Emma Wycoff received her “Unique” bead this summer at Camp Howard. It is the final and most difficult bead to acquire and puts her in the category of legends such as Joey Harrington and Rev. Paul Grubb SJ both of whom received all of the beads over the years at camp.
The beads are part of an award known as the “Cougar Award”, given weekly to generally one camper per cabin per week during the summer. The award is given to those who best exemplify good conduct, Christian values, camper assistance and good old fashion goodness, all week at camp.
The last night of camp features the Cougar Campfire which, after the songs are sung, the Cougar Award ceremony begins with counselors talking about their award winners and why they selected the person they selected. The camper stands with their counselor and glows with pride as as the counselor waxes on about their wonderful qualities.
Generally a new cougar award is given in each cabin (as long as a worthy candidate is identified) and later in the ceremony, a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth bead may be given if deserved!
What is this Cougar Award? After research, I was able to come up with the historical meaning of each of the beads as established in the early 60’s by Fr. Gimpl. The original Cougar Award was a leather fob with a Cougar image stamped in foil on the leather. It was later replaced in the late 80’s with a round plastic cougar stamped with foil. In 1998, we were able to restore the award back to leather and had a stamp made to impress the image of the cougar with the words “Cougar Award” into the leather.
The first bead given today is the red bead which signifies FIRE and has it ties to the Holy Spirit and the fire the Spirit ignites in our being to example the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
The second bead is the green bead, reminding us of the EARTH, and the value of the gift of creation which we have been charged to care for.
The third bead is the YELLOW bead, which reminds us of the SUN and the life-giving qualities produced by the sun which takes us to the
Fourth bead, BLACK in color which signifies DEATH and that through the dying process we enter into new LIFE = the fifth bead, WHITE in color.
The final bead is the UNIQUE bead which inspires us as unique individuals to be faithful to our Christian values in the way God has intended for us to live them.
So you see, the Cougar Award is filled with significant meaning. Congratulations to Emma Wycoff and her cougar accomplishments.
If YOU received a Cougar Award at Camp Howard, please respond to this post, let us know when you received it and how many beads you received!