Trip Stories: "Big Man by Surprise"

The trip stories blog series will feature hand written accounts of campers on the trail. Camper Ethan B. writes this one, recounting his first trip of second session and his experience as a “Big Man,” a term reserved for the older campers who are not only expected to carry and stern a canoe, but also assist the counselor on the trip. It’s a chance for them to pick up some responsibility and learn about what it means to be a leader. Of course, the circumstances of Ethan’s story are different than usual…

My three day camp to camp trip with Evan, Francis, and Danny was the first trip during which I was obligated to be the big man. The role of the big man comes with age and experience, making one the right hand man to the counselor, almost a second counselor. Tasks that must be performed by the big man include but are not limited to: Cooking, leading younger or less experienced campers, navigating, sterning and carrying a canoe, and taking initiative when it comes to the tasks of the trail.

This role came as a surprise to me. Due to the intended big man becoming ill, I was thrust onto this trip as the only camper available with the capabilities required, yet untested, for the big man role. Our first day quickly tested my abilities by sending us over Murphey’s Portage, a 3/4 mile behemoth that challenged my canoe carrying capabilities to the utmost extent.

The following day, I prepared lunch, which proved to be a very simple task in the shadow of the previous day’s portages. On the last day, Francis (a first year camper) and I navigated the rest of our group back to camp, ending my first big man experience on the trail. Reflecting back, I feel as though it was an essential part of my growth here at camp- exhausting, yet rewarding.