This campout also always includes the initiation/hazing of the incoming tribe chiefs. This is frequently a semi-disaster, ‘cuz the idea is to embarrass/humiliate the guys, which is supposed to be fun, but it sometimes just comes out as mean. I remember once when Geneva started crying watching them turn a guy into an ice cream sundae, and it wasn’t even me.
This time, my buddy Todd proposed that we “test their bravery” by making them sing in public. And, rather than bring in a karaoke machine (which was a disaster 2 or 3 years ago), I would be the musical accompaniment. Like the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”, but it was “So You Think You Can Sing Like Keith”. This was genius because (a) my songs are already transposed into a more-singable by normal (non-tenor) guys key, (b) unlike a tape, I could (try to) follow where they were going, timing-wise, and (c) if they got really lost, I could help out over my head mic.
And it did work out really well. We had 2 or 3 essentially tone-deaf guys, but I helped them out so nobody completely crashed and burned, and some of the guys were pretty OK on their own. None of them were really ready to step up and take my now-vacant position as Nation Music Guy, but it was fun for everybody, and no permanent damage to any of the chiefs.
There was also a nice graduation ceremony for the girls (like Acacia) that are leaving Princesses. Since she’s moving up to Trailmates, we aren’t really leaving the program exactly, but we are leaving a lot of friends behind, and I won’t be along to play at the Princess campfires anymore, except…
I’d really hate to lose those campfire times — they all seem to love having me, and I surely love playing for all those appreciative little girls. So, I made it clear that I’d be happy to come back and play at future campfires, as long as they’re at reasonably close-by campsites, and my calendar permits. I really just meant that I would drive out and play, and go home again, but I talked to one of the chiefs and he thinks that they could/should pay my way to the event, and have me (and Acacia) there the whole time. That’s pretty generous, especially since he was talking about the expensive snow camp type events. We’ll see what happens.
On Sunday morning we have the more serious ceremony, “graduating” the old chiefs, where the nation chief talks about what a great job each guy did in planning an event, or doing his Council job. I’m on the Council as the Web Guy, and he hit on that briefly, but mostly talked about the music job I do. This was met by a standing ovation from the nation, which was pretty nice. I stepped up to the mic and made a little speech, thanking them (or, more likely, their predecessors) for helping instill the courage in me to get up and sing, which led to my “career” in the coffee shops.
I also confessed that I had never bought the “required” leather Princess Vest, on which the event patches are sewn. The girls each have one, but I just kind of collected the patches, with nothing to do with them. So, earlier in the week, I bought a 20-foot piece of rope, which was just long enough to hot-glue the patches to, in chronological order, with a small space between them. I folded the “garland” up and wrapped it in some paper, and while I was talking, I had the girls grab one end each, and walk apart, stretching the rope across the front of the stage. The effect was pretty stunning — I heard a lot of “amazement” noises as I talked about this being what 10 years’ worth of patches looks like.
It really is quite sad for me to have to leave the Princess program — even though we’re moving up to Trailmates which is almost the same thing. It’s been a really good device for keeping me from letting the girls’ childhoods slip by even more than they have anyway. But, hey, they grow up — there’s no stopping it.