Chipmunk Chatter: Vol. 53, No. 6

16 Jul 2010 by Jim Gibbons, No Comments »

The Chipmunk Chatter was Camp Shewahmegon’s newsletter, which ideally came out on a weekly basis for all of camp’s 54 years of operation. A masterpiece of clip art and colored paper during my time at camp, The Chatter was an information source for parents and a venue for the staff and campers to goof around. Introductory articles about counselors and staff, camping trip recaps written by campers, announcements of award winners and basic camp information filled the pastel pages of this publication.

While the Chipmunk Chatter was undoubtedly a great source of information for most parents, it’s true potential was achieved when staff and some savvy campers worked inside jokes into articles and used it as a way to make each other laugh. I remember working an inside joke into a report I wrote about a 1997 camping trip on the St. Croix River. Former Shewahmegonite and Wisconsin State Legislator Gary Sherman (Now a judge on the Wisconsin State Court of Appeals, believe it or not.), who accompanied us on our trip, made a particularly delicious campfire meal on the final night along the river. A tasty mixture of rice, cream sauce and chicken, someone in my cabin (Cabin 14, for the record.) dubbed the dish “Mama Gary’s Chicken St. Croix.” I’m pretty sure I can claim credit for coining the dish’s name, and I’m positive I’m the first person to ever put it into print. Noted as one of the highlights of our trip, I reported that “Mama Gary’s Chicken St. Croix” was a meal worth remembering, and what do you know, I remember it to this day!

It’s kind of crazy to look back at The Chatter after working as a writer for a legitimate newspaper, national magazine and a major online comic book news site, but that tiny pamphlet was the first print publication I cut my teeth on. Kind of crazy, indeed. Another semi-crazy tidbits about the newsletter was how Chatter articles were penned. Scribbled in a plethora of appalling forms of pre-teen to teenage male handwriting, the quickly scrawled articles were then transcribed by The Chatter‘s editor. Having done my fair share of sifting through poorly written reporter’s notes and transcribing plenty of my own chicken scratch, I definitely have a whole new appreciation for the work Becky Will and Cathy Laatsch (the Chatter editors during my years at camp) put into this publication. They definitely deserve a Locomotive.

Now, without further ado, the final Chipmunk Chatter from camp’s second to last year…

Click the images to see larger versions of them.

2000 was my first year on staff, so I wasn’t eligible to win any awards. I did, however, help instruct sailing and archery, so I’ll take a smidgen of credit for nurturing those campers’ success. Otherwise, I hope this rekindles some fun memories for folks.

Note: I believe I have more of Chipmunk Chatters tucked away somewhere at my folks’ house, but if you’re a Shewahmegonite with Chatters or songsheets at home, I’d love to scan them in and record them. Drop me a line at jimgibbons1 [at] gmail [dot] com if you have anything like that you’d like posted.

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