Although we don’t have much time to follow the news from the outside world (almost anything that happens once you go back over the hill entering camp), we do know that Heat Advisories are in effect for a portion of the country, including parts of the Southeast.
Here at camp, we don’t need to look at a screen to see what the weather is – we’re outside living in the weather others are sitting in the A/C talking about!
We know it’s been a little hotter than normal for the end of June, but it’s about the same as most Augusts we’ve had here over the past 75 years, so it’s really nothing new. We drink water throughout the day and blue PowerAde at meals and Canteen. When we want or need to take a break, we sit in the shade or in front of a fan.
Because we’re here inside the Talladega National Forest under a canopy of trees surrounded by foliage, and we’re in the foothills of Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama, we average about 5-10 degrees cooler here than they do in Birmingham – or even just down the road in Anniston.
The living cabins and Rec Hall and Dining Hall and Little Theater and other buildings have attic fans that replace the inside air about once every 90 seconds, and we have ceiling fans in almost every place they’ll fit! From the cabins to the Dining Hall to the Rifle Range to the Canteen line to a giant 24-foot fan in the Horseback Arena and 4-foot barrel fans in the gym!
Way before we even had fans, or most people had air-conditioning, we had camp. So, since 1948, our most strenuous activities have been scheduled in the morning when it’s cooler. We get in the water multiple times each day – Skiing and Swimming in the morning and Free Swim and Waterfront inflatables in the afternoon. We have our Sports activities on the mornings we have Swimming and Skiing.
On the days we go to Horseback and Wilderness Skills, we have Riflery and Arts and Crafts in the shade and under the fan. And the waterfront activities are scheduled on those days as well, so we can get in the water in the afternoon even when we don’t in the Morning Program.
Campers and staff take their water bottles to activities, and we have water fountains and a dozen new water bottle fillers scattered throughout the camp with 60 degree well water pumped from underground mountain springs. At night, it has gotten into the low 70s even during this Advisory, and many mornings during the summer we wake up to temps in the 60s with campers and staff showing up at breakfast in sweatshirts.
We moved campouts to earlier in the week before temperatures were expected to peak, and it went down to 64 that night. On Thursday and Friday, campers hiked down to Salt Creek Falls and took a dip in the cool water on the hottest days of the term!
Our nursing staff and head counselors watch over the campers and the staff to help them stay hydrated and not overdo, and our Infirmary is air-conditioned in case someone has too much fun, does a little too much, and needs a break. We can’t tell you no one here has ever needed to slow down and get in the A/C and drink more, so we know we need to work to do all we can to help each other stay safe. For the camp, it’s “Safety. Fun. Instruction”. For the campers it’s “Learn stuff. Do things. Have fun!”
We’re in Alabama. It’s summertime. It gets hot. Just like it has every summer for 75 years.
Every one of those summers, we’ve been outside learning stuff, doing things, and having fun! Just like we are this summer.
And we are doing our best to take care of everyone here Among the Pines. Just like we have since 1948!