It truly feels like summer now, and the Friday Water Carnival couldn’t have been held on a better day! After a fun-filled day at Project Adventure, the brave CITs weathered the rains of Thursday evening in their all-weather tents, and even managed to get in some shut-eye before the drying sun of Friday morning dawned and they were able to enjoy a breakfast of griddled pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, yogurt, and fruit a la chefs Pete and Kelly. All in all, a very full day and night for the energetic, inexhaustible CITs.

Sewataro has always been a balance of traditions and innovations, and traditions always start out as innovations. Perhaps the most important Sewataro tradition of all over the many years of camp, the Green Gizmo, began back in the 1980’s when Rogue, who had not yet changed his name from Roger, initiated it. Rogue and John Fitzsimmons, along with other Fitzsimmons’ siblings and Rogue’s sister Jane—who later became a Supervisor—were counselors together. And Alba, with her extraordinary insight, hired Fitz and Rogue despite the fact that both had terrible interviews. Fitz, for example, when asked by Alba why he wanted to work at camp, said he liked the idea of hanging around with friends and getting paid for it. Oops! As for Rogue, Alba couldn’t get more than two word answers from him to her questions. But when she talked to Rogue’s reference, his scoutmaster, she was told, “Do not let this young man go. Hire him, and I promise you that you won’t be sorry.” She did, and she wasn’t.

Recently Rogue wrote a six-page epistle to our new Gizmo-master, Doug Hamilton, on the history and importance of the Gizmo in camp. It’s worth noting that Doug was a camper for three years when Rogue was at camp, and he reveres Rogue as his inspiration. In the letter, Rogue recalled that Alba did not let him initiate the Gizmo when he first asked to do it, but he was persistent and after a few years, she relented. Many years later, after the tradition had been well-established, we did a survey and learned that the Gizmo was the most popular feature of camp.

For those newcomers among you, who have not yet had the Gizmo explained in detail by your campers, it is simply a round washer that has been painted green. It is passed “surreptitiously” (a word that is essential to the understanding of its magic) among counselors throughout the day, but the last pass must occur before everyone arrives at the area for Closing Exercises in the afternoon. The Gizmo-master at the appropriate time, says to the campers, “It’s time to ask that question.” And the whole camp responds, “Who’s got the Green Gizmo?” At that point, the Gizmo-master, who in Rogue’s description is part M.C. and part illusionist (Rogue was also a magician), traces the passes that have been made during the day until it ends up with a surprised counselor searching his or her backpack or shoes or cap for the object. The GM then calls that counselor to come forward to the front of the stage to answer a trivia question.

Rogue has passed on an elaborate formula for Dougie to follow in both selecting questions and doling out consequences. If the counselor answers the question correctly, he/she then picks someone else to take the consequences, which vary day to day from wearing your pajamas to camp the next day, to saluting every tribe who says “Green Gizmo” to you the next day, to whistling a song with water in your mouth. If the answer is wrong, the GM says, “You have answered…” and the whole camp says in unison, “Incorrectly.” And the penalty is awarded. If a counselor gets three strikes, i.e., three missed questions on three separate occasions, the consequence is the feared Sewataro Cannon, which is a whipped cream pie in the face before the whole camp. All this is given and taken in very good spirits. As the Rogue concluded his letter to Doug, “Have fun with it. Too many people grow out of the fun of it all. Embrace it while you can. Some kids don’t grow up. Some have the chance to come back. Keep the magic alive for as many years as you can. You may not have the opportunity again.” By the way, today was our first Cannon of the summer, and the wonderful Hannah Weiss was the light-hearted recipient. Thanks to Hannah – and all of our counselors – for being such good sports!

Tagged with