by Henry Heyburn, Assistant Camp Director Independence Day 2014 began like almost any other day at Chewonki although this morning we went straight from our cabins into the dining hall as the trailing edge of Tropical Storm Arthur swept by. According to Chewonki’s Head Naturalist, Doc Fred, the rain gauge at the bridge leading to the Allen Center recorded 3.25” of rainfall from early afternoon on July 4th until the storm passed at approximately 9:30 am on July 5th. During the morning I spent some time in the woodshop where a group of campers were making canoe paddles. Most are in the middle stages of this project; they are using block planes, spokeshaves and sandpaper to get the proportions of the handle, shaft and blade just right. Each work area had a pile of fresh shavings on the floor beneath the vise. Some campers will be able to use these paddles on their cabin wilderness trips. After leaving the woodshop I stopped briefly in the adjacent boat shed to see how the Boat Builders were coming along. This group of 15-17 year olds in the Wilderness Trips Program is building sea kayaks and in two weeks will depart from Chewonki’s waterfront for a two-week journey along the down east coast. After rest hour we began a series of activities in celebration and recognition of July 4th. Immediately following rest period we began a field day with games and activities on the lower field and at the waterfront. By this time the sun was beginning to burn through and one could feel high-pressure building. One activity I enjoyed was the Booth of Knowledge staffed by Head Sailing Instructor and middle school social studies teacher Brendan Rogan. Brendan was rarely stumped as he fielded any and all questions relating to history and culture. How many flags have flown over Texas? Ask Brendan. Field Day was followed by General Swim, appetizers and then a wonderful cookout in the quad. Just when everyone thought things couldn’t get any better, counselors arrived at each cabin area with plates full of strawberry, whipped cream sponge cake prepared by the kitchen staff. It was really good. Following dinner we rang a bell and headed to campfire circle for Saturday Night Campfire. If you’ve never experienced this event, it is an evening of music, skits, readings, laughter and community where many campers have stood and performed in front of a large audience for the first time. Some, although probably not all, campers were wondering why we would schedule a fingernail inspection on the lower field at 9:15 on Saturday night. It was simply a ruse to assemble everyone for the evening’s finale, a fireworks exhibition prepared by members of the Support Staff. As minutes were called and campers settled into their cabins a trio of staff went cabin to cabin performing a rendition of Amazing Grace. All in all we have had a long but really wonderful day. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up a little later although some will begin the day with a bird walk or a polar bear swim while others are still sleeping. I could not help but be reminded today of what a terrific group of campers, counselors and support staff we have. I’m certain everyone will sleep well. A belated strong and memorable Independence Day to all.