Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five: Summer Camp

Yay! A Friday Five up early enough for me to do! And on one of my very favorite summer topics! Mother Laura writes:

"We're settling into our new new apartment, and after a lifetime at Montessori Katie is having a fantastic summer at YMCA day camp. Meanwhile, Nicholas is packing up for a week at Camp Julian, shared by the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego. His lists of supplies and rules--except for the ropes course available to the teenagers and the ban on IPODs and cell phones--bring back memories of my own happy times weeks at Y camp Ta Ta Pochon, funded by selling countless cases of butter toffee peanuts. So, in celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp. "

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?

I wemt to
camp in NC for two months the sumer I turned ten and a month the next year. I longed to go back to that wonderfully nurturing place (where the Lovely Daughter is a counselor as I write), but my father then packed me off to Michigan for a two month summer and then Minnesota. I liked the Michigan camp fine, but by the time I got to Minnesota, I was too old to start over. My dad never "got" the importance of renewing summer friendships which is so integral to camp life.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?

Well, it's a lot of work, that's for sure. We used to tent camp a lot, we backpacked some, and took family backwoods canoeing trips with my dad and late stepmother. He loves to go to
Algonquin in Ontario. We spent a great week camping in a lean-to in the Adirondacks with our kids when they were small, but it was exhausting. My idea of the ideal trip these days involves a cabin with beds and a kitchen from which one could hike or canoe all day long and then retreat to a real mattress and a dinner that did not require the building of a fire as a prerequisite.

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?

I've never had any involvement with church camps beyond occasional adult retreats.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?

Not dramatic, but good memories:

North Carolina: an evening when the sunset was so magnificent that the entire camp sat out in a field just watching.

Michigan: backacking on
South Manitou and skinney-dipping at midnight in Lake Michigan.

A family picnic at the top of a very small mountain in the Adirondacks.

Loon take-offs in Algonquin.

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.

Here are the lyrics to We Come From the Mountains. Here, amazingly, is a video. At "our" camp, they add a final verse, "We come from Gwynn Valley. . ." -- and the whole thing is sung MUCH more energetically. But you get the idea.

I often say that Gwynn Valley saved my life. I went there as a young girl from a family in collapse, and got to be strong and independent and resourceful. It was also the place where my enjoyment of diverse peoples and cultures was first nourished -- then, as now, the counselors were from all over the world. I still think sometimes of Sami and Shane, young men from Lebanon and Ireland who co-counseled a cabin of little boys way up on what seemed a Himalayan peak at the time, and imagine what kind of place the world could be if everyone had a chance to go off to play in mountain waterfalls for a summer with people from dozens of different countries.

12 comments:

Sally said...

Great play, I tend to agree with you about the need for a real mattress and something to cook on.

Have a great summer.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

what a beautiful reflection! i think you're onto something 'bout how different it would be if every child got that shaping & spirit-filled experience...

Diane said...

I totally get you about renewing relationships every year! that is an important part of it, isn't it?

Mother Laura said...

What a powerful reflection on the healing power of nature and a loving community. Thank you.

Jan said...

What a connection to have LD at the same camp.

I've seen my youngest daughter renewing friendships each summer; she is the only one of my four who had consistent camp experiences each year. We didn't have enough money to send our first two to camp, and then didn't find out about one until we moved back to TX in 1994.

Auntie Knickers said...

Great play, and sorry you didn't have a good time in Minnesota! But I agree -- the relationships are important. Loved the song too.

Stratoz said...

the line about saving your life grabbed my heart. It is a joyful thing to feel appreciation for life savers.

Carol said...

As my son is enjoying his 5th summer at a camp in NW Wisconsin and my daughter is getting ready to return for a visit to the one at which she spent eight weeks for 6 summers, I am preparing to attend a 50th birthday/reunion with the women with whom I attended the same camp as my daughter. We'll gather in NYC far away from the lumpy saggy mattresses, mosquitoes, tranquil lake, melodic loons, and pine needles but near enough to renew those oh so valuable relationships that you mentioned.

hip2B said...

That was a lovely play...I am jealous of your summer at Gwynn Valley.

Althea N. Agape said...

Wow, I'm beginning to wonder about the density of summer camps in that area!

mompriest said...

Wow, GG...good reflection...made me remember, not camp, but summer days in college going skinny dipping with my room mates, a bunch of fun loving girls not afraid of water moccasin snakes (LOL)...ok naive...we threw rocks in the water to scare them away and then went swimming....
sigh....memories...

Kathryn said...

I loved camp. I never went to the same camp twice but had a variety of experiences including regular sleepaway camp, sailing camp, gymnastics camp...

My boys are both going to sleepaway camp for the first time this summer. I'm very excited for them.