Finding The Time Capsule or How To Destroy The Flagpole Field In Less Than 10 Hours.
I got to Camp on the morning of Friday, August 26th. It was the last day of Family Camp and, starting that afternoon, it would be the first day of the Centennial Celebration Weekend. Ryan had always planned that we would dig up the Time Capsule from the 75th Anniversary so we could open it at the 100th.
There was only one small problem: no one was really sure where it was.
The most common theory was that it had been buried six paces from the flagpole, facing towards the office. Working with several Takodians, including Chris White, Tom Dill, and Doug Smith, we grabbed a variety of tools and started to dig. We tried digging an exploratory hole around the six-pace mark. Nothing. We tried 8 paces, then 10, then 12, then 15, then 20, then 40, then more. We dug based on different memories, different stories, and clues we got from people we called throughout the day. We tried different angles out from the office or the flagpole. We aligned the dig with the Big Chair, the water fountain, Hobby Nooks door, and even a tree that had been struck by lightning many years back. We dug, and dug, and dug some more. Within a matter of hours, the entire field from the flagpole to the gravel was utterly destroyed.
We didnt find so much as a trace of the time capsule.
What we did find, however, surprised us all: evidence of campfires from decades prior that some of the most legendary Takodians may have built themselves. While we also found some plastic beads, plumbing pipes, large rocks, and other fascinating bits of Camp or nature buried beneath the surface, it was the blackened dirt, charcoal, and decomposing logs that made us stop and wonder who had been there so many years before us.
After 10 hours or so of nearly non-stop digging, we started to become dejected and wonder if it was still down there at all. Thats when we found out that the field in which we were digging had been raised by a few feet in or around the late 1990s. Immediately, we knew the problem.
We werent digging deep enough.
At that point, we asked George, one of the maintenance managers, to get the backhoe and give us a hand. Once he was in place, we went back to the beginning and had him start in the place where we had the most evidence that the Time Capsule might be waiting: six paces out from the flagpole. George fired up the tractor, took one scoop, pulled out a boulder, and then he took a second scoop. In that moment, we immediately saw it. The Time Capsule, a bright red Coleman cooler, was buried much deeper than we realized. Unfortunately, the shovel had punctured it in the process. Worst of all, there was water pouring out of it. The cooler had long since lost its plastic seal and, we guessed, it had filled up with mud within a few years of being buried.
Once we got it out of the ground, we opened it up to discover that the contents, while damaged, were still visible. There were Polaroid photographs taken the day it was buried, a teddy bear from the camp store, a 10 Year Jacket, a newspaper coupon flyer, a hat, plastic utensils, a length of rope, an early bird shirt, a small wooden Nature Nook plaque that Doug had made, and some other newspapers and assorted documents that had been too damaged by the water to be salvaged. Nevertheless, it was exciting to have found it and to have had a chance to directly touch the past of our beloved Camp.
As we celebrated our successful, if not comedic, archeological dig, Anne Dente, who was there for Family Camp, picked up one of the Polaroids and realized her family was in it. She was there, along with Charlie, Sarah, and Steve, the day it had gone into the ground! That was an amazing way to wrap up our dig.
Once we were done patting each other on the back, it was time to figure out two things. 1, how we were going to repair the damage we had done throughout the dig and 2, how could we ensure that the next time capsule will be easily located by a group of Takodians 25 years from now?
The first problem was easy to solve: have George fill in the holes and then walk away pretending like we had nothing to do with it. If anyone asks, it was all Tom Dills fault.
The second part was easy as well: in the fall, Ryan bought a large, military-grade, watertight steel box that we can fill, wrap, seal, bury, and then mark with a capstone. We will also map it out, photograph it, and place copies of the map and photos in the office and in the property committee archives so we know it will be easily found when the day comes to dig it up.
This spring, just before the countdown to the 101st summer really kicks in, we will bury the Centennial Time Capsule. Over the winter, weve been gathering camp content, personal items, and historical artifacts to include. If you have something youd like to contribute, please contact Ryan or Graeme and let us know what youd like to share. Once we have it, we will catalog it, prep it for placement, and ensure that it safely sleeps until we gather again to mark another historic anniversary on the shores of Cass Pond.
Oh, and if you see Tom, make sure you ask him how his back is feeling.