The Rag Society is a YMCA camp tradition that started in 1914 at YMCA Camp Loma Mar (Alameda County, California). Originally the Rag was a simple blue bandana and was called a Rag to signify that it had no intrinsic value in and of itself, but it is rather a symbol of the outstanding qualities a person was demonstrating.

Thomas Caldwell was the originator of the idea and it later spread to other YMCA Camps all over.

Since the initiation of the Ragger's program there have been thousands of people around the world initiated into The Rag Society.

The specifics of what each rag mean seem to change somewhat camp to camp however.

The general order is as follows at the camp I attended:
Blue, Silver, Brown, Gold, Red, Purple, White
(Providing of course that my memory is entirely intact.)

The goal of the Raggers' program is to force people to seriously look at their selves, their relationships, and their beliefs.

Each Rag signfies a specific goal to achieve and a personal commitment unique to each individual. The Rag is simply a way of showing your commitment to helping better yourself in specific ways.

There were two literary works which you had to learn as a Ragger at YMCA Camp Tippecanoe, the first was the Raggers' Creed the second is a poem by Edgar Guest called Myself... 10 years later both are still burnt into my mind and I'll always remember them and try to live in the manor they set forward (I do really well except the humble part... but can I help it that i'm nearly a demi-god? *grin*.)

Raggers' Creed
I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare;

I would be friend to all-- the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving, and forget the gift;
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love and lift.

Myself by Edgar Guest (Blue Rag)
I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.

I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself up in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and wealth,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to think as I come and go
That I'm bluster and bluff an empty show.

I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself-- and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

The camp started the program the year before I was to old to continue attending, so I only acheived a Blue Rag... which I still have and take out occasionally to remind me how I should live my life. In general however, I am quite proud of how I have lived my life and how I treat the people around me, and in retrospect-- I 'blame' it on the ideals of The Ragger Society.

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