In my usual manner, I will be talking about my trip, but backwards. I will start off with the most recent part and work my way back.
I have known Jimmy Sawgrass since we went to JLT at Camp Lanoche in 1979. (You Scouters will know what I am talking about.) Then again through the OA and summer camp staff. He is one of the people who got me involved with the Seminole War living history from the Dade Battle Reenactment in 1985. So I have to say with confidence that I know him better than most people.
Jimmy has gone full-time on the living history, education, and showmanship circuit for almost the past 20 years. He is generous to everyone. When I visited him in the past, he fed me and gave me a place to stay when I asked for neither, but that is the kind of person he is. You will know a person from their actions and merits, and you can easily see it with him.
I say these nice things about Jimmy because he is a true human being. 10 years ago he was hounded by these activists and protesters who have no idea who he is. I do know Jimmy, and can vouch for him. He is eastern Muskogee Creek descent, and his grandparents are listing on the eastern Creek roster. So where are these protesters today? Most of them have died, and probably from general meanness. They were ugly, nasty people; karma caught up with them, and they reaped what they had sewn. And they never could do educational programs or living history anyway, so they are not even worth mentioning any further.
Anyway, this is the second year that Jimmy has done the Native American program at camp. Other camps tried to hire him to do the same, but this is Jimmy's home and where he grew up, so he feels that he is among family. Camp Lanoche is his home as much as any place.
Now Jimmy's son is taller than him, and one of the best powwow dancers I have seen. You should see all the girls that surround him after a hoop dance.
The old Rotary Lodge in camp was once the dining hall. With the new dining hall built, Jimmy has converted the Rotary lodge into his museum. He also has a library here with an impressive book & video collection.
The museum has things like peace medals, and different type of aboriginal pottery, and making use of native materials for fishing baskets or the bark cabins. A display of bow and arrows and muskets.
The summer camp has changed a lot since I worked on summer staff. But it has many good changes. Larger staff, more programs, and better facilities. Sure it is not like the past or the camp that I remember, but it doesn't have to be. I really enjoyed my couple of days there.
Jimmy has a program that I wish they had when I was a kid there. And Thursday night I saw a half dozen kids moved to tears. Tears of joy, I believe. That is not easy to do with teenagers. I don't think any of the other programs in camp reached the kids at such an emotional level. I will be something they will not forget. Jimmy has affected these kids in such a positive way, and I will guarantee that it will have long-lasting, positive results.
My one criticism about camp is that even though the staff is three times larger than when I worked there, I don't see the cohesiveness. I don't see them working together as much, or supporting outside their different areas when there are camp wide events. Maybe I didn't get a correct picture from only being there for two days. Jimmy did a good job, but would have really needed help from other staff when he did his Thursday night show. Apparently the rest of the staff gets Thursday night off--we didn't when we were on staff, and there are other programs going on that need the support. Maybe instead of giving everyone off, they should rotate days off during the week. But, this is just my opinion.