Day 3 & 4: Burn that Fire and Swamp the Canoe!

6851d8b6-aaa2-4771-85d6-80872bc44630Welcome to two of the most exciting days of Olympics.  Rope Burning and the Great Apache Relay. Two events that are so deep in Towanda tradition, that have been physically, emotionally and spiritually passed down for so many generations and generations to come.  If one were to ask me what the penultimate night of the summer is, I would have to say it is the night of Rope Burning. And if one would have to ask what is the most fun event of the summer, I would have to say Apache! And here’s why…

e3bfc332-4840-4f5a-a5ca-5c73d903870cAs we headed into the night of Rope Burning, I reflected on how far our campers have come…first they arrived, learned to get out of their comfort zones, try new things, make new friends, learn independence, learn new skills, learn responsibilities, learn to laugh and even earn pride (win or lose), great sportsmanship and camaraderie.

f963ca81-c554-45f2-825c-d844d2781fadFast forward to the end of the summer; new friends, young and older, team mates, opposing team friends, ultimate spirit, cheering, marching, singing…along with a focus of determination and spirit…. It doesn’t matter if you are a wood gatherer, a wood sorter or a fire builder or on the ever important cheering end …ROPE BURNING brings camp to its highest level.

37d55216-9dd6-4686-9103-d9d7746915adEveryone together, everyone focused, intensely psyched up, faces painted, wearing ceremonial sweatshirts passed down from generations…and then the horn blows! Like an assembly line the teams work together to gather, sort and feed the best wood to their intensely focused fire builders and experienced coaches. Equally intense are those on the sidelines. Holding hands. Anticipating and awaiting the fate of the fires.

decc569f-ebba-4224-9b2c-2daa7cb9adb6It’s all about the fire, building it, burning it, higher and higher… and one team wins…..BUT then the whole camp cheers on the team that did not win. And in the end, the oldest campers come back together as a brotherhood and sisterhood. Proud they achieved this experience together. Through tears, sweat and face paint.

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No one ever gave up…both teams can hold their heads high as they retreated to their meeting places and cheer on their teammates to the highest of voices and praise.

So proud …that here…like nowhere else…they learn the life lesson of losing (with the support of so many) is not so bad…and that you can hold your head high.  And the winners stand tall with their opponents embracing.

4fadf0e8-3d15-4f30-bbc9-90524f0be53eThat was rope burning. Awesome…exhilarating and impressive. If there was a night that parents could be a fly on the wall, I would wish it were this night. BUT, if you were here, it wouldn’t happen, it would be different….that is also why camp is unique and valuable.

By the way, The Red Lifeguards won Rope Burning in an impressive 11:29 while it took the Blue Ski Patrol 26:18.

6050c198-5a0f-4722-9ebf-bd6e12b5e23b(By the way…earlier in the day, the Boy’s Track meet went 401-395 RED. The Girl’s Swim Meet was 316-328 BLUE.)

Which brings me to the Great Apache Relay, an all-afternoon extravaganza of 243 events, in which EVERY SINGLE camper is involved and is passed the baton. Older campers to younger campers. Boys camp to girls camp. Our family comes together to make this epic event happen!

e8e6e7c1-357f-428c-a9fc-58851a2b5085It is a crazy, multi-faceted, widespread, inter-connected, entertaining yet challenging all afternoon race.  The teams scour over their skills to decide who does what and it takes over 2 ½ hours to setup and and over an hour an a half to complete.

2240c6db-3282-449d-b695-c16df0ae35beEvents from pogo-stick jumping, shoelace lacing, soccer goals, potato sack races to baseball tosses, basketball-tennis-hockey shots to sailing, swamped canoes, laps and several 100 more events that captivate all of us for the afternoon.

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Campers followed my live coverage over the PA System (brought to you by our sponsors Kit Kat, sunscreen of your choice and water) and hopefully you at home followed us on @Twitter and @Instagram (the only event we really “report live” all summer because it’s just SO FUN).

The running of the apache relay was basically neck and neck throughout, with never more than a 2 minute lead and most of the time the teams were within seconds of each other. It was THAT close, it was THAT exciting. NECK & NECK! Did you see the photos?

dbf06a87-ad77-4fee-8435-f02e3a0abc12The cheering, the laughter, the greatness was OH SO BEAUTIFUL…. And at the traditional fire brigade finish, Red squeaked out the victory by just an 11 second differential!  That is a very close Apache (some years there is a 45 minute difference)!

399c708e-4e81-4e2f-a4d9-951d84e3714dSunday Night’s traditional Silent Dinner BBQ was followed by under the lights events (knockout, basketball and softball).

fa5e4f72-9802-43a8-accf-d71ab415d9deAnd as we enter the 5th and final day of Olympics (which concludes with the Great Olympic Sing Monday Night), The BLUE SKI PATROL has an almost ONLY 70 point lead over The RED LIFEGUARDS, but there are still over 400 points available Monday!

Despite the rampant Olympic Fever, even more so is the sense I have of bittersweetness in the air. I can feel it lofting around as everyone, from the youngest DEBS and JETS right though the CLUB and DORM and onward through the counselors, both veterans and first year people… that there  seems to be a “getting closer and closer” as our time together shortens. The goals of the summer have been achieved; if we were to stop and get off of our carousel and look at ourselves 7 weeks ago compared to where we are today, we would see a big difference…one of growth, confidence, comfort, friendship, respect and love.

Bring it on, the final and awesome days, it is like the crescendo of why we are here!

Judgies 2014And a word about our well over 65 guest Alumni Judgies, who come back home to continue the tradition, legacy and spirit of camp. It makes our camp ever so special; as the campers relish the old stories (albeit somewhat embellished), the staff are wowed that people take off from work and time away from their families to return to Judge Olympics. Their presence just adds to an already spirited force.  As one alumni said- “You don’t just go to Towanda; Towanda is with you for life. There’s no place I would rather be this weekend than here.”

Stay tuned for this week’s edition of Friday Nite Flix (which we will air with the campers on Thursday).  It will feature Olympic highlights and more! Not to be missed!

Day 5: Olympic Sing, RED & BL-UNITY forever!

blue2013 Olympiad came to a close with an incredibly spectacular Sing Night and an emotional evening for everyone.

The Field House was transformed into a BLUE CLONING factory with impressive special and entertaining special effects AND A FRENDLY AND FUN ZOMBIE GRAVEYARD. Skit Entrances, Songs, Comic songs and plaques were  presented.

zombiesAfter an entertaining and electric evening the Blue Clones won Sing and the RED Zombies won Olympics by just 94 points (out of over 5000)!

Camp came together as the Dorm Girls sang their Alma Mater one last time and then the Club Boys joined them to lead the entire camp with Friends, Alma Mater and Taps.

A great week of sportsmanship, incredible positive attitude, healthy competition, fun and life-long bonding memories.  Olympics at Camp Towanda ties together everything we have worked towards this summer.  We all feel great!

bluep redp

Here are the official songsheets from the Red & Blue teams and the Judgies. Sing along and enjoy!

 

Olympics Sings Olympics Sings1

Olympics Sings2

Olympics Sings3

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight- 3rd Edition

wherearetheynow

In this edition of “Where are they now?”, we have not one, but TWO couples who met their future spouse at Camp Towanda! Spanning the 80s, 90s and 00s…here is this week’s Alumni Spotlight! Please keep your entries coming and send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  We have so many more great ones to share with you! Until next week….enjoy this trip down memory lane as some of our Alumni share their fond memories and insights about the camp we love!

goldstone

Jayson Goldstone (married to Stacy Glass Goldstone)

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Club 1985
  2. College Attended? Northeastern University
  3. Current Career:  Owner of a Tool and Equipment Company
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  I learned about trust, teamwork, and independence (and some small mischief).
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Riflery (this was a long time ago…we obviously do not have this anymore!)
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Being a camper captain
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  Kings and Queens and Bishops too…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy your summer freedom while you can.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of __glass soda bottles_____, see____brown and gold____, watch____someone skiing off of a motorboat___, hear ____Taps_____ or eat ___pizza with corn meal crusted to the bottom______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be?  Making a human pyramid

Stacy Glass Goldstone (married to Jayson Goldstone-Club 1985)

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Dorm 1986 (started camp in 1979)
  2. College Attended? Duke University
  3. Current Career: Mother to two current Camp Towanda campers (third generation campers-grandmother is Dale Sokoloff Glass)
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Camp allowed me to learn how to make choices  (and mistakes) for myself in a safe environment.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Girls Sing, Dutch Auction, Apache Relay
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Going to the roller skating rink (I think it was in a church)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. D-O-R-M G-I-R-L-S…the Dorm Girls always on the go;  Zum Golly Golly Golly: Kings and Queens:
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Embrace each moment…and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of camp…they will stay with you for a lifetime.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ___(too many to mention but…)_the lake, Shangri-La, the dirt road, the fly tape, milk call, Visiting Day lunch of fried chicken, brownie, and a plum___, see__a fanta soda bottle______, watch________, hear reveille, taps. or____”is anybody out there?”____ or eat _cereal from a small box _________, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be?  List in order, all of the owners of Camp Towanda!

Tina Kunkin Schweid

  1. Dorm / Club Year:1991
  2. College Attended? Lehigh
  3. Current Career: Mom
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, made me a better friend, and more confident.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Under the lights
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  Winning the camp triathlon when I was 11.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  D….O….R….M…..GIRLS SONG..(you know the rest)
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy, try everything and have FUN!!! Be as nice as you can— which is hard at times.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of  my happiest summers as a kid__, see_____a campfire ___, watch_fried green tomatoes _______, hear ____pink Floyd is there anybody out there.____or eat _Charleston Chews _________, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? Reciting the history of camp– when it opened(year, etc)

Ali Sussman

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Dorm 2006
  2. College Attended? Boston University
  3. Current Career: Marketing/Communications
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  Definitely. Towanda taught me how to be responsible, innovative and developed all my leadership skills. In addition, for the communications field, I learned great Public Relations when dealing with parents of my campers. Camp taught me to be independent, to be a member of a group and how to form long lasting relationships.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? The old school evening activity of Panic! on girls camp.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  My most memorable moment at camp was when I was an assistant Group Leader for the Debs in 2010. Their sing was “Towanda runs on Debs & Dils.” Seeing them work so hard at an activity that I used to love as a camper was super special, especially because we won! It was so great seeing all their hard work pay off since debs and dillies usually never even place!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball, Well I had a million dollars but I, I’d spend it all. (Santeria)
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Put away all the extra gadgets that we have today! Enjoy this time and always include one another. There is no time for drama during the summer. These friends you make here will be with you for a long time! Always be spirited and always have fun! Your making life time memories.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of summer, see anything red or blue, watch Wet Hot American Summer, hear American Pie or eat a Chicken Patty, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be?  You could step on the lines when there is only one person left!!

Michael Novick

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1994
  2. College Attended? University of Michigan
  3. Current Career: Film/TV Producer
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? The real world is all about relationships.  The best ones I ever had were at Towanda.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? The Burning of the Olympic Rings
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? The first time I kissed my wife.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. We Welcome You to Camp Towanda We’re mighty glad you’re here…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Cherish this time, now and forever.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of Slim Sterling, see a campfire, watch a Hank Azaria movie, hear taps or eat a Chef Rigby Cookie, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? An all girls ropeburning right before the Water Brigade of Apache.

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight- 2nd Edition

wherearetheynow

As we gear up for Visiting Day weekend and our Annual Alumni BBQ (Sunday, July 21st from 11am-3pm–21 years and older)…it seems like the perfect time for our 2nd Edition of “Where are They Now!?”  The entries have been a terrific trip down memory lane! Keep them coming!!! Send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  And don’t forget to join our LinkedIn Group: The Camp Towanda Network. So without further ado, here are 5 new Alumni spotlights starting with Wendy Levine Slater.  Wendy is a former camper, counselor and camp-parent!

Wendy Levine Slater:

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  1. Dorm Year:  Dorm 1982
  2. College Attended: University of Vermont
  3. Current Career: Registered dietitian
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Towanda prepares you for parenthood, especially if you were a counselor. As a camper, it teaches you coping skills, independence, and how to get along with a variety of people with very different personalities and skills.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Dutch auction, sing-down and Apache Relay
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Winning Olympiad my Senior year, oh and first meeting my now husband nick at the port authority bus station on our way to camp in 1985 (I was asked my the owners to check in all the foreign counselors)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  “I go to camp towanda pity me, there’s not a boy in the vicinity…”
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?     Camp is an invaluable experience. You are so lucky to have this opportunity. The things you learn, the friendships you make-You may even meet your future husband or wife! The memories last forever and every year during the last week of June my spirit is on those coach buses as they leave for Honesdale.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of summer, hear “Rock and Roll high school by the Ramones (dorm winning airband song) watch any play we did ( grease, bye bye birdie, guys and dolls, the boyfriend) eat a turkey club, mud pie, late night pizza or fried chicken (visiting day lunches were the best- bills chicken was legendary with chips, plum and brownie. Still the best lunch ever)
  10. If you could add an event for the Great Apache Relay, what would it be? You could have to say the alphabet backwards.

Craig Cooper

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1991
  2. College Attended?: University of Maryland
  3. Current Career: Manufacture stainless steel kitchen equipment
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? YES, it taught me life skill, such as getting along with others, working in groups, respect for others and independence
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?: basketball/ Hockey
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Other than meeting my wife, breaking Olympics by arriving in a helicopter (Blue Jetsons 1995)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Zoom Golly Golly, Zoom Golly Golly
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy every minute that you are at camp, it goes by very quickly and then it is over
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ___good times____, see__Timberland boots______, watch___summer olympics_____, hear _____American Pie____ or eat ____chocolate chip Cookies______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? Hot Dog Eating

*Craig and Marnie Cooper met at camp and are now first-time camp parents!!!

Peter Walsh

  1. Dorm / Club Year: AGL of the Club of 2005
  2. College Attended? Saint Mary’s University
  3. Current Career: Teacher
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes it sure did, it helped me become more independent and have more confidence in myself.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Olympics by far
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? In 2004 the Senior Boys during Olympics played one of the most entertaining softball games I have ever seen. It went back and forth and Blue won in the 15 inning.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Friends is such a great song as it sums up what Towanda is all about.
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Be yourself, don’t change yourself, have fun and don’t sweat the small things.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ____summer___, see_____Olympics___, watch____certain movies____, hear ____American Pie_____ or eat ____Soup______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? At the time of my last year if you caught the ball after trying to be hit one of your teammates was not brought back in so I would make that a rule.

Samantha Orringer

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 2003
  2. College Attended? University of Wisconsin
  3. Current Career: advertising sales
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Absolutely. I had no homesickness going into college or moving to Chicago (where I currently live). I’m also very independent and can take care of myself.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Duh. Arts and crafts!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Way too many! But one I think of off the top of my head is practicing dorm sing (at an undisclosed location) while no one in camp knew where we were.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  We welcome you to Camp Towanda….
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? You are so fortunate to have the sleep away camp experience because at 25 years old, my camp friends are still my best friends and no one knows me like they do.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ____any childhood memory___, see____soffee shorts____, watch____the Olympics____, hear _____taps____ or eat _____grilled cheese_____, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be?  My ghost memory is foggy. But perhaps if something happens, a second ball is triggered into the game?

Beth Manspeizer Schwartz

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1990
  2. College Attended?  Skidmore College BS in theater. MFA from Actors Studio Drama School in Acting.
  3. Current Career: Actor, Director of Education of a film institute called The Picture House in Westchester, and a Mommy!
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, in so many countless ways. But one that stands out: I learned to be a leader at Towanda, but I also learned how to allow others to be leaders. It was this awareness and respect for everyone’s contribution to the group, that I learned from Towanda and I have taken with me throughout life.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? So many…girls sing, cricket, porch lunch, trading stickers, jacks, being with my friends.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? When my boyfriend held a big box radio, over his head, outside my dorm window and played “In your eyes”. Now that’s old school! I don’t think kids these days know what a box radio is!!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. “Here nestled in the hills the camp I love.” But I can remember mostly every camp song I ever learned and I love them all.
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Learn from your counselors. When you look back on your childhood, you will realize they were like little mommies to you. They taught me the importance of traditions, of taking care of myself, how to solve problems, how to push myself to achieve (one time my counselor allowed me stay at the water front for a whole day to learn how to dive…and I learned). You will remember the things they teach you and you will cherish them. From the simplest: how to sing your guts out, to learning how to make a bed with hospital corners, to putting on a pillow case…to the most meaningful: being a dear friend.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of __singing __, see__a lake___, watch__olympic rings burn____, hear ____”is there anybody out there” or eat ___chocolate pudding with peanut butter_, I think of Camp Towanda!

Girls’ Sing- Dorm ’13 Alma Mater

future  dormappetit

Our camp (and alumni) always look forward to our oldest campers (THE DORM) appearance at Girls’ Sing.  They brainstorm their sing theme from the time they are Debs! They talk in the off-season, planning ideas.  They write their own songs and practice them in a secret location.  They make “fake scenery” to keep everyone guessing.  The anticipation for Dorm sing is a tradition that dates way back in our camp’s history and is awesome.  It is especially an emotional tradition to listen to our Dorm Girls sing from the heart in their Alma Mater.  Seeing how far they have come.  They were once 8 year old Debs, sitting in a circle, playing duck duck goose.  Today they are 15 year old sisters, sitting in a circle, arm in arm, bonded for life.  Here are their lyrics, sung to the Gavin Rossdale song “Love Remains the Same “.  Grab some tissues and enjoy.

circledormLove Remains The Same

A thousand memories that we’ve shared

It’s hard to picture you not there

Fate has brought me here to be with you

Twenty-four girls came together

To form a bond that lasts forever

Without you I don’t know who I would be

All the summers we’ve been spending

How is it our journey’s ending

CHORUS:

I never thought that I

Would have to say goodbye

Sitting hand in hand

I can’t live without you

Here united we are one

Friendships we have gained

Dorm thirteen won’t change

Our love remains the same

Camp’s the place we call our own

We’ll always find our way back home

Let us freeze this moment here in time

No matter if you’re near or far

You’ll always be inside my heart

Although the days are coming to a close

All the summers we’ve been spending

How is it our journey’s ending

CHORUS:

I never thought that I

Would have to say goodbye

Sitting hand in hand

I can’t live without you

Here united we are one

Friendships we have gained

Dorm thirteen won’t change

Our love remains the same

So much more to say

Please don’t go away

You are my best friends

I’ll be here ‘til the end

Never let me go

We wish we could rewind

Stay right by my side

How’d we end up here

Even though we’ll soon be parting

I promise a new chapter’s starting

All the summers we’ve been spending

How is it our journey’s ending

CHORUS:

I never thought that I

Would have to say goodbye

Sitting hand in hand

I can’t live without you

Here united we are one

Friendships we have gained

Dorm thirteen won’t change

Sisters we will stay

Our love will never fade

yeahdorm

 

Classic Camp Day!

From start to finish, yesterday we hit it out of the ballpark! It was a “classic” Camp Towanda day from the Water Carnival to our “All-Star Baseball”-themed evening. Let me break it down for you:

waterfrontWHO
We started with a lazy morning outdoor buffet breakfast……The nationals are on their multi-day excursion; the CITs had a day off and the rest of us had a B-L-A-S-T at the water carnival;   wet=wild=warm…on rides, slides, floats, boats, popcorn, cotton candy, watermelon, ice pops, hoses, golf balls, rapids and floating stuff!

fineartWHAT
Good music (of course) and heat…….hours of splashing and dancing! Stephanie even had a Fine Arts Class lakeside in the afternoon.

walk on waterI DON’T KNOW
Ending with our smorgasbord dinner; then Girls played PANIC (some sort of fun girl game) and the boys had Home Run derby…then, because we thought all star game was tonight (in past years it has always been on this corresponding date), we went with watching baseball bloopers and Abbot & Costello’s WHO’s ON FIRST (THAT never gets old) under the stars on the big screen (did you catch us on the live cam?)….while Bob The Boys HC, along with Howie our Program director, grilled dogs, served popcorn and hawked root beer (just like at the ballpark)…..another great camp tradition.

hulaBECAUSE
The Fun continues; we have Circus Workshops during the day today, Electionality  at night (one campaign slogan for camp president says” Vote for us, we would give you a chocolate chip cookie, but we don’t have any”! You gotta love that!

girlspopsTODAY
I was speaking with the CITs (our 17 year olds)  They were just hanging out, talking with me and Stephanie; joking, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company; at the end of the conversation, they said they “…love camp (most of them here already for 7-10 years so far) because one reason is that if they were ANYWHERE else, they would be texting; it is just more real here”.
I need not say anymore!

cottoncandyTOMORROW
This place is magical on so many levels; I know I say it often but the growth, the confidence, the experience we see develop and improve EVERYDAY is phenomenal. I realize that some of you get different messages from the letter or phone call, but HERE, IN THE MOMENT, each camper is thriving, at their own pace and what is good for them, without being compared to anyone else.

highfive

 

I DON’T GIVE A DARN
It just keeps on getting better…….the Camp Towanda family!

~Mitch

P.S. Just in case you haven’t ever seen Abbot & Costello’s Who’s on First…it’s a must.