badminton, and performed for us on the Chinese violin. You could have heard a pin drop as he finished by leading all the campers (young and old) through a series of Tai Chi moves, connecting us all to an ancient Chinese art form.
Through it all, campers archived their adventures on video, as well as creating their own movies with plots tied to the camp theme, all of which will soon be available on www.thegenerationconnection.com. This unique and creative media literacy component has been led for all 10 years by Rhys Daunic, assisted this year by his wife Nicole, Teague Wilson, and two volunteer media professionals, Dannikke Walker and Evan Regaster, who flew in from LA to help out.
The connections of young and old, past and future at the heart of the camp experience are reflected in the seniors, junior counselors, and young adults who make up the staff. Each morning, seniors Zoraida and Rafael Ojeda had us organized and ready to start our day. On Day 1, senior Bob Wilkins illustrated some safety tips, and Peggy Drew talked about being a polite, good listener throughout the week. Fred Booth always kept the big picture and necessary details in mind. Sharing Wes’ attitude that everything will work out, they made sure it did, rain or shine, while resident scholar Jim Polk linked each day’s experiences to our theme.
With junior counselors Matt, Da’shon, Maddie, Noah, and Shelton coming up from Florida to join Nashvillians Koko, Diana, and Teague, we had the youth leadership and supervision to get the job done. Special thanks go to our camp director Graham Gray for her mix of compassion and organizational skills, both key to making this the “best camp ever.” My nieces Ginny and Allie added energy and took athletic activities and nursing care to a new level, and Emily Masters’ community contacts provided us with wonderful lunches from Khan’s, Porter Road Butcher, The Mad Platter, Nuvo Burrito, and a dinner from Italia Pizza—not to mention her generous donation of DancEast as our “home base.”
I also thank ma belle femme Ann Daunic for her 10 years of help. She is a wonderful senior relater to this great cross section of 8-12 year olds.
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