Camp does not feel settled until we fly flags on the roof. Since 1990, flags designed by school children have accompanied the camp's American flag. Boy Scouts visiting the camp have also flown their troop flags. I flew the New York State flag for about a decade (it eventually deteriorated), and once even flew the flag of Texas in honor of an exceptional man.
This year we introduce the flag of Macandrew Bay school in Dunedin, New Zealand. I have visited the students there to discuss our Antarctic research and to tell a few tales, and hope to see them again on my way home to the U.S. in December. Dunedin is Claire's home town, so she talks to the students about art in Antarctica.
Speaking of Claire, she recently had a flag returned to her that she made 22 years ago to mark an art exhibition held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It now flies on the West end of the Jamesway. See her blog entry for details.
We also sport flags made by Ms. Tina King's class in Tennessee (the orange flag), and Ms. Danielle Colletta's class in Yorktown Heights, New York (the blue flag with student's hand prints). They are sooooo beautiful! I'll have to show you more details in future posts.
The flags are not just for decoration, though. The helicopter pilots love them because they show wind direction, which is an essential piece of information for safe take-offs and landings. The flags let us know how hard the wind is blowing when we are working or sleeping inside. Thrumming flags can signal the beginning of dangerous catabatic winds. If we are awakened by the flags flapping wildly at night, we rush outside and make sure the snowmobiles are covered and everything is tied down.
But most of the time the flags are warm reminders of home. They make camp a little brighter and a whole lot warmer.