I’m not sure when, exactly, we can declare something a tradition, but after the sixth year of doing something, I feel like we’re there. Well this year we decided to give our tradition a name – Operation Manitou.

Since 2012 my family has made it a point to take a week and go to the beach together. We started in Destin, FL, and the trip has since migrated to various destinations in the southeast. The trips are what you would expect, lots of beach time, eating out at seafood restaurants, a family photo, movie nights, etc.
However, one of the hallmarks of this trip is book reading.

Both of my brother’s girls, Maria and Sophia, are avid readers. Sophia though, is truly passionate about it. Each year she brings a pile of books for all of us to choose from, each one thoughtfully selected with the various family members in mind. This all started when, to her horror, she discovered that at her young age she had read WAY more books than I had, in my not-as-young years. Admittedly I was never much of a reader, and somehow managed to get through school without actually reading any of the book assignments. Well, this just wouldn’t do for either of the girls. At one point in their earlier years they decided that they wanted to run a retirement home, which obviously Holly and I would live in so they could take care of us, and suddenly reading became a stipulation for me to get in! The mandate was made… I had to read 50 books before they would allow me to live in their retirement home!

For this year’s reading assignment (at some point I’ll need to read more than one book a year or I’ll die in the cold alley behind said retirement home) I chose City Boy, by Herman Wouk. The book chronicles, in hilarious fashion, the goings on of an overweight city kid named Herbie.

Partway through the book, Herbie and sister Felicia are sent off to summer camp, Camp Manitou, and as I was reading the funny events of the children’s summer, I was inspired. I thought, since we always take our vacation in the summer, it is sort of like a summer camp. And just like City Boy, something comical ALWAYS happens while we’re away (which, by the way, generally involves some level of failure on Holly and I’s part to act as proper chaperones for the girls). What better tribute to the fun we have, and the girl’s passion for reading, than to name our tradition as a nod towards the stories we’ve shared. After some brainstorming, we landed on Operation Manitou. And thus is shall be called from here forward. 🙂

–Dan Thompson

Tybee Island