I’ve been remembering Cooper’s beginning-of-term Assembly speeches, which marked my summers as faithfully and predictably as a lighthouse beacon, but a darn sight funnier.
Most of us who made it past 4-year Figaro Flip Flop initiation could recite this speech from memory, imitating but never duplicating the voice. Regrettably, I’ll never do the humor justice: it was all in the delivery and you really did have to be there.
Words of wisdom
These days, while I chuckle, I find that speech holds wisdom both literal and metaphorical. Such as:
Find out what poison ivy looks like, ask your counselor, and stay ‘way from it.
Do we know, or do we need a counselor to show us, the subtle but perniciously itchy gossip, and maybe schadenfreude, that pop up in the most beautiful settings? Would that the effects only needed lye soap and calamine lotion to fix.
We don’t wear flip flops or go barefoot at Camp Alleghany, except to the shower. Show me a girl with a cut foot, I’ll show you a girl not having any fun.
Do we take enough care of the things that move us, and the people who keep us going? Do those activities get cut back — do we leave those relationships too exposed? Do we make do with flip-flop support for our soles and our souls, instead of investing energy in the people- and effort-equivalents of nice dry socks and solid shoes that will go the distance to Twin Tulips and back?
If you don’t visit this building out here [gesturing to the new johns] regularly, ask your hopper for some prune juice. If that doesn’t fix you up right quick, go to the Infirmary and tell ’em you need a dynamite pill.
Indeed! What old ideas should be dynamited loose? What should we long ago have forgiven, forgotten, and let slide?
Don’t you write on these tents. If you do, soon as it rains, the water will come right through. If we find your name on a tent, you will own that tent. We will have to charge your parents for a new one, and they won’t be happy that you are bringing home a tent that leaks.
This was not a myth, but seemed to have to do with the chemicals in Marks-a-Lot markers, the pre-Sharpie marker of choice. (Still, I often dreamed of having a Ghany tent in our back yard, leaks and all.)
If we take credit for something that is not entirely our doing, or only ours to share for a little while, we will take home a leaky reputation. And I know now that, we didn’t have to write our names all over camp (although it sure is fun to find them!), but we will never be forgotten by our camp sisters. Our voices still echo in the Play Hall and Vesper Hill whenever Ghany girls sing.
And, no matter how the current version of the PI and dynamite pill speech is delivered, Alleghany is still teaching all these lessons and more, packaged up with the crab soccer, bug juice, smell of gunpowder, and lantern light.
–Carson Gleberman, Alum, Current Staff, Parent, Camp Alleghany for Girls