About once every session, regional talent scouts pay Camp Voyageur a visit. Why, you may ask? Well, throughout the years, word has gotten out that we put on a radio show, featuring talents perfect for radio entertainment like miming, martial arts, and juggling. In fact, these radio shows have become so popular that we've begun attracting quite the characters, such as celebrity news hosts Donny Frontback and Clint Matthews. As these hosts put it, "we have a valuable partnership with Camp Voyageur where we use their audience to further our own careers with no regard for the actual content of the show." Not surprisingly, the show was frequently interrupted by various "breaking news," consisting of a series of dramatic pauses and expressions from the news hosts with seemingly impossible news stories that were clearly being made up on the spot.
Despite the very egoistic, confident news hosts, the radio show did not begin according to plan. In fact, nothing did, for as soon as the switch was flipped and we went "live," all of the teleprompters broke. Flabbergasted by a series of technological failures, the radio hosts had a Bill O'Reilly-level melt down, getting progressively more upset with their Australian technician, "Dingo" (played by counselor Ethan Shaffron because he had a somewhat decent Australian impersonation).
In spite of all that was going on, the radio show still achieved what it always somehow does: it makes every camper right at home on stage. Seemingly trivial talent acts are blown out of proportion with applause, whooping and screaming from the audience. Campers from each cabin will eventually make an appearance on stage together, showing everyone their "cabin skits." Counselors work to engage every single camper, and the "local talent scouts" are particularly adept at sniffing out individual talents such as piano playing, juggling, and yes, even spit bubble blowing.
As the event progresses, and the Mess Hall heats up from all the warm bodies, the night culminates in a couple classic songs performed by counselors. It seems to be the secret mission of a handful of counselors every summer to put together some kind of musical parody of a popular classic, and of course, this was achieved several times throughout the summer. No one really knows when they find the time to create these parodies though. One theory is that they spend months outside of the camp season hunched over at their desks, scribbling away at various parodies until they're perfected. We'll probably never know...
At the end of a long day, the tradition of putting on a radio show (referred to by many as Wandering ELK Radio) is certainly a proven one. Many of the personalities around camp are highlighted in a way that plays to their strengths and builds confidence in front of their peers. Kids who wouldn't dream of doing something on stage in front of an audience of 50 people are suddenly excited to do so! It all boils down to the strong shared experiences kids have at camp. Spending weeks on a wilderness adventure with their peers fosters a kind of group interaction that promotes and really accelerates personal growth. And even though we see this every year, it still seems to surprise us when we see kids step outside of their comfort zone and perform on stage. Even the counselors tasked with organizing this event always go above and beyond, planning weeks ahead of schedule to make the show unforgettable.
Entertainment of this quality without the use of electronics is a rare thing to find these days. We're fortunate to have such rich traditions. Veteran staff and campers will often remember with amazing clarity the shows of previous summers, recalling even the names of the characters running the show and some of the skits that were performed. And you'd think that after more than 60 years, we'd have seen it all... well, "CVNN" was certainly a first, and hopefully not the last of it's kind. Until next year!