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  • "Dong Dong Dong Dong….Dong Dong Dong Dong….Dong Dong Dong Dong……” That is the four bell, calling the campers to wake up. It’s only the four bell. You don’t have to get out of bed quite yet. But I was jolted out of grogginess when I remembered what today was. Trips! It was best to get moving now… it would be smart to use this time to make sure everything I needed was packed. Kicking away my sleeping bag, I ducked under my bug net and climbed down from my bunk. I checked all the compartments of my bag. Clothing? Probably more then I needed. Check. Bug spray and sunblock? Check. (Turns out I didn’t use either during the whole trip). Mess kit? Check. Headlamp? Check. I didn’t dare bring my camera and journal on this hike. Both were ruined on cabin trips- from the rain. All I needed now- besides group gear, which would be stuffed in later- was my sleeping bag. Others were stirring around me… apparently they had the same insight that I had. I grabbed my stuff sack and stuffed my sleeping bag in, then stuffed that into the pack. It pretty much took up all the extra room I had. The counselors for my trip were Steph and Mazey- and I was glad; not only was Steph my cabin counselor but she also worked magic when it came to stuffing bags. According to her, hiking packs never fill up- they always have more room if you pack them right. No matter of shoving would get the contents of the pack to give way to more space, and I had to wait for a chance to ask Steph for her magic hand. Luckily, Steph likes doing that sort of thing- she likes showing us amateur weakling hikers how to do it right.
    Three bell- Everyone’s up now giving the last shove and tightening the last straps. I know that soon the counselors would double-check our belongings, making sure we had everything we needed, nothing more, nothing less, and we would have to take everything out of the packs again before it was time to leave. Usually I would reopen and close my pack about ten times even after I thought It was all secure; always something I forgot to add, always something I need to take out… I can never get it right the first time.
    Two bell- We’re all headed up for the lodge- putting our packs down; only a short while to hang out before the one bell calls and it’s time for a our last breakfast at home before trips. I trudge slowly up the hill, wash my hands at the spigot, blow soap bubbles from my hands. We circle up- do our count offs: “Is Pico here?”
    “Sid-Is-A-Fragile-Being-Help-It-Live-Water-Sunshine-Sid Sid Sid!”
    “Is…Okemo here?” “
    “Our name is Okemo! –And-We-Want-To-Dance-At-Your-Party!(Dancing, dancing)”
    “…Are ADK Questers here?”
    (Count offs, you might be wondering, are where a person in each cabin says a word and together they form some sort of sentence-which could be as ridiculous as they want it to be-if a person is missing, the sentence doesn’t make sense (not that it does anyway)
    This amusing ritual, and then we went around the circle in case anyone had an announcement. After that the circle leaders announced the spinning contest, which I participated in, but somehow couldn’t win. Then we held suggestions for grace, picked one, and sang.

    The breakfast was glorious, as usual, and it ended too soon. After the tables were cleared, Hike+Climb gathered beneath the food shelter to double-check supplies and to add some group gear- including tents and all the food.
    “No, no,” said Steph, looking at my pair of insulated jeans skeptically. ‘Those are cotton. They’ll make you cold if they get even slightly wet and are bad for hiking in. I can order you a pair of hiking pants and shorts from Mac ‘o’ Back.”
    “Umm… sure. And I might need a rain jacket. I’ve got no rain gear.”
    “Yes you do. You have a pancho.”
    “I lost it…”
    “Ok, so Jaden an Denny need rain gear…. cool. Got that down.”
    “Mess kits everyone! Have them?”
    “Got the forks and stuff… but no bowl.”
    “What happened to the one you borrowed from Mac?”
    “I gave it back!”
    Steph eyed me. “Okay then, a-“
    “No, wait!” I gasp, “My parents sent me the bowl I left at home…it’s in a package!”
    I’m still talking as I run into the lodge and grab the package from the Okemo cabin shelf. I slide the shallow blue plastic bowl out, congratulating myself for remembering. Running back, I hold it up for them to see.
    “Check. Okay now, does everyone have a warm fleece…?”
    This for fifteen minutes, and then we each take group gear* and choose a pile of food to carry. I try to get the lightest pile; hopefully this strategy will work in leaving me with a lighter pack then the others. Yet without the extra group gear and food, my back pack was a perfect weight for me. Now it brought back bad memories of the deadweight I carried on my back all through cabin trips. Still, either because I was stronger or I had indeed packed lighter, I could bear it now. As all the equipment disappeared into our packs, we knew our journey was just about to begin. After a picture on the hill with Jeff, ADK Hike+Climb gathered in front of the goodbye spinner. I took a spin at it, and the arrow rested on “Bye, see ya!”. We all yelled this at the deserted camp, then filed into the big green van, chauffeured by our famous Cook, Sam, and we rolled to the end of the gravel driveway. As we began to dive away from our beloved SAM camp, we let out the traditional cry: “Aaaaaand we’re off!”
  • Image 1: Forest
    Image 2: Counselor Mazey
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