In the far eastern tradition pagodas were ceremonial places of worship and contemplation. At Saginaw they lacked the liturgical aspect but we were always big on contemplating things.
Saginaw pagodas were open air wooden slated structures with good ventilation, a strong attribute on a sultry summer day in the Garden Spot of Pennsylvania. These were hamish outposts for all kinds of meetings, bull sessions, watering holes (I.J. Pagoda had a water fountain), and other types of get togethers.
Herbie held counselor meetings in the Inter Pagoda, parent-counselor conferences went on in the IJ pagoda, and things we would rather not acknowledge or discuss went on in the Canteen and Jack and Sharon Pagodas in the dell.
But by all measures, the Hill Pagoda, perched on the crest of the Senior Hill, right in front of the Zeus lair (Hill 1), was the conversational center for all that mattered on the Hill each summer. This pagoda also served as a shrine to all that was important on Mt. Olympus-Zeuses, their underlings, memories of competitive feats, and the sporting accomplishments of generations of folks who lived on the Hill.
This was the central gathering place for counselors discussing bad campers, good campers, league drafts, color war teams, Mr. Saginaw possibilities, or the schedule for the next field trip.
It could seat a dozen aromatic males comfortably……more once the auxiliary Victory Bench was put into play.
After curfew this pagoda became the hot spot of the evening counselor bull session (a.k.a. The Hill Meeting). There topics ranged from current Major League pennant races to off-day itineraries to secretive matters of human relations (which is why minutes were never taken at these meetings).
Hill Meetings could be attended by Hill counselor staff, invited dignitaries, and often prying ears lurking in the woods.
There were reminders all around of the core principles of The Hill.
Prominently displayed above were plaques bearing names we had come to revere. Every Zeus and every counselor that had ever donned a Hill jersey was up there.
These include the original Zeus I plaque in the corner…..here with Zeus I Connie Chalick posing beneath it.
These included lists of counselor recipients of the hallowed Spirit of the Hill award.
And Hill camper league leaders in basketball scoring and softball batting averages through the ages.
Hill MVPs from all the Hill-IJ games starting in 1966
Maybe most important of all, they were plaques to commemorate the historic times the Hill snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat in the Hill-IJ Game.
There was just something exalted about the sensation of cackling and laughing in the Hill Pagoda and hearing the echos resound down toward lower camp.
For Hillmen time spent in the Pagoda with fellow campers and counselors were times to recall fondly forever.