The Sayre Summer Recreation program really took off when retiring Rec Director Dana Twigg started implementing themed programs.
Occasionally, some took on mythic status.
The first Summer Rec Survivor was one such summer.
Rich Krall relates:
“The theme of the first Survivor was to be like the show. Every week the counselors would come and tell us ‘we think these are the best of the best Rec kids’ — the most into it, the most deserving the nicest kids — and every once in a while you’d get a kid who was just a little rough around the edges but they were like, ‘this kid is a Rec kid. Red and blue to the bone.’ Those kids got nominated and they’d be voted on.
At the end of the year, we split them into two teams, about 10 kids per team, and they went on the island. A couple of counselors were in charge of each team. They had to have a camp fire each day and we brought them, like, beef stew and they had to cook their own meals. They stayed here all day.
One of the contests was to drink the ‘Pirate Grog.’ He (Twigg) had this big cauldron and it started out with green soda and then each kid on each team would come up and take a drink if they wanted to. He had a ladle and would pour the stuff into their little cup and they had to drink it. Then I was running the camera and they had to look at me and go, ‘Arrrrrgh.’ They couldn’t spit it out. If they did, they had to quit and they were out of the contest. Whoever could keep drinking this horrible stuff for as long as they could (would win).
Each round, a new ingredient went in. There was Worcestershire Sauce and I know sardines went in there. It stunk SO BAD. I was downwind of the cauldron and the kids were gagging and quitting and getting out of the line.
Then at one point I was trying to egg Dana on, saying, you have to drink some too. He took a big cup of that nasty stuff and he drank it down. He was an absolute trooper. The final kid had to drink a juice glass of it and put that down to be the ultimate winner.
I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Everyone was cheering, hooting and hollering the whole time.
We got done and he turned to me and said ‘I can’t believe we got away with that.’
We couldn’t believe that they went through with it, but, see, his enthusiasm and him, even when I called him out and said ‘you have to drink some of it too,’ and he did because he knew that if you wanted those kids to really be motivated to take part, you had to show that you were willing to do it too.
I can’t imagine doing that today. It wasn’t that it was cruel or mean. They could quit at any time, but just the fact that they kept going back because they wanted to win so bad because they were so invested in the fun of it.”