The True Gentleman at Camp Carolina

March 22nd, 2019

You may hear your son talk about “The True Gentleman” or “Old Man of the Mountain” on their return from Camp Carolina. But what exactly do these mean?

Both philosophies are intertwined into every single fiber of Camp Carolina and lived fully by all members of the CCB family.

The True Gentleman is a poem (you can read it here) that the CCB community, especially our Counselor Assistants (CA’s), live by. The poem written by John Walter Wayland is based on being a kind, considerate and forgiving person who thinks about their actions and how they will affect others. Living in a community, like a summer camp, can raise a variety of situations where others needs and feelings need to be put before your own. This can be a challenging skill to develop as a young man but a skill that we at Camp Carolina feel so strongly about as our goal is for campers to leave CCB with a little extra of the “True Gentleman” with them. How does this look exactly? Let’s say campers have a conflict with one another. One camper acts out in an emotionally hurtful manner. Their counselor, after the boys have calmed down, can meet with the camper, with a copy of the True Gentleman and discuss together what elements of the poem can be drawn upon to make a different decision, that is more thoughtful to the other person in the future. It is a really powerful tool for the counselors and campers to better themselves as people and to draw upon when faced with difficult situations. Many of our Alumni still mention referring to the poem when faced with their most difficult circumstances.

The Old Man of the Mountain is the program related to being The True Gentleman. Every Friday night the entire camp gathers at campfire, the most sacred place at CCB. We sing camp songs, tell trip reports, listen to Alfred’s stories and usually have a foreign counselor tell a “He Ain’t From Around Here” cultural based story. As the daylight fades the Old Man of the Mountain Award begins. The campers are selected by their cabin counselors and head counselors for this award, but it is truly a staff-wide collaboration. If a non-cabin staff member has a camper who is exceptionally considerate on their 3-day surf trip or morning hike etc they will let the cabin counselor of that camper know. This positive recognition and collaboration amongst staff positively role models teamwork, respect and collaboration to the campers. We also acknowledge that it is not an award of excellence, instead focuses on improvement and effort. Campers are at all different stages of development with different strengths and weaknesses, and the staff members focus is improvement and willingness to try as opposed to “being the best”. In such results and competitive based environment for children these days this is an incredibly powerful message we send to the boys-who may be stressed and anxious about continuously comparing and striving to be better than their peers. This self-reflection and focus on your own individual improvements is key to Camp Carolina.

During campfire Owner/Director Alfred presents the campers, on stage, in front of the entire community with their Old Man of the Mountain Award-either a wooden canoe paddle for first year campers, or a 2nd/3rd etc year brand burned into the paddle. As they walk up to the stage, the entire camp family cheers and claps as the camper gives Alfred a firm handshake and a look in the eye. The handshake and look in the eye is instilled into the Camp Carolina campers and shows mutual respect amongst the entire community. Alumni in their 60s are still contacting us to let us know when they meet someone new and shake their hand-Camp Carolina and it’s philosophy and what it taught them crosses their mind.

So now when your son mentions the True Gentleman or the Old Man of the Mountain you will have a little more insight to how important and valued these two elements of CCB mean to your son-today, tomorrow and in 50 years time.

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