Camp Ondessonk traditions are both fun and important, here are just a couple to get you started.
Snog is a tradition that happens at the end of any meal that takes place in the dining hall. When everyone is finished eating, campers are encouraged to gather their plates, cups and bowls for the hopper (meal helper) to take back to the kitchen. But the rest of the items on the table are used to arrange into a design or display, often with a theme announced by the dining hall manager. If the theme was Disney, perhaps people would use their orange peels or napkins or serving utensils and dishes to arrange a mermaid scene from Little Mermaid. Or maybe they would make the castle from Disney World out of ice cream wrappers!
Once all announcements are finished and everyone is ready to leave the dining hall, the dining hall manager will say, “if there are no more announcements, it must be…” and everyone together yells, “SNOG TIME!” The dining hall manager then picks their top 3 favorite/best snogs by knocking a wooden statue on their table. Those three tables get to leave first, and then while everyone starts singing the camp song, the dining hall manager knocks every other table to dismiss them.
Regular summer campers (excluding mini camps, adventure camps) all participate, as a unit, in a weeklong friendly competition for the coveted Golden Arrowhead. The Golden Arrowhead is, literally, an arrowhead patch just like those you can earn at activity areas to prove your competence, but is golden with the Camp Ondessonk symbol on it. A unit winning the Golden Arrowhead signifies that they were able to prove their competence across many areas, including activities, teamwork, strength, intelligence, model behavior, creativity and camp spirit. Elements that contribute to the Golden Arrowhead determination include activity achievements (such as # of bullseyes at archery), Friday Activity achievements (winning Tug of War or Marathon), Inspection achievements (from evening inspection and cabin inspection), Skits, living the theme, volunteering on their own time (picking up trash, etc), Snog, etc. The Golden Arrowhead winner is announced at breakfast on Saturday, and each camper and staff member in that unit gets the patch for that week.
There are two types of inspection at Camp Ondessonk during a regular week of camp. One is cabin inspection, where counselors inspect cabins during the day for neatness (encouraging campers to keep their personal items near or under their bunks, trash picked up regularly), reporting grades back to the unit leaders (which do count toward the Golden Arrowhead).
The other is an evening tradition that takes place out on the parade grounds. Every evening before dinner, all units cross the covered bridge out into the parking lot, reporting in for the day to the flag ceremony. Attendance of all units is taken verbally, and 3 inspectors (staff members) walk through each unit to ensure that the campers are present, clean, and in uniform (their unit camp shirt and sensible shoes) and also to ascertain their performance as they are called to attention. The top 3 units each evening are announced and released to leave to dinner first, also earning points toward the Golden Arrowhead. While the main purpose of inspection is to account for everyone and ensure that campers are in good condition, some units can go above and beyond to showcase their unity in the hopes of winning, such as wearing similar items, lining up perfectly, or being in unison on their being called to attention.
Camp Ondessonk strives to ensure that all campers, staff, or any visitors are excellent stewards of the environment. While everyone should be cognizant of their impact on the earth and the beautiful Shawnee National Forest, we know it can be tricky to be 100% vigilant. One tradition helps keep everyone accountable to each other is the way we deal with litterbugs.
At any moment, if anyone sees someone throw trash on the ground, they should immediately run up to them, point it out, and say, “You, my friend, are a PIG!” Hopefully, the offender will be so glad that someone showed them the error of their ways, they will take their new friend to the trading post to buy them a version of whatever they threw on the ground. (They will also, of course, throw the trash away.) Sometimes, however, the offender might be resistant to shifting their habits. If this is the case, the observer should find the nearest staff member and report the litterbug! Then together, they will approach the offender and say, “You, my friend, are a PIG!” and thus, the offender has to buy both of them a similar item from the Trading Post.