The sun rose over a cool misty morning early in the day in Black Mountain. The crisp breeze brought a breath of relief to the summer heat, and served as a catalyst to success in camp activities on this beautiful Independence Day. Eyes were still wide and tummies still full from Dan’s dazzling fireworks display and Buhrman’s excellent homemade barbecue the night before, respectively. On the lake, with a playlist of true American music playing in the background, Scott R earned his bronze and learned his roll in kayaking, after an impressive first trip to the Tuckaseegee river just a couple days prior. In a classic plot twist, the nearby canoe class turned an unplanned swamp into an un-swamp lesson, with Henry B leading the way. Just across the dock, Wait M and the swimmers honed in their skills in the backstroke at swimming. But man was not made to live on water alone, and for those with a greater appreciation for the feel of solid earth, a climbing trip went out today to Chimneys. Where the rubber met the rock, Ford L, Sam R, Robert H, Mack F, Will C, and Matthew K learned what they needed to take their climbing to the next level. In backpacking, James B quietly but convincingly earned his bronze.

On a less physically challenging but more creatively intense note, guitar class was fun. Tyce P learned a whole new song, and Jordan R earned his bronze. It brings me peace to know that our own Timberlake Bob Dylans are well on their way. Moving up from the guitar hut, shots were heard round the camp from riflery, where Will S nailed a straight bullseye as part of an impressive one-inch grouping. Just above the range, things were heating up in soccer and team sports. In Ultimate Frisbee, Ben B led his team to a close victory, and Cole L and Tucker H  successfully improved their flick throws. Over on the soccer fields Luke H and others thrived under the leadership of expert goalkeeper Nick L. At the uppermost point of camp, iron sharpened iron in fencing class under the keen supervision of Drew J. Both Greyson F and Mauricio S earned bronze. Right next-door, the grapplers Logan M, Garrison M, Will M, Zach C, and Seth B learned the sprawl and double-leg takedown from seasoned veteran John H.

But, might I ask, what does it truly mean to live free? Is our greatest threat to freedom external, or does it lie inside our very selves? These questions and others did not need be answered, nay, even considered during free time today. Freedom rang loudly during the freedom free swim, with the blob and diving boards put to overtime duty. Kayak polo was simultaneously competitive and full of camaraderie, as teams led by Quinn M and Devin H, respectively, battled it out.

But all talk of patriotism runs dry without good American food to keep it going, of which there was no short supply today at camp. American Belgian waffles for breakfast, burgers and tater salad for lunch, and pork tenderloin with fried apples to close it all out. It makes my mouth water just to think of it again.

Nonetheless, all the energy of camp climaxes this evening on the ultimate battlefield that harkens back to the ones on which freedom was won all those years ago. Commando, the greatest of all water balloon wars, commences tonight up on Spencer’s Green. Two tribes, one winner. Another step in the broader journey for the claiming of the banner for either the Seminoles or Iroquois. As I write this, the boys are heading down from the counsel ring after the Little Chief ceremonies to partake in a quest that cannot be won by one man. The tribes must come together if they hope to attain a glory reminiscent of the one began when Mr. Revere hung a single lantern in the window, and Mel Gibson realized he must fight alongside his countrymen. Chiefs Nick L and Quinn M know that although the winner of a single activity such as Commando may be soon forgotten, the ultimate victory for the banner never dies.

 Counselor Cody