“Line up recruits! Two straight lines,” Muddy yelled. The fourteen boys dropped their towels on the picnic table and walked over towards Bobbo and Muddy in the center of the beach.
Patrick, to our surprise, ambled over to Muddy and tugged on his shirt.
“Can I please join?” He looked up at Muddy with wide innocent eyes. Muddy looked down at him and grinned. The sight of the two melted my heart. Muddy looked at me for permission. I shrugged and nodded. Let’s see what the little guy could do. I pulled a magazine out of my backpack. I wasn’t going anywhere for the next hour!
“Young man, do you think you have what it takes to be an elite Navy Seal?” Muddy asked him.
“Uh huh,” Patrick responded.
“Then line up on the end there, recruit.”
“OK, thanks!” The little guy, grinning, ran over towards Derek, a Bear Hut camper who was about three feet taller than my son. Derek smiled and waved him over.
“Do you girls want to join?” I whispered to my daughters, sitting on their beach towels fully engrossed in the activities.
They both turned to look at me over their shoulders with looks of distaste and shook their heads. “I’d like to just watch, Mum,” Sarah explained.
“Me too,” I smiled.
“At attention recruits! Chin up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in!” Muddy ordered and with that fifteen boys stood ramrod straight and sucked in their bellies. Patrick followed suit, still grinning from ear to ear.
“Oh yeah!” Himself leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Welcome to Hell Week boys!” I snickered.
Bobbo walked along the two lines, correcting as he went, while Muddy started his introductory remarks.
“Welcome to basic training Navy Seals!” Muddy barked, sounding exactly like a drill Sargent. “During this week you will learn the skills required of a Navy Seal so that you may dominate in the sea, air, land. It is the toughest military training in the world. I survived it and so can you. Are you ready, recruits?”
The recruits responded with a cacophony of “Ya,” and “Yes” and “OK”.
“Not good enough soldiers! You will respond with a ‘Sir, yes sir.” Muddy bellowed. “Do you understand?”
“SIR, YES SIR!” The campers responded with gusto.
“Much better. Now at ease soldiers.” Muddy directed as Bobbo stepped in
beside Muddy and demonstrated the ‘at ease’ stance and the fifteen recruits copied him. “During the week we will work on your physical conditioning, combat swimming, land navigation, rappelling, teamwork and mental tenacity. Today’s activities will focus on improving your strength. Are you ready recruits?”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“Drop and give me twenty!” Muddy yelled.
Bobbo dropped down onto all fours and displayed proper push ups and the recruits attempted to follow his lead with various levels of success. Muddy slowly walked around the group providing corrections as needed. We watched our son, whom I am pretty sure had never done a push up in his life, pump his hips up and down. Muddy bent down and fixed his technique.
Next up was sit ups, followed by a running obstacle course around kick-
boards that Bobbo set out on the sand, a low military crawl through the sand, and the final exercise was holding the spinal board above their heads. Since our son was too short to reach Bobbo had him sit on top of the spinal board holding a kick board above his head. He sat up there, still grinning.
“The little dude is loving every minute of this torture!” Himself whispered with astonishment.
“I’m surprised. I didn’t think he would last ten minutes.” I replied.
Bobbo started into another marching cadence with the recruits echoing his song.
“I don’t know but it’s been said. Air force wings are made of lead. I don’t know, but I’ve been told. Navy wings are made of gold. Put on your packs and follow me. I’m in the fearsome Navy.”
“Recruits. You look hot. I’ll bet you would like to get cooled off in the water. Don’t you agree Sargent Bobbo?” Muddy shouted. The boys did look hot and sweaty after all the activity.
“Yes sir, they do, sir.” Bobbo responded.
“Is it time for surf torture?” Muddy asked Bobbo.
“Yes sir. I think it is time.”
Himself and I looked at each other with puzzled expressions.
“Recruits. When I say ‘go’, you will carefully put down that board and line up along the shallow end, shortest to tallest and then link arms as we begin surf torture!” Muddy yelled. “Go!”
The team carefully lowered the spinal board with plenty of grunting, gasping and groaning. They dashed down to the water’s edge, organized themselves and linked elbows.
“Recruits! Take five steps forward and lie down in the water!”
“Aha! Surf torture.” Himself nodded.
“Ummm…what IS surf torture?” I leaned over and asked Himself.
“It’s cold water conditioning. Normally it’s performed in the frigid ocean waters where the waves would wash over them constantly. But here, at camp, I’m guessing the lake water will actually be a refreshing reward.” Himself explained.
Indeed, it looked like the boys were enjoying it. Bobbo started up again with another round of the Navy cadence song as the recruits cooled down.
“Line up recruits! Front and center. Two straight lines,” Muddy directed as the hour long Navy Seal club was coming to an end.
The boys scurried into formation, standing at attention, as the water dripped off their bodies. Bobbo and Muddy stood facing them.
“Well done recruits. Bravo zulu. I can see that we have a strong group this week. It is my great honor to train you so that your fellow countrymen can sleep in peace knowing that you are protecting them from evil.”
“Hooyah!” Bobbo shouted and the campers echoed him.
“Return tomorrow at 1700 hours for further torture. And gentleman, who are we?”
“We are the Navy Seals, hooyah!” Bobbo yelled and the campers echoed again.
“Disssss missed!” Muddy roared and the group broke up as Muddy and Bobbo continued to stand at ease and watched the kids disperse.
There was lots of laughter, congratulations, and back slaps among the group. Patrick ran gleefully around to the other campers and collected high fives from all of them. It was heartwarming to see how encouraging they all were toward him. He then ran to me and jumped into my lap, getting me wet. I gave him a huge hug. Himself rubbed the top of his head and congratulated him. The little guy was all chatter and smiles.
After the last camper had left, Muddy and Bobbo finally broke character and began to clean up the kick-boards. Himself stood and gave the guys a standing ovation.
“Guys! That was incredible! Probably the most enjoyable hour I have had at camp.” Himself complimented Bobbo and Muddy.
“It’s probably my favorite part of the whole summer,” Bobbo admitted with a smile.
“I don’t know. I’d say it was a tie with the girls’ session fashion show,” Muddy confessed. “Dressing in drag is rather entertaining.”
“That’s true,” Bobbo agreed.
“Geez! From drill sergeant to drag. You guys do it all at camp!” Himself laughed.
“Sir, yes, sir!” Muddy responded.
“That’s the life of a summer counselor,” Bobbo pronounced.