by Colin Post
The game was more intense than anyone had seen all season, and it was tied with less than a minute remaining.
Players cut back and forth across the freshly-cut grass, sweat and dirt flew everywhere, and the fans in attendance either stood anxiously or sat at the edge of their seats.
With ten seconds remaining, the crowd began a countdown.
“TEN… NINE… EIGHT…”
Calm and collected amidst the pressure, Kyle “Chuck” Poerschke caught a pass and fired a shot at the bottom right corner of the goal.
The buzzer sounded, and the winning sideline streamed onto the field with glee, as the opposite team walked off in defeat.
No, this wasn’t the end of the most recent Super Bowl, an epic high school football matchup, or even a tense lacrosse game.
This was the dramatic finish to the Week 5 Turkish Delight game between the dads and the sons at the Pine Cove Woods in 2019.
“I won’t forget a moment like that,” Chuck said. “To be able to celebrate with the campers and see joy on their faces is what it’s all about.”
We’re guessing that when you read “Turkish Delight,” you probably either said “What?” or you thought about the candy from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Here at Pine Cove, though, Turkish Delight is one of the most electric field games played, and it has become a staple for every Friday night at the Woods.
Since Chris “Broflex” Boddy took over as camp director of the Woods in 2013, Turkish Delight has been played every Friday night between Impact (7th through 12th grade) sons and their dads.
“The big push at the Woods was to make it more ‘youth campy’ when I got there,” Broflex said. “I didn’t want it to feel like a family camp. I wanted it to feel like a youth camp. There’s nothing more youth campy to me than Turkish Delight.”
Nearly a decade later, Turkish is canon at the Woods, and it’s played every week at Chimney Point as well.
That still leaves the questions, though, of where did it come from? Who invented it? And why does it have such a unique name?
Like most traditions at Pine Cove, Turkish Delight has an origin story, and let’s just say it’s no surprise that Broflex made a push to make it a staple at the Woods.
The need for something new
“We’re playing Turkish Delight!”
Broflex looked over at Jimbo “TMI” Mercer with confusion. Neither of them knew what Jason “Clogen-Dazs” Delph was talking about, but they just had to go with it.
It was the summer of 2008, and the Timbers was running its first-ever week of camp. There was no Wind Cave. There was no ropes course. There wasn’t even a pool.
“We had fields and a dining hall and cabins for them to sleep,” Broflex said. “Every day, we’re trying to figure out how to use these fields without doing the same things over and over and over again.”
Jimbo, the program director of the Timbers that summer, had put two of his most creative counselors, Jason and Nick “Touched by an Angel” Pavey, on the job of coming up with a new game.
“The goal was, ‘Here’s two sticks, figure it out,’” Jimbo said. “You’re a Pine Cove staffer. You can do this.”
Campers were used to traditional games like ultimate frisbee and capture the flag, so the Timbers staff had to be creative in coming up with new activities that summer. This time, the game they came up with was a mixture of soccer, lacrosse, hockey, and handball.
The goal of the sport is to throw a size-three soccer ball into a medium-sized soccer goal. Like in handball, there is a crease around the goal that only the goalie can enter. The ball can be advanced by running with the ball, passing the ball, or dribbling the ball like a basketball or soccer ball.
Players wear flags around their waists to distinguish which team they are on, but the flags also serve as a way for defenders to force a turnover if the ball is in a person’s hands. If the ball is being passed or dribbled, the only way to force a turnover is by directly stealing the ball. The game has a running clock and is always moving, providing constant excitement for the players and those watching.
There are also a few crazy rules. There is basically no out-of-bounds, you are safe behind your own goal but not your opponent’s, and stepping into the crease results in a player having to “cockroach,” where they lay on their back and wiggle their arms and legs for ten seconds.
“We had to have something to do with a bunch of 8th and 9th grade boys, and that was somehow the best thing we could do,” Jason said.
Midway through Week 1, it came time to introduce the game at camper’s choice; Broflex, Jimbo, and Jason didn’t know if their game would make it through the day, much less the rest of the summer.
And they were still missing a name.
When it was their turn to announce their activity, Jason just blurted out “Turkish Delight.” It made no sense to anyone then, but the name has been the same ever since.
“This might be the only thing I can fully take credit for,” Jason said of naming the game. “Like a weird college kid, I used to say ‘Turkish Delight’ a lot. I don’t know why.”
The name was only a thought in his head because of C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and like the candy in the book, Jason felt like their creation would be “the game everyone’s going to want more and more of.”
Just like that, Turkish Delight became a hit at Pine Cove.
“That first day, it was like, ‘This is the best thing ever.’ It was instantaneous,” Broflex said. “The next day, we did camper’s choice, and everybody was coming to Turkish. It took off immediately, not just with campers, but the staff were loving it.”
Jimbo even said that staffers were wanting to play it on the weekends, which began to embed Turkish even further into the Timbers culture. He credits Jason and Nick for getting the rest of the camp to rally around the new activity.
“I think the campers liked it because of [Jason] Delph and [Nick] Pavey,” Jimbo said. “Anything they loved, everyone else at our camp loved.”
During summer 2022, the Timbers brought Turkish Delight back for the first time in years, but Turkish has since made its name at a new camp: the Woods.
“You want us to play what?”
When Broflex took over as camp director of the Woods in 2013, he had big shoes to fill, following Craig “Dutch” Langemeier (now Pine Cove’s President).
Hoping to add fun new elements to the Woods culture, Broflex introduced the idea of a Turkish Delight game between the boys in the oldest kids program, Impact, and their dads.
It was a hard sell for parents who were used to drinking coffee and riding horses.
“That first summer, people were not on board at all,” Broflex said. “I remember announcing it in front of the parents and telling the dads, ‘Hey, we’re going to play Turkish Delight,’ and it’s just like, ‘What? I’m not playing that.’”
After skepticism during summer 2013, Turkish began to gain credibility with Woods campers and staff over the next few summers.
More and more elements were added to make the event exciting. There was a practice game every Tuesday, trash talk from groups of sons during lunches, and even mullet headbands that said “Turkish” on the front and “Delight” on the back. Then, the big game would happen under the field lights on Friday night to end the week.
“Those were all things just to create buzz culture around it, excitement around it,” Broflex said. “After that, it became a thing where people expected it. Dads bring cleats to camp. Sons bring cleats to camp.”
Over the next decade, Turkish Delight continued to become more and more important to the Woods, eventually becoming one of the most well-known elements of Woods culture.
When Chimney Point, the family camp in Pine Cove’s Southeast region, was founded in 2017, they even started making Turkish Delight a part of their weekly schedule as well.
Jason, Nick, and Jimbo brought their families to the Woods during summer 2022 and experienced Turkish Delight in a much different setting than the one in which they created it 14 years earlier.
“When I came back to family camp this summer, it was my first time back at camp since I worked at camp, and I had no idea what a big deal it was at Pine Cove,” Jason said. “Boddy said, ‘This is one of the guys who helped create it and made it,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t know that was cool!’”
“I was really excited to see what it had become. It was really humbling, because I thought I was awesome at the game and created it as a 22-year old,” Jimbo said. “I got back as a 35-year-old and I can barely run. It was ridiculous. I had to re-learn the rules, but it was a great time.”
Heading into summer 2023, Turkish Delight is alive and well at Pine Cove. Both the Timbers and the Woods now have pools, ziplines, and other fun activities, but the excitement and intensity of Turkish makes it a continued hit with campers and staff.
Who knows when the next hit game at Pine Cove will be invented? In fact, it may have already been introduced. For now, though, Turkish Delight continues to be the game that everyone wants more and more of.
Posted Feb 24, 2023
Categories: Camp Culture (Browse all)