By Lucia Hodges
In 1964, I had counted the days until Ondessonk’s “Girl’s Season” began during the second half of the summer. Boy campers came for the first six weeks. I was rehired for summer number two as stable crew, my dream job. My main reason for coming to Camp in the first place was that Camp had a herd! I went to work at Stable “B,” the original barn that was at Brebeuf Flats.
It was to be an absolutely glorious six weeks in the barn! “Cocky” said so. Several of my Notre Dame classmates were hired for staff as well. K. K. Fischer was elated to be assigned Unit Leader for the two-week unit of Garnier.
The middle of week one, the rumors started. The unit of Garnier, populated almost entirely with girls from Reitz Memorial High in Evansville, Ind., was garnering lots of negative attention. Reportedly, girls were skinny dipping in Ozark Creek (before Lake Echon), swinging on and destroying cabin doors (cabins had them in 1964), coming late or skipping activities, and in general, creating chaos. The staff felt sorry for poor K.K.
Then, one dark night it happened. Capture the Flag in the pasture was a usual event for two-weekers. The pasture has gullies and divets. K.K. broke an ankle. I knew better than to accuse K.K. of doing it on purpose, although others would speculate. The following morning, as I blissfully saddled horses, I was called to the office to learn that I would be taking over as Garnier Unit Leader. (Pause here to imagine several choice words of dismay.) Three campers, not from Evansville, came to me in a panic to distance themselves from the notorious bunch. I called a Unit meeting!
After a rousing, but stern “pep” talk (wish I’d saved a copy), Garnier became a Unit of winners! Wearing their matching gym suits often won inspection. We came in first place in Tug, Field Day, AND Water Carnival. With the majority of our campers being members of the Reitz choir, our campfire skit (songs written by camper Peg Hausmann) sung in three-part harmony still makes me want to hear it again. It won FIRST also. The fact that one of the judges was my Notre Dame drama teacher didn’t hurt. I think it might be significant to note that SEVERAL of these Garnier girls became staff. What I initially thought would be one of my worst experiences at Ondessonk, turned out to be one of my most cherished.
Footnote: In my subsequent four summers on staff, I never made it back to the barn.
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