June 23, 2002

Session One: The Bloodletting


Last week, we stocked Mandan cabin with frenzied eight-, nine-, and ten-year-olds. Chaos of a legendary degree reigned, such that my co-counselor Jeff and I renamed our cabin The Epicenter of Entropy. I cannot begin to write what a horrible, exhausting experience it was. The kids couldn’t even get their shoes on without constant prodding, they would fill each other’s mouths with bug spray, fights erupted every two minutes, we set a new record for the latest return from an overnight…

…and on Friday, certain events transpired that taxed my emotional and psychological limits to such a degree that I had a breakdown and was out of commission for the rest of the day. All week we had been scraping rock bottom, and finally the campers found a way to keep on digging.

There were good points. Many of my kids cried at closing campfire because they had such a good time at camp. I made number three in the Top 10 Coolest Counselors poll. I’ve got big, tough muscles and a store-bought tan. I ran the windsurfing achievement on Saturday. Jeff and I developed numerous inside jokes that kept us going (“I really shouldn’t be holding a knife right now.”). All the other staff were rooting for us, such that a moment of silence was held at the final meeting to recognise me and Jeff for surviving the week.

Next week will be better. It cannot get worse.

If you wish to send mail to the warfront, the address is as follows:

Dane R Petersen, Esq.

c/o YMCA Camp Ihduhapi

P.O. Box 37

Loretto, MN 55357

I will try to dignify every piece of mail with a grunt of approval.

June 14, 2002

Camp, change and bills

Camp has hardly changed a bit. There are a few more buildings, sure, and the tents we stayed in for the summer of ’93 have since been replaced by the Bunkhouse, but these are merely technicalities in a swirling universe of spiritual energy. In the past week I have been given the opportunity to bond with sixty or so of the most wonderful people on this rocky little planet.

While the physical qualities of camp cannot be understated, what I remember most from my childhood were my counselors, who appeared to be coolest people in the world. There is no doubt that the people I met during my four years Ihduhapi changed my life, and now by a curious twisting of gears in the clockwork of fate, I am among their ranks.

As my friends got to know me in the past week, many got curious where a soul like mine must come from. Crazy parents. Engineered in a test tube. HTML. A wheelbarrow of drugs. Nay, I say to all of these. It is the code of Ihduhapi that is written on the edges of my spirit. I am merely a distillation of the qualities I saw and adored in my counselors. Whatever behavior that I found funny, intellectual or stimulating I fastened to my glorious shell.

Nothing has changed. This year’s staff reflects my fondest memories of going to camp, and has the potential to influence me again. It was nearly ten years since I last set foot on Ihduhapi soil, and yet I constantly sense time-loops that reference back to those dayus. I am here and there simultaneously. I am a counselor and a camper. There are no staff members common with the past and present, but it makes no difference. They are the same people. The spirit is there, and the effect will be the same.

It was at this glistening jewel that someone helped himself to the folded contents of my wallet. I realized the truancy of my greenbacks when I was at Target, preparing to pay for a Slip-N-Slide to use on our free days at Ihduhapi. A healthy fourscore was gone, and suddenly I felt like I had been shot in the gut by my best friend. I turned to the checkout lady for support.

“I just got back from summer camp, and someone stole all my money.”

“Oh, ho, ho! A little mouse must have gotten in there! Well, at least you know who did it!”

“No… I don’t.”


Apparently she thought I stole my own money, which is a silly prospect. I knew full well that her interpretation is false, as I last consulted my wallet Thursday afternoon to witness the burning World Trade Center that one can fold out of the $20 bill. At this time my wallet had a filled belly, and was laid to rest in my cubbyhole in Lewis and Clark cabin. It would seem another person had other plans, however, and forced my wallet to purge itself before I could do it myself.

I must remark that the thief was exceedingly kind in not stealing my business cards, credit card, bank card, insurance card, school id, country-bumpkin driver’s license or Blockbuster membership. My phone card was left behind as well, but it is symbolically empty and needs a recharge at Sam’s Club. This is due to my own inaction, and is a condition that the thief can hardly be held accountable for.

Before my cruel discovery in the checkout line I was cruising around Minnetonka with an impossible smile on my lips that only broke to sing along with Ben Folds. Afterwards I could hardly make myself walk to my car in the parking lot. I had been violated. Swindled. I would not have cared had a stampeding auto trampled me down in front of the store. The goodness of humanity had been dashed in one selfish act. Eventually I stumbled to my car, leaned against the door and slumped to blacktop.

I did not want to point fingers. I wanted to believe, more than anything, that it was an outside job. I wanted the focus of my wrath to be a dusty thief with a bandanna over his mouth. I wanted to find the guilty Drug Lord blues guitarist and blow up his Cadillac. I wanted to shake the Hamburglar until my $80 fell out of his eye sockets. But no, none of these made sense. Granted I did not do a cunning job of hiding my wallet (who knew I would need to?), but the isolation of the incident, the short timeline and the location all imply it was someone from my cabin. Who it was, I do not know. I’d rather not know. I’d rather the thievery didn’t happen in the first place. I’d rather that common decency would allow humans to embrace a moral or two every once in awhile.

While driving home from Target, I had to give myself reasons to break for the car in front of me.

I thought of at least sixty.

June 9, 2002

Ubiquitous Mike

At camp. Camp rocks.

My friend Tara pressured me into trying to eat shrimp, which was a horrible experience. The little buggers look like curled and shriveled children’s toes that were soaked in the lake all day. It felt like I was chewing on mucus in a Zip Loc bag, and they tasted mostly of dry heaves and bile. Everyone else said they were delicious jambalaya shrimp. I remain unconvinced.

Everyone visit redscreen.net, because Anne says so. Do what Anne says or she will beat you with her freshly aquired communications major.

Kyle and I have been trying to figure out the particle theory of this guy named Mike. Kyle has worked at Ihduhapi many years and has never seen Mike before, even though Mike says he does everything at camp. I suggest that every atom at camp has Mike quarks bonded to their protons and neutrons, making Mike omnipresent. Kyle believes Mike may be some kind of deity. I am not willing to make such a unverifiable concession. We will see who wins the fight in the sandbox.

June 7, 2002

DJ Shadow

If there is anyone out there hailing from the Twin Cities area, I have a request. Please go to First Avenue tonight at 7:00 and see DJ Shadow. I would kill to go (kill) but I am being shot out of a cannon at 2:00 this afternoon to spend the rest of my summer at camp. I didn’t go to the Big Wu Family Reunion, I can’t go to Farmapalooza, I can’t go to Bonnaroo, I can’t see String Cheese Incident at River’s Edge, I can’t see Umphrey’s McGee, I can’t see Yonder Mountain String Band, I can’t… GG!RA AHG!H !RHAHGHRAH HGHA!H!H!H!HTAH RRAHGH~!H!HQAHTHHTR!

Here’s something I wrote on April 21st about DJ Shadow. May it entice the whole two of you to visit this fine musician this evening. Recycling material is an unforgivable crime, I know. I expect no pardon.

It’s snowing, and it’s snowing hard. Tuning my mind away from the spring that seemed so near so recently, I put in Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. Two years ago on a December night a load of Woochers were crammed in the Tempo, shooting down a narrow winding road north of Ely. This CD epitomized the mood. The atmosphere was frigid, and Endtroducing chilled it further with it’s drawling, creepy melodies. We would turn the headlights off and follow the brakelights of the car in front of us. They would turn off their lights and we’d navigate by the moon. Sharp turns in the icy road would sneak up. Mixed in was a serious relationship that I knew was on its way out, but couldn’t figure out how to bring to conclusion.

Some music resonates so strongly in my soul that I need to store it under oil for a few months. I flip through my CDs and pause on an album, afraid to touch it because it’s so loaded with meaning. So wired into my emotions. Endtroducing. Yonder Mountain String Band. They are cached away for a time, and while I love the albums to death I won’t listen to them. The time is not right. To listen would dishonor the music. The memory.

Music is very important to me, which explains why I spent two hard years as a jazz studies major. I can only hope that my future holds some sort of musical type working thing. Writing will facilitate this, I hope.

June 5, 2002

Mowing Disaster

The lawn needed to be mowed three days ago, and the past two days of rain have not helped the situation. Today I got an opportunity to attack the hayfield with disasterous results. The dead are stacked waist-deep on a blue tarp in the driveway and many more still lay where they fell, in green clumps moist with blood.

The grass was too wet to be mowed, and when I realized the futility of my task I went to mow the communal neighborhood turn-around instead. The grass was so long the mower cowered in fear and refused to start. What I needed was a scythe. A scythe with napalm.

Only then did I fully grasp the scope of my dilemma. The yard is too wet to mow, but if I wait any longer it will grow a coat as thick and lush as the one adorning the turn-around. I must mow now, I must, or the battle will be completely lost. If I wait I will need to call in an airstrike, which will require an elaborate explanation when my parents return from Durango:

Dane, what are all these craters doing in our yard?



Yeah, there were tons of ’em. Smart, too. They had guns and bureaucrats. Now we have craters.

Well, get rid of them. Put them in Matt’s yard or something.

So I mowed, and now our yard is a complete disaster. Pine trees smell delicious when you mow them down. I need to rake the driveway. The tarp-stack of dead was extremely heavy and required an exhausting drag down to the cemetery. It’s a good thing nature doesn’t have a cruel sense of humor, or she’d make grass out of steel. Not only would you pop discs while churning the compost, you’d have to push a smelter around the yard to mow the damn stuff. The suburban skies would darken and gutters would overflow with tailings.

I eventually found a solution for the turn-around that did not involve weaponry preferred by cloaked skeletons. I outfitted the mower with knobby monster truck tires, which raised the blade so high it could have clipped the bangs of Zeus atop Mount Olympus. With such retrofitting I danced in circles about the field, bringing sweet, sweet death to the lengthy leaves of grass.

Tomorrow: Clean-up. We’ve gotta make it look like nothing happened.

June 4, 2002

Blaster Balls



To blast in hand: Cup one ball in hand at crease of palm and fingers. Hold other ball in same hand between thumb and forefinger. Toss upper ball one to two feet up and catch ball, bringing hand with ball in upward motion. Cracking balls together creates a ‘blast’ sound when coated surfaces meet right in your hand -safely.

CRACKING BALLS are fun! Try this game:

Using the hand blasting method, see how many times you can blast the balls in a row without dropping them or missing a blast. When you miss, pass the balls to the next player. Keep score and the first person to blast the balls 25 times wins.

Invent many more games yourself!


Choking Hazard -small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Exercise caution when playing.

Do not blast within one foot of the face.

Do not throw at or near other children.

Keep your blaster balls dry.

…just another day at the dollar store…