Delivered on demand by the HSRAA board, the weather was absolutely perfect for the 19th Annual HSRAA Reunion held at Camp Horseshoe on July 7th. The atmospheric conditions, being unseasonably cool in the high 70s, assisted with the great turnout of approximately 110 registrants for the yearly festivities.
The theme of the reunion was "By Campfire's Light Old Tales Retold", and several speakers including Ernie Heegard, Andrew Coe, and HSRAA Chairman John Kemmerer regaled the audience with their memories of campfires at Horseshoe over the years. This particular theme was chosen, in part, to coincide with the HSRAA's speculative future project to rehabilitate Achgeketum circle, with possible facets of the endeavor including additional benches for the adult seating area and improved rainwater management.
As part of the recent additions to the reunion program, a few participants competed for the coveted Masters Challenge trophy. The Masters Challenge, hosted by the Campcraft area, is a series of pioneering challenges including a heaving bar toss and knot relays. Campcraft Director Carter Miller announced after dinner that the 2018 winner was Mike D'Antonio.
Speaking of dinner... Tony Wetzel and Dick Bensing once again cooked up another fabulous steak dinner, accompanied by delicious Amish potato salad and treats from the Camp Horseshoe kitchen, including apple turnovers.
HSRAA Secretary Matt Griffin introduced the new HSRAA Scholarship for current camp staff members, with scholarships going to 1 staffer from each HSR camp based on an application and selection process.
VP of Camping Pete Motel delivered some remarks about the reforestation project conducted by Octoraro Lodge 22 (via sacrifice by Tom Murphy), as well as his optimism for Family Scouting - set to debut at HSR next year - being a success for all patrons of CCC.
Vice Chairman Damon Sinclair announced the recipients of the HSRAA Staff Member of the Year Award for both Camp Horseshoe and Camp Ware, with Richard "Booker" Gardner being the Horseshoe recipient, and William "Squigs" McGuigan being the recipient for Ware. Congratulations Booker and Squigs!
The Camp Horseshoe staff, led by Camp Director Dr. David Mellinger, provided a musical tribute to camp patrons who passed in the last year, including Karl "Moose" Winsch, Wayne Woodward, Bob Lorgus, Jimmy Jordan, and Ken Fegley. The musical composition was Beethoven's "Adagio Cantabile", delivered beautifully by flute and organ. Ernie Heegard also provided his musical talents at the end of the reunion, singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in different musical times and styles.
After a quick business meeting with the election of the 2018-2019 HSRAA board members, many alumni and their families retreated to Achgeketum circle to watch in wonder at the pageantry of "The Legend of Cholena" and the recognition ceremony thereafter. Wedged in-between, the Octoraro Lodge 22 commenced a Vigil Honor Ceremony where 5 new Vigil Honor members were eventually bestowed their recognition the following morning.
The majesty and mystery of the HSR campfire is one of the things most fondly remembered by all who attend, and the Camp Horseshoe staff admirably delivered to the high standards of the tradition. "Old Tales Retold" is more than just a line in the lyrics of our locally-famous "The Loop of the Octoraro Bend", it is the encapsulation of a waning tradition, that of the oral history. Whether it be through pageants at Achgeketum or ghost stories at individual campsites, HSR is rich in tradition of passing on the fantastic and the unbelievable through tall tales.
Next year's reunion theme will be decided in the coming months, and for the 20th Annual Reunion you can expect some serious pomp and circumstance, but looking back at this past reunion let us remember that the campfire is a big reason why you "can't get the Horseshoe dust out of your moccasins".