Greetings from a wonderful initial summer at Camp Belton where, in these two weeks with your children, I’ve hardly had a moment to breathe. Nonetheless, after several hundred phone calls from concerned parents, I would like to address the ludicrous allegations, spawned by a recent 60 Minutes segment, that Camp Belton is not a traditional co-ed sleep-away camp but, rather, a “cult” indoctrinating its campers in the philosophy of a figure named Joseph the Sage, who is, according to testimonies from my nine estranged full and half-siblings, based on my late father, Joe Belton.
As the “news” program indicated, your kids are getting lots of time outdoors, tending to a 300-acre garden whose sole plant is Salvia officinalis, better known as the herb sage. I’m sure you’ll agree that young people need discipline more than ever in the modern world, and that 14-hour workdays are just what the doctor ordered—speaking of which, sage itself is recommended by an increasing number of holistic practitioners for its salubrious qualities, such as bolstered female fertility.
Belton has a terrific theater space, but instead of reviving some dusty production, we are putting on an original musical written by… yours truly! The campers are having a ball staging Joe the Sagacious, from reenacting my father’s idyllic Nebraska childhood to his harrowing Vietnam tour of duty in which he received the first of his Eight Visions to his 1975 Utah marriage to the Three Fertile Concubines Linda, Elsa, and Beatrice.
We have been happy to entertain all dietary-restriction requests, though you will also find in your release form, in the footnote on page 83, the clause permitting us to flavor all food served at the camp with sage. From our legal team, as quoted on 60 Minutes: “The explicit and/or implicit conditions stated within the release form include meals composed entirely of sage.”
Fear not—our campers aren’t getting pudgy on tasty dinnertime sage shakes (sage mixed with a thin gruel devoid of any harmful “proteins” that delay onset of menarche). They’re playing plenty of sports, such as soccer (loser has to work 16 hours in the garden!), “sage”-ball, and daylong games of basketball designed to break down the reflexive but deeply misguided human-will resistance to accepting a common garden herb as the panacea to all physical and spiritual maladies.
Well, it’s getting hard to write now that construction has started for the day on the Shrine of Joe containing mementoes from my father’s 1984-87 travels through Indonesia (site of the Fourth and Fifth Visions), exhibits touting sage’s ameliorative effects on the ovaries, and a mausoleum containing the sage-flecked ashes of the corporeal bodies of my father and the Three Fertile Concubines. Please note that this year’s parents’ visiting weekend has been canceled due to a lighter-than-expected sage harvest, but your children will soon be sending along signed and notarized letters updating you on their activities and expressing their voluntary and legally binding interest in remaining at Camp Belton for an undetermined period, free of charge.
Enjoy the enclosed packet of sage at your leisure and in accordance with protocol outlined in the Sixth and Seventh Visions.
In Sagacity (meaning wisdom but also the new name of our tax-exempt township),
— Nicholas Belton,
Camp Belton Director/Scion of the Sage Dynasty