The Great White Newt Regatta was a Hahobas tradition going back over 15 years. The Scouts are given 3 'blue barrels' on which to build their rafts, using mostly natural materials found around camp: wood poles, bark, moss, and rope.
The barrels are tied together in a variety of ways, some more successful than others in staying afloat. The racers launch the rafts at the South end of Robbins Lake, and upon a group belly flop by several Scoutmasters off the swimming float nearby, the race is on!
The first raft to make it across the lake to Swan Lodge is the winner. If you capture the 'Newt Egg', you get an extra prize. Most rafts never make it past the end of the dock, and fly apart in some very spectacular ways.
How it all got started:
Camp Staffer Tanner Kay sat outside with Daniel D'Haem and Lee Jones after the last day of camp of the summer of '99 had ended - and we dreamed this up together. I wrote it up in the 2000 Program Guidebook, put it in the mail, and left the office for the last time.
I've never witnessed the Great White Newt Regatta. But,16 years later, the campers are still doing this every summer. This makes me very, very happy.
One of the best things about working at camp is that there is nobody there to stop you from doing whatever you think is fun, and everything that you tell campers is cool - they think is cool. Damn I want to go back.
I wrote a song about this too, but I don't think it ever caught on:
'In Robbins Lake our mascot lives, the Great White Newt by name, his existence is to fill our lives with terror grief and pain, we wear him on our shirts more as a warning than a theme, 'cause each summer we're are few scouts shy and no one hears them scream...'
- Tanner Kay, Hahobas Camp Staffer, 1999.