Moanin' Myrtle

Growing up, the highlight of my summer was visiting Sky Ranch.

And the highlight of my time at Sky Ranch? Mission Impossible night.

Every Wednesday, we had a pizza party. Instead of the usual camp food, pizza was ordered and the mess hall was transformed into a makeshift "army base", complete with camo & cargo nets adorning the walls. Part way through dinner, the lights would dim, the Mission: Impossible theme song would play, and it would begin.

We got our mission and we took that mission seriously. Heck. we even dressed the part in camo we'd brought just for that one night and face paint that we'd bought at the camp store. 

Once everyone was ready and about a million pictures were taken, we'd set out. 

Scattered around the camp were various tasks for us to accomplish. We would crawl through the mud, go down water slides, brave black-lit obstacle courses, and run from the enemy. 

The enemy came in several forms.

There were the foot soldiers, campers in the leadership program armed with whipped cream & squirt guns. They would attack at random, chasing shrieking campers into increasingly messy situations.

Then there was Myrtle. 

Myrtle was the last person you wanted to meet. 

Actually that's not entirely accurate. Myrtle wasn't a person.

Myrtle was an old ambulance. 

Myrtle drove around the camp, loudspeakers blaring. Myrtle had the ability to take things from groups of campers, whether it was something they had found along their journey or something they had been given to protect as part of the mission.

And to keep Myrtle from taking whatever she wanted, you had to do what she said.

And what Myrtle said was usually embarrassing. One time, Myrtle commented on the fact that she didn't see any campers but she did see a bunch of earth worms. So we got down in the mud on our bellies and wriggled like worms while Myrtle's henchmen coated us with shaving cream,

There was no way around the shaving cream during that game, really.

During my years at Sky Ranch I pretend to be whatever Myrtle wanted me to be, no matter how much it embarrassed me. It was the one time I didn't really feel shame or embarrassment despite being an adolescent. 

That was the magic of Mission Impossible. The rigid social rules were relaxed for one night. The only way to embarrass yourself was to refuse to do something embarrassing. 

Apparently over the years, the game changed and lost its innocence. Parents began to complain because "nice" clothes were being ruined. But the Mission Impossible of my youth didn't involve Victoria's Secret bras or expensive outfits. It involved cheap thrift store camo, sports bras, and lots of shaving cream. 

Needless to say, Mission Impossible night taught me something important: it's not always about fitting in or looking cool. It's okay to just let your hair down and act foolish. It's okay to enjoy the moment, to get into character, to not worry so much about anything but the task at hand. 

While I highly doubt running around a campground in camo covered in shaving cream, mud, and smelly lake water while dodging an ambulance named Myrtle is in my future, there were always be times when I can bring a little Mission Impossible into my adult life and to be a little goofy.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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