General swim continued for an hour during which the buddy call occurred two more times. When general swim was declared ‘over’ for the day, the campers lined up on the beach to be checked out (I guess to make sure no one lost their buddy since the last buddy call) and then were offered an afternoon snack of grapes and some (indeterminately flavored) kool-aid.
My three kids noticed the grape station and they got into the back of the line so that they could get some too. They returned to the beach with their hands full.
“Well that was fun, wasn’t it?” I asked the kids. They all smiled and nodded as they sat on their towels and ate their grapes.
“I wanna come to the generous swim everyday,” my eldest daughter proclaimed.
“Why do they call it generous swim anyway?” my other daughter asked.
“Probably cuz they give out grapes.”
“Oh, no!” I laughed. “It is called general swim. General. The whole camp swims. That’s why it is called general swim.”
After finishing up their snacks we were trying to decide what to do for the next hour or so before dinner. Our discussion was interrupted by the sound of the voices of about a dozen campers. These boys, of various shapes and sizes, were jogging down the main road while singing a military cadence in unison.
“Up from a sub 60 feet below. When we hit the surface, we’ll be ready to go. Side-stroke, back-stroke, swim to the shore…”
They continued jogging onto the beach and over to the picnic table. Following in behind was Muddy and Bobbo. The group was busy taking off their shirts and shoes and putting their towels on the table.
“What are you guys doing here?” my daughter asked Muddy rather brazenly.
“We are having our club meeting here today.” Muddy politely told her and then turned over his shoulder to shout to his group of campers, “Who are we?”
“The Navy Seals! Hooyah!” the group enthusiastically called back.
“Oh wow! That’s cool!” My eyes widened in surprise.
“Can we stay and watch Mum?” My daughter asked. I nodded.
“What are you guys gonna do on the beach?” I asked.
“Well on the agenda today the troop will be practicing jumping from a helicopter into the lake, then swimming under water 350 feet while holding their breath, without releasing a single bubble, and then rising to the surface in complete silence.”
I looked beyond Muddy and noticed Bobbo applying green and brown paint from arts and crafts onto the boys faces and chests. Very quickly Bobbo was creating a small army of young Seal recruits.
“That sounds like a very full agenda.” I said as I noticed that both the counselors were sporting camouflage pants, army boots, and berets.
“Yes ma’am, and then after that we will have a game of sink the Bismark too!” And with that Muddy gave me the thumbs up and turned clapped his hands together. “OK guys. We need to get ready for our high altitude jump! Fall in!”
The troops began to line up side by side as Bobbo finished smearing paint on the last few soldiers. They stood in a fairly straight line, saluting, as Muddy and Bobbo walked up and down the line.
“Looking sharp soldiers! Looking sharp! At ease gentlemen! You have been silently recruited to the Seals because your talents and bravery have not gone unnoticed. It is because of you, Navy Seals, your bravery, that our fellow countrymen sleep in peace!” Muddy was laying it on pretty thick, but these boys were eating it up.
“Sir, yes, sir!” They responded.
“Today we are doing a deep water combat swim exercise. We need to march out to the helicopter pick up point. Remember, gentlemen, to keep your heads DOWN when you approach the helicopter blades. I don’t want to have to call a medic.”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
And with that they marched in single file out onto the L shaped dock and ducked their heads as they approached the far end. The boys then crouched and huddled close together as, I imagine, the helicopter was taking them to their destination. Soon, they one by one stood up and did a pencil dive into the deep end of the water, holding their noses as they went.
“Stack yourselves men!” Bobbo called to them. “Stay close! These cold arctic waters can kill a man in 45 seconds, so stay close! That’s it. That’s it.”
This was probably the most amazing demonstration ever! And that is saying a lot after the whole general swim thing! These counselors knew their stuff and they were not breaking character for anything and the camper were completely absorbed. The silent surfacing in the shallow end was probably the most fun for myself and the kids as we were enlisted as judges.
Finally after much practicing of the 350 feet (ummm…more like 10 feet) of underwater swimming to pick up submerged torpedoes (rocks painted green), it was time for ‘Sink the Bismarck’.
As it turned out, Sink the Bismarck, is a game played by two teams. Each team has a canoe. Each player wears a lifey (life jacket) up side down (legs through the arm holes — this was covered in my entry of 12/10/12). The whole point of the game is basically to capsized the other team’s canoe. There are no other rules that I noticed. There was lots of swimming, yelling, pushing and shoving. It sure looked like a lot of fun…and exhausting…very exhausting.
When club Navy Seal was over, the campers gathered up on the beach again for a final roll call. Each of them counted off. Muddy told the campers that tomorrow they could expect to try to complete 80 push-ups in two minutes and a timed obstacle course. They would also work on small unit tactics and land navigation. I had no idea what any of it meant, but it sure sounded legit. Bobbo dismissed them after congratulating them on successfully completing their exercises.
I commented to one of the younger campers as he passed by. “Wow. That looked pretty intense, but lots of fun, eh?”
“Ya.” he responded. “It’s pretty cool. Especially since Muddy is a retired Navy Seal and all. He is teaching all of the basics that he learned years ago.”
“Oh. I had no idea!”
“Ya. He keeps is pretty much double top secret.”
“Well you did good work out there today, soldier. Thank you for your service.” I gave him a little salute.
The little guy looked at me and smiled. He was not sure how to take me. I casually glanced over at Muddy.
Muddy, who was all of (what?) nineteen, had overheard this whole conversation, and was standing at ease with his hands behind his back as he supervised the campers packing up. He turned to me and gave me the tiniest of winks.
God I loved this place.