Texas, Part 3

Opening day was quite an event. The gates opened at 2pm Sunday for the start of Girl’s camp. By 10am there were already five families lined up outside the gate, waiting to get in. By 2pm they were pushing at the gate, chanting “let us in!”

I shot interviews with the campers about coming back to camp and with the parents explaining why they send their kids to Camp Fern every year. Some of these families are 3rd and 4th generation campers here.

The environment here is not good for cameras; it’s dusty, hot, wet, and there are a bunch of kids running around. The camera I’m using is on at least its second season, based on the previous wear and tear. I’m glad this thing is solid-state, I have no idea how VHS or MiniDV cameras survived more than a season here.

Hey, look! A cactus!

A big part of this camp are the tribes that the campers are in. There are four tribes, two for boys and two for girls. The tribes compete in a bunch of activities, the first of which is War Games. When it was described to me, I imagined it as flag football. The girls tuck a colored piece of cloth into their back pocket. One tribe is red, the other blue. The goal is to take the other girl’s tag, thus winning your team points. So it’s kind of like flag football.

Except it’s not at all.

It’s a free-for-all of girls throwing each other to the ground and wrestling around in the dirt. The older girls get really intense about it, it’s closer to flag-MMA than flag football. The girls and their families get really intense about tribes. The tribe drawings were at 8pm. The office phone was ringing off the hook at 8:01 with parents asking what tribe their girl was in. Since many of these kid’s parents went to camp here, getting in the same tribe is important. The tribe games don’t stop there, though. There’s two more War Games, War Canoe, Tug of War, and a lot more.

Besides the tribe warfare, there’s all the good old camp standard, archery, riflery, ropes course, swimming, water skiing, canoeing, tennis, basketball, volleyball, frisbee, horseback riding, crafts, and nature. I am assisting with two periods of nature in addition to shooting. We’ve identified trees, eaten plants, and cooked pizza over a camp fire.

In three short week the girls will be gone, replaced by the all-boys session. I have been told I haven’t seen anything yet…

About Edward Carlson

Film and television Director of Photography working in Los Angeles, CA.
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