Raids are one of the unspoken givens at summer camps. This is where teenagers learn to hone their skills of short-sheeting beds, creative use of toothpaste and shaving cream, hanging undergarments from flag poles, and just creating havoc any way they could.
At Saginaw the tradition has strong roots, though people rarely talk about it.
Jim Korman relates that when they were campers on the Hill in the 1950’s, when taking Arts and Crafts downstairs in Saniford Hall, they dropped tools out of the window to use for making a trap door in the floor of Hill 3 and the next year Hill 5. Hill 6 they didn’t need a trap door since it was the last one next to the woods, so they made a rope ladder instead and went out the back window.
This has all the trappings of the 1953 war move Stalag 17 or, later, The Great Escape……….hmmmmmmm.
The purpose of all of this was to sneak over to girls camp at night. They really didn’t do much other than sit under the senior girl’s bunks and listen to what they said. This is when many of them first learned that girls used naughty words.
There are plenty of stories of girls stealthly making it through the woods to roost behind the Hill Pagoda and eavesdrop on the conversations of secretive late night Hill meetings or sneaking into boys bunks while they were at activities to paint cryptic notes on the inside walls of Hill 1 or 2.
Every raid is like a Big Fish Story, the tale grows each time it is told. But this one, in the words of Curt Heffler a Saginaw lifer from 1970 to 1980, relates the counselor perspective and how these things were often handled with a version of kangaroo justice to keep them from getting out of hand.
Here is one of my favorite memories from the Summer of 1980 (my last of 10 years at Saginaw). I was a counselor in Hill 3. My girlfriend, Karen Frankel (now my wife of 35 years) was a counselor of a girl’s bunk, possibly Bunk R. Karen mentioned to me one day that on at least 3 occasions over the previous week, Hill 2 boys were raiding her bunk in the middle of the night and were loud. Loud enough to wake Karen up. She asked me to put a stop to it.
I mentioned this to a few of the Hill 2 boys and they assured me that Karen would not be awoken in further raids. To my shock, the very next day Karen said it happened again. The boys raided her bunk the previous night and were loud enough to wake her up. How could I, a Hill counselor, be so disrespected by Hill boys? Totally unacceptable. Time for me to take action.
I had a “mole” in Hill 2 willing to participate in my plot. I told him to wait 10 minutes after the raiders left whenever the next raid took place, then come wake me up. Sure enough, that night at about 3 AM I was roused from my slumber. It was my mole. I went to Hill 5 and grabbed my co-conspirator counselor who was always up for no good with me. We went into Hill 2 and proceeded to remove the beds of the raiders, hiding all of them under Hill 1. We then went back to sleep.
According to my mole, the raiders returned to Hill 2 about 5 AM expecting to crash into bed, except that their beds were gone. Panic ensued. How could they explain how their beds disappeared in the middle of the night? How could they blow the whistle on me to Herbie without themselves getting into trouble? And similar ponderings of 15 year old boys. Needless to say, it was the last raid of the summer of 1980.
To this day I have never disclosed who the mole and the co-conspirator were. I haven’t revealed their identities to anyone in gratitude of their contribution to my scheme, and will continue to do so. Nah, 36 years have passed, it is now safe to announce that Rob Figarotta (first cousin of that year’s Zeus, Larry Elfman) was the other Hill counselor who helped me move the beds under Hill 1. As for the Hill 2 mole, I will take his name to my grave.
If you want to read about another “infamous raid” check out this detailed account related by Debra Forman of a daring raid on The Hill back in 1974. This was revealed in Debra’s Comment to the Acropolis Memories posting. This raid had all the planning and precision execution of the IDF rescue mission at the Entebbe Airport in 1976. These girls were way ahead of their time.