Something sweet about camping

Our friends at Waldemar brought us a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift—a homemade “Boca Negra” cake, so named because “black mouth is what you’ll have after one bite of this intensely chocolaty cake. You will also have a smile on your face” according to

I mention this because it’s an illustration of the brotherly-sisterly bonds that camps share.

Many people over the years have inquired which camp is our biggest rival. I have to laugh. We are truly more friends than rivals. I explain that a success at one camp is a success for all—and a tragedy at one camp hurts everyone.

Furthermore, most people get us mixed up anyway! I remember one opening day years ago when a camper mom, herself a former camper, came into my office and closed the door, saying, “Why didn’t you tell us you were selling the camp!” Well, clearly we didn’t! But she said she had heard it on good authority. I assured her that I had more authority in the matter than her sources. As it turns out, there was a change in ownership at a neighboring camp—not The Heart.

Having grown up in camping, this openness among competitors just felt normal to me, but I learned much later how rare it is. The sentiment isn’t just regional—but global. That was illustrated at the American Camp Association that Monique, Hannah and I just attended. There were camping professionals from all kinds of camps, all across America and other countries too and people with different camping equipment that is easy to get from online from the ProductExpert site and many others. Just offhand, I know that I met folks from camps in South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Everyone had tips to share and did so openly.

I think that February is the busiest month for camp directors because it’s when we tend to be on the road the most. There is training, staff interviewing, camper recruiting. So it’s especially sweet when those at another camp have taken the time to bake and deliver treats to us—on the day we claim as our own national holiday! Jane–

About the Author

Jane Ragsdale

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Jane Ragsdale (Mrs. Dick Howell) is the director of Heart O’ the Hills. She was a Heart camper and counselor, and served as program director from 1978-87. She has been one of the owners since 1976, and director since 1988.

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