A new segment starting here on the Winona Camps Blog is going to highlight different Winona events and traditions. This post, we are taking a closer look at a camper and counselor favorite: Banana Split Night! Enjoy.
Once during each session something special happens when the campers are least expecting it: the “World Famous Banana Split Night” banner gets dropped and the cheers from campers and counselors alike can be heard all throughout Maine. When this banner is dropped, it signifies the best night of dessert that Winona has to offer.
While campers and counselors enjoy dinner, the Counselors-In-Training (CITs) set up the Banana Split stations outside. With two rows of tables, four kinds of ice cream and toppings galore, the scene is set for all types of creations to be made. As dinner finishes up, the gummy bears, chocolate fudge, whipped cream, cherries, and any other toppings one can imagine await the campers and counselors, but it takes some effort to earn those “splits”. When the final dinner bell rings, the Unit Directors walk over to their respective units and they become the judges; the judges who decide which table gets the first spot in line to make the highly anticipated Banana Split. In order to be selected to get in line, the tables of campers and counselors decide what kind of act, skit, or scene they want to perform at the table. In the past tables have transformed into parties with a choreographed dance by each camper, balancing spoon on nose competitions, police officers looking for the perpetrator who stole the ice cream, and something as creative as campers voting for their favorite candidate “Splits” while “Splits” gives a speech to the table (pictured below). It’s unknown what factors the Unit Directors use each time to make their decisions, but when they see something they like, they select that table to go outside which is always greeted with cheers as the members of that table rush outside in excitement for the Banana Split creation station that awaits them outside. This process continues until all the tables have been selected and make it into the line outside the Dining Hall full of eager campers and counselors.
When the campers and counselors reach the first stop at the tables, the CITs greet them with smiles and ask them which flavor of ice cream they would prefer. The choice is among chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and cookie dough – sometimes the decision is so hard that two flavors have to be chosen (and that is totally allowed)! After the banana boat is filled with three scoops of ice cream, it is time for the toppings. As seen above, campers and counselors continue down the line and fit as many of their favorite toppings as they want on top of their ice cream. When the end of the line is reached, a CIT holds up a can of whipped cream and offers to top-off your Banana Split. A cherry is then sometimes thrown on top and the time to dig into the mountain of ice cream and toppings is just moments away. When back inside the Dining Hall, everyone sits back at their tables and enjoys the Banana Splits with laughter and joy in the air.
At Winona, we have learned that there are typically two different kinds of Banana Splits. The first kind is the classic. The classic Banana Split has the correct proportion of ice cream to toppings and is usually able to mostly be kept within the banana boat throughout the whole process from the creation to the walk back to the Dining Hall. An example of the classic can be seen in the photo above of Uncle Al. The second type of Banana Split can be compared to that of a mountain. As seen in the picture on the left, George’s whipped cream and toppings mountain over the edge of the banana boat. This type of Banana Split is definitely the more common kind here on the shores of Moose Pond and a trail of toppings can often be seen following the camper or counselor who is holding it. Both kinds are widely accepted here as long as fun is had throughout the creation process, as well as the eating (devouring) of the Banana Split.
We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about one of Winona’s favorite traditions -Banana Split Night! Keep checking back periodically to see which tradition is posted
Until next time,