On Camp

 

DSC_1457Elijah is done with school in a few days; Remy has a couple of weeks left. Other than a week of Mummy Mania for Elijah, the summer is wide open for us.

Except for not. There will be swim lessons, piano lessons, bike rides, popsicle sucking, public transportation taking, museum exploring, trips to Richmond, our annual vacation to Cape Cod, visits from friends and family, and day trips to orchards.

Our days will be full and fun, but there is still a part of me that wishes my kids were going to experience summer camp the way I did.

I went to day camp from the time I was really little at Cat’s CAP at St.Catherine’s (my friend Google informed me that the camp has been renamed “Brilliant Summer Camp”). I absolutely loved it: the “courses” I took, the people I met, the independence I gained. It was such a mishmosh of activities and people that I went there year after year and then worked there for several years. Camp, though it was only for a month and a half each year, had a huge impact on me.

I still think fondly on some of the skills I learned at camp: how to knit, how to make vegetarian moussaka, how to choreograph a dance with a friend, how to shoot a bow and arrow, how to write a movie review, how to carve a totem pole with an exact-o knife along with a bunch of other 7 year olds (yes, really).

I met people who made their living as actors and dancers and a wide variety of other arts. Most of the adults I knew outside of camp were doctors or lawyers or professors or business people. There’s nothing wrong with those professions (I happen to love a good many people in each of those categories today), but meeting those diverse individuals at camp gave a certain validity to alternative career paths (one which, frankly, I think I knew from early on that I would be following).

I only talk to one or two of the people I went to camp with today. Most of them were summer friends who went to different schools or even lived in different cities during the school year. But I can still remember how Shelley introduced me to Tori Amos and how one of the dance instructors (whose name I can’t even recall) showed me how to do the lift from Dirty Dancing, transforming me from an awkward adolescent into a girl who could almost fly. Camp provided early and valuable life lessons: people float in and out of our lives, so enjoy the time you have got with them. With true friends, you can not see each other for months, even years, and then when you’re reunited, it’s as if no time ever passed.

There was such a magical, non-competitive innocence to camp in those days. It was way too early for computers and phones to impact us (or anyone really), so we talked and laid in the sun during lunch breaks, soaking up each other’s company. In the end, it didn’t matter than camp was only a few weeks, that not all of the friends returned each year, that so many of the courses we took had no direct bearing on our future lives but were merely an opportunity to explore. Actually, that was the point all along.

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Sleep away camp, now that was a whole different beast. And a story for a different day.

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