What is tradition and how long does it take for a tradition to form? According to the dictionary, a tradition is a custom or belief that is passed down through the generations, that is done time after time, or year after year. How long it takes for a custom to become a tradition is difficult to say. It’s possible for something to be a tradition for so long we take it for granted.
What are Doublecreek’s traditions? I suppose the longest running tradition is saying the Pledge of Allegiance, then singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” This has been a tradition since day one. The Farmer/Rancher contest started the first summer. In 1972, Uncle Carter and Aunt Trudy started the Honor Camper tradition. Later, the tradition of the Nickel Dive was born. Every Monday and Friday, we sing the songs “Doublecreek” and “Bill Grogan’s Goat.”
Some traditions last, others fade away. We used to have horned toad races, but unfortunately that tradition disappeared along with the horned toad. We used to take campers to the Georgetown Auction Barn every Friday. It was fun to see the animals and watch the amazing auctioneers. The most fun was when Uncle Carter would occasionally buy an animal for Doublecreek -- usually a 3-day old calf. That tradition became impractical after the camp grew to the point where we were unable to all fit on one bus and the auction barn closed. I don’t know if the Green Monster was a tradition or institution, but many of us thought that bus was indestructible. Watching it being towed away was an indescribably sad sight.
This week’s theme is “Dancing with the Counselors (DWTC).” I don’t think it would be too big of a stretch to declare DWTC a new tradition. This week campers are paired with counselors to put together dance routines to perform at Sing Song. This is the fourth year of DWTC. Based on the number of campers and counselors who want to perform (Dan runs the selection process like a lottery), I think DWTC has definite staying power. We’ve seen some spectacular routines this week. Given the fact that some pairs have barely a day’s notice to get their act together, we have had some high quality performances. There have been some creative costumes, props, and best of all, some pretty good dancing. The counselors’ willingness to perform isn’t a surprise. Some counselors are multi-year veterans of DWTC. What amazes me are the campers who are willing to shed their inhibitions and perform in front of their peers.
There are two sides to DWTC. One side is the finished product we see at Sing Song; the other is the preparation. I’ve walked in on several pairs rehearsing their routines. You have a camper and a counselor working together to create something special. That is an interesting dynamic. They’re working, but they’re having fun. That is what DWTC is all about – having fun. And fun is what you get. The participants have fun, the audience has fun and after Sing Song everyone is smiling. I believe Doublecreek has a new tradition – a tradition which will not be taken for granted.
I can’t believe Spring Break is right around the corner. In June, I will start my 43rd year with Camp Doublecreek. I always enjoy looking through Doublecreek photo albums. It’s a pleasure to see pictures of campers and counselors from “way back when.” What is always so striking to me are pictures of the campus from the early years, especially the first summer. Doublecreek was created from a cotton farm and was almost barren – maybe two small trees and weeds. Uncle Carter worked tirelessly planting trees, fertilizing, watering, pruning and caring for his trees. Some trees didn’t make it, but many did. The soil at Doublecreek is shallow and rocky – it is a true testament to Uncle Carter’s persistence that Doublecreek is so green today.
Something else you’ll notice in the pictures is the campers having a great time. That first summer was a blast! I don’t know how, but we had horseback riding without the covered riding arena, a tennis court without a fence, a pool without a sidewalk, and no shade. But we did have Uncle Carter and Aunt Trudy. They cared for us with love and devotion. Through the years many things took root at Doublecreek – trees and lives.
I believe the years at Doublecreek resemble the growth rings you find in a tree trunk. People who study growth rings can tell what has happened environmentally (floods, droughts, etc.) by studying the rings. If they studied the growth rings of Doublecreek, I’m sure they would notice a severe disturbance during the spring of 2013. That’s when Uncle Carter left us. This was a difficult time for all of us, especially Aunt Trudy, Dan, and all of the counselors and staff. A year has passed. Another growth ring has joined the previous growth rings. Doublecreek continues to grow and we can all thank Uncle Carter for that. When I reflect on Uncle Carter and what he meant to all of us, I think of his memorial service and the comments on Facebook – so many of you were sharing memories and stories about Uncle Carter. A year later, feelings of grief and loss have ebbed away somewhat and are being replaced by thoughts of joy and gratitude when reflecting about Uncle Carter. I will never forget at the conclusion of the memorial service all 101 of the former campers and counselors assembling in the choir loft and singing “Bill Grogan’s Goat.” There were counselors still in high school joining with some of us who can get a senior citizens’ discount to sing a song so special to us because Uncle Carter taught it to us.
Growth rings do not reflect feelings – they are only a reference point for the chronological passing of time. Uncle Carter’s legacy is like the trees he planted at Doublecreek. Thanks to his watering, nurturing and care, the trees have deep roots and will always be there for us to appreciate.
“There is no question that the world is transitioning through a major paradigm shift; moving from an era where we wait for change to happen, towards a new age where we instead happen to change in advance.” Michelle M. Miller, CC
This in mind, I hear parents say all the time that “growing up today is not the same as when we were kids.” This thought begs the question, “how much room is left in this rapidly evolving world for a kid to develop with the same fundamental skills?” As I look ahead into the month of February, I can see a relevant event for our children to grow in a world that is always changing. Around the 14th of the month, every grocery store, florist, retail store and other commercial operations will be showered with the color red and hearts of all sizes. In celebration for what we call Valentine’s Day. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you would have to live in a hole to miss the fact that love is in the air. The encyclopedia says “The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.” Expression of love is one of the most basic interpersonal skills a child can develop. Some might argue that it is a good development for adults as well. I would contend that no matter how many things change, learning to express love is still a very relevant attribute for our children to learn and see demonstrated.
So as we see these decorations, cards and/or commercials for Valentine’s Day, take a little time to express love to all the kids in your life. We at Doublecreek promise that we will continue to love your camper(s) as they attend Spring Break and Summer Camp this year!
As 2014 begins and 2013 ends, it is only appropriate for us to reflect back on this last year and highlight some moments as a camp family.
- The most significant moment was March 12th, when our owner and leader, Uncle Carter, passed away. Inspired by his ideals, we began a movement for campers and counselors both present and past to join. The purpose of this movement, called "Team Carter," is to take the values that Uncle Carter instilled outside the gates of camp. Values such as respecting others, building responsibility, self-determination and self-esteem.
- Our summer camp sessions, without a doubt, showed "how much cool we have at camp." For the first time in Doublecreek history we did an overnight camping experience on selected weekends called "Rockhouse." The slide continued to be a highlight and was officially named "Carter's Cowabunga." The 2013 Mr. and Mrs. Doublecreek title was earned by Katie A. and Luckie. Campers found a new favorite game in Dynamite. Two new horses, Missy and Belle, joined our herd. We partnered with Kona Ice to raise $ 889 to send foster children from STARRY in Round Rock to Doublecreek.
- Other notable accomplishments for Doublecreek were winning the Austin Family Readers' Poll Award for the 9th straight year; Uncle Carter and Aunt Trudy being recognized as Legends in Camping by the American Camp Association (ACA) Southwest; and three new babies born into the Doublecreek family: Brooklyn Neal (1/17/2013), Chase Chuey (7/18/2013) and Jonah Gammage (12/22/2013).
- One of our longtime staff and leadership members, Deana Kirtley, moved to Snyder, Texas to pursue her teaching career. She has been a part of Doublecreek since 1995 and still will maintain a seat on the Advisory Committee.
- From this Director's perspective, 2013 was full of great memories, exceptional staff and continued fostering of camper relationships. We could not have asked for or hoped for a better camp season and look forward to 2014!
We are very excited to roll out a new campaign to all our Doublecreek Family called "Team Carter". As many of you may know, Uncle Carter (Owner and Founder) passed away in March of 2013. He left behind a truly inspirational legacy for all Doublecreekers to follow. Below are some thoughts from Aunt Trudy on what it means to be a part of "Team Carter":
"'Team Carter' is people working together to accomplish goals. It is directing their interactions towards touching other lives not just at camp but everywhere! It is putting others first always. It is loving unconditionally everywhere life takes you. Team Carter is about everything we say and do being put up against the measuring stick of self determination, broader moral perspectives and love."
Wow! The way that Aunt Trudy puts the meaning of Team Carter into words is exceptionally moving and radiant with love and empowerment! Understanding what being a part of Team Carter means in the perspective of the lovely Trudy motivates me to get up and help a neighbor with car trouble, give my last dollar to somone less fortunate, give a blanket to a brother or sister that is cold, and above all strive to become a better person. The warming energy that builds in my heart while reading Aunt Trudy's words has also managed to humble me enough to be reminded that there is always room for improvement as I reminisce on the infinite love and support that Uncle Carter so readily gave. And there it is! My personal thoughts on being a part of Team Carter is remembering to give back, remembering to remain humbled, remembering that there are brothers and sisters alike that are less fortunate, and above all remembering who inspired and taught me that these acts are what really count in life… Uncle Carter.
Join the Team Carter movement today! How?
It goes without saying he was special,
Never seeking great fortune and fame,
Touching thousands during his lifetime,
Uncle Carter was his name.
He never once met a stranger,
Delighted young and old with ease,
A twinkle in his eye, infectious laugh,
And a passion in life to please.
No one could love children more,
Enjoyed with a passionate heart,
Not surprising when he said to wife, Trudy,
A camp for children we must start.
Owning Round Rock land was a good thing,
Horses for the daughters were fun,
So why not combine this together,
In a setting that welcomed everyone.
The year was 1971,
And Doublecreek Farm got its start,
It grew beyond imagination,
With everything taught from the heart.
Riding, swimming, archery and ball,
Activities too numerous to mention,
His treatment of campers as if his own,
Was what got the parents attention.
Parents are busy at work he decided
And we have to get the kids to us.
The solution explained to trudy was
I'll just have to drive a bus.
But it wasn't an ordinary bus, oh no!
Filled with great music camp mode,
Campers bellowing out favorite songs,
Doublecreek buses were heard down the road!
And buses grew by the numbers
With so many young minds to fuel,
Camp is fine in the Summer, Carter said,
But we should probably start a school.
The best of all worlds were orffered,
To youth of all Round Rock,
Playing, growing, learning, living...
And it all came from good Christian stock.
We wonder what makes true legacy,
That passes down through all ages.
Lives are affected by great role models,
In vitally important youth stages.
Not only was a community nurtured,
But family watched in awe,
Children, grandchildren, just fell in step,
To keep alive the dreams they saw.
One child, when asked for memories,
Mentioned learning to swim while frightened,
And ordering from that famouf food truck,
Independence certainly heightened.
Best stories come from good neighbors,
As only they can relate,
Carter bought animals for kids to enjoy,
But there was the end-of-summer fate.
At camps end the animals weren't needed,
The had served great purpose, but now...
The neighbors farm grew constantly larger
With several goats and even a blind cow.
We remember this man of many seasons,
Who indeed, found fortune and fame,
Thousands were touched by his Godly ways,
Uncle Carter was his name.
Some people leaving footprints on our hearts
And our lives are never the same.
We all have been Blessed as we knew such a man,
Uncle Carter was his name.
Last night was a very special event for Carter and Trudy and the rest of the Doublecreek family as they were honored for Camp Doublecreek. Carter and Trudy showed up to a City Council meeting for the city of Round Rock under the pretenses that they were going to be discussing water. They were greatly surprised to hear the official proclamation of Camp Doublecreek Day. April 27 has been declared, by Mayor Alan McGraw, Camp Doublecreek Day. What an INCREDIBLE honor. When the camp first started in 1970, Carter would drive to Austin to pick up campers who were excited for camp. In 1972 he and Trudy were able to purchase two new busses, and 1974 was the first year that the camp had a profit averaging 100 campers per week. Now, there are nearly 325 campers per week and we couldn’t be more proud of the legacy that Carter and Trudy have established. Doublecreek is a place where campers can come and be themselves… and have a blast doing it. Thank you, Carter and Trudy, for Camp Doublecreek.
Well folks, it’s finally happened. The Camp Doublecreek attire has spoken up, and Sir T-shirt will be going on an adventure. Where, you may ask? Well, that’s the fun of it…no one knows exactly. The only information he has given us is that he will be travelling by bus and horseback surprising friends with a “Generations of Fun” visit. Following Sir T-shirt is a synch. Just check the Camp Doublecreek facebook page, and you can stay informed on his exciting escapade. What to do in the meantime? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sir-T-shirt said, once he’s done with his adventure, he would like to know where your Camp Doublecreek T-shirt has been. So, as you wait in suspense for his next appearance, start taking your own adventures. Pictures at the beach, the park, birthday parties, even in the mud, that’s what he’s looking for. Once his journey is over, you’ll be able to share your photos on the facebook page, and he’s excited to see where they’ve been! No Camp Doublecreek shirt? No worries! We’ll be selling some for the month of April, so be sure and join the fun! Until then…stay tuned…Sir T-shirt promises entertainment for all.
This last Monday (April 18th) I had the opportunity to participate for a fourth year in the Children at Heart Golf Marathon. This event is very unique in nature. Just placing the words golf (Fun) and marathon (Work) side by side makes one scratch their head on how this could play out. The easiest way to explain the Golf Marathon is to say we (my team) played 100 holes of golf in one day! Yes one day! Starting at 7:00am and finishing at 8:02pm this momentous achievement was completed for the great cause of raising money for the families and children at the Texas Baptist Childrens Home. We at Camp Doublecreek were glad to be a hole sponsor and contributor towards this great event. As the soreness in my muscles reminds me of this accomplishment both monetarily and physically I am proud to say the cause is worth it.