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The Goon Guide

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Winter Camp / Media / Other / The Goon Guide

The Goon Guide

An Unauthorized History
and Handbook
for and of
The Grey Area Goons
Written by: Steve Donohue

This book is dedicated to the original goons, Tim Hunt and Dave Milon. This, their only real contribution to Winter Camp, has brought hours of entertainment to both youth and adults.
What's on this page
Goons Today
Wilsonís Rules of Order
Criteria of Goondom
The Goon Checklist


Much attention has focused in recent years on the group of Arrowmen known as "Grey Area Goons" or just plain "Goons" for short. This volume will attempt to detail the history of the goons as it has evolved at Winter Camp. We will also explore the broad line which seperates goons and adults. Also included in this book is the special "Are you a Goon?" test found in the back.


The Goons, like many of the more unsavory elements of Winter Camp, were created at Clearwater cabin and owe their existence to advisers John Howey and Steve Donohue. It should be noted that by todayís standards, Howey himself would probably have been a goon at that time and that Donohue is still considered a quasi-goon by both adults and goons alike. The first time the phrase "Grey Area Goons" was used was at Winter Camp XIV. Surprisingly, the context then was only mildly negative and the goons were considered a useful tool by Howey and Donohue.

Frustrated at the passing of their 21st birthdays, neither was happy as an adult as they found it restricted the level of physical and emotional violence they could inflict on the youth without feeling guilt. They turned to Dave Milon and Tim Hunt, both 18 at the time, for assistance. The two, while legally considered adults in the rest of the world, were youth for the purposes of Winter Camp. This made them ideal tools for the aging Donohue and Howey.

The initial intent of these goons was to motivate the younger members of the chapter, by force if necessary, to participate in events on a timely basis. Two of the earliest targets of this goon policing were Tom Ray and Lou Pezet. The goons made it their business to make the lives of the young campers a living hell, eventually overstepping the bounds of what even Howey and Donohue considered acceptable. They were rewarded for their efforts with a sort of "youth revolt" largely encouraged by Donohue and Howey. While both Milon and Hunt claimed this disrespect from the youth meant little to them, both became very angry and fumed for hours. Hunt did not return the following year but has since come to camp several times. Milon on the other hand, came for one night the following year and has not reappeared except to make a prank phone call to Winter Camp XIX and to attend its planning meeting.


The term goon was a handy one and over the next few years it evolved to become something much more similar to todayís definition. With no serious goons on hand at Winter Camp XV, the term was largely dropped in Clearwater, but not in Beaver Creek where it found a new home and a new meaning. In BC, the adults took the word "goon" at itís more original meaning of a rather stupid but strong person. In a later evolution it arrived at something close to itís current definition, which I would define as:

Goon (or Grey Area Goon) a Winter Camper over the age of 18 who fails to make contributions to Winter Camp commensurate with his perceived capabilities.

Under this new definition of Goon, several campers who had never displayed any penchant or skill for abusing their companions found themselves relegated to Goondom. Chief among these for many years was John Howey who did not "graduate" from Goon status until Winter Camp XVIII, although his graduation was officially recognized at Winter Camp XIX.

This change in the meaning of being a goon had a profound effect on Winter Campers. In the beginning, being a goon marked you as a special tool of the adults, very useful in convincing recalcitrant youth to participate more fully in the Winter Camp experience. The goons themselves further redefined the term by becoming more and more a stumbling block in the path of Winter Camp. Where once the goons were expected to motivate others to participate in the events, suddenly they themselves became the biggest detractors from events.

Goons Today

The goons took advantage of their relatively high position on the pecking order in order to secure for themselves a "goon homeland" of sorts in their wholesale adoption of Clearwater cabin as their home for Winter Camp. Living together, they soon developed their own sets of customs and traditions some of which had nothing to do with Winter Camp. At a very early stage in Goondom, they invented the game "Adviserati", a take off on the card game Illuminati. In Adviserati, the various advisers to Winter Camp attempt to control the game through control of the elements within the game. Even a brief study of the cards can provide a good overview of goon theory and politics.

Groups are given alignments such as "Fun" or "Dull", "Generous" or "Cheap", "Diligent" or "Sloth", and "Youth" or "Adult". Each adviser has his own set of victory conditions based on these alignments. Popular goon advisers have appealing victory conditions, like Steve Donohueís quest to control "Fun". Less popular adivers, like Mike Osvath or Jeff Rand have target like "Control Slothful groups" or "Destroy Youth". Neutral advisers have more or less neutral goals, like Roger Hornís quest to control eight "athletic" groups".

The alignments of the groups are also indicative of their feelings towards various activities. Newspaper editors are slothful and dull, while the goons themselves are youthful and fun. Throughout the entire game, those who follow rules and participate in Winter Camp are labelled as either "Dull" or "Adult" and those who ignore camp rules and create delays for everyone else are labeled as "Fun" or "Youth". There is also a bias in the assignment of power, income, and resistance, three key elements that determine the true value of controlling a group.

The goons also maintain later hours than the rest of camp and generally have a noisier cabin than BC. This means that even goons who would like to have sufficient rest to participate in the days events can find it difficult to get enough sleep. They also maintain the "cold roomí tradition, turning off the heat to their building before going to bed each night and thus making it even more difficult to secure a good nightís rest.

In the morning, the goons take advantage of their seperation from the main body of camp to sleep in and make the initial activity of each day run as late as possible. This becomes a pattern for them, with as many of them hiding out in their cabin before unpopular activities as possible for the rest of the day. They make every effort to remain undisturbed in their sloth and have been known to intimidate youth, other goons, and even the odd weak adult into leaving before delivering messages.

Wilsonís Rules of Order

The recent adoption of Wilsonís Rules of Order made several changes to the ranks of the Goons. First, it established them firmly as an official, named part of the Winter Camp Heirarchy, giving them voting rights and their own identity. Second, it created a specific transition methodology for them, requiring that they be accepted by the other adults present before they could join the ranks of adults.

For the goons, the decision has had a variety of effects. Some goons have taken it as a matter of personal pride to retain their goon status and might remain goons for the remainder of their Winter Camp careers. Other goons have begun actively spending time with the adults to curry favor for upcoming elections. The strangest thing is that the rules mandate the goons receive as many votes as the adults do and in most cases, individual goons have more power to sway the course of activities at Winter Camp than do the adults who are likely to carry them out.

Criteria of Goondom

While Wilsonís Rules mandate a simple method for the transition, they fail to discuss any potential criterion to use as a basis for oneís decision. I have taken the liberty of providing a few questions which could be considered before determining how you would vote. Coincidentally, this same set of questions can be used to determine if you yourself are a goon or a goon-candidate.

The Goon Checklist

  1. Does he have to be asked to change into appropriate clothing for outdoor events?
  2. Has he ever washed dishes he found in the sink dirty just because he knew someone should?
  3. Would you expect him to tell someone before buying trading post goods without the director being on hand to take the cash?
  4. Would you trust this person to serve as the lead cook on a meal more complex than a continental breakfast?
  5. Does he respect people based more on their size than their intelligence?
  6. Has he ever volunteered to lead an activity and then carried through as well or better than you expected an average person would?
  7. Would he consider the fact that he could "beat your ass" a valid reason to ignore your requests or advise?
  8. Has he ever volunteered for a work detail or other project willingly?
  9. Would this person allow a larger person to cut in front of him but not a smaller one?
  10. Can he put things away without having to ask someone where they go?

Score one point for each "No" answer for even questions and one for each "Yes" to odd questions. If these instructions confuse you, add two more points. If you score six or better, youíre probably dealing with a goon.


If you have just taken the test and discovered you are a goon, or if you would like to help a young man recover from his goondom, donít worry. It is possible to make a recovery from Goon status. It isnít easy, and it can take a lot of work. The following are a few things a goon can do to try and obtain adult status.

  1. Attend the Winter Camp planning meeting and bring some good ideas.
  2. While youíre there, volunteer to run a few activities or, heaven forbid, serve as a program or kitchen director.
  3. Once youíve volunteered to do something, do it!
  4. Come to camp with some new gadget or activity and let everyone try it.
  5. Bring an alarm clock to camp and use it.
  6. Get up once and cook breakfast for yourself and someone else.
  7. Stop bitching all the time