Summer Camp and the living's easy
Summer camp buses are leaving parking lots all over the nation headed for a week or so of fun and games, laughter and tears, and a world where freedom and fear fight for center stage in the lives of thousands of kids this summer.
I, personally, attended camp only one time as a child. It was the summer after second grade. I was barely eight-years-old and had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. My parents signed me up, because ten days for twenty-five dollars was a good deal. Ten days, my goodness, the world was created in six days. Neither of my parents had ever gone to camp. My older brother had attended a few camp-outs with the Boy Scouts, but I think my venture into the “real” camp scene was the first for our family. Obviously, I went unprepared.
The summer before, I had swimming lessons. This included one week of pretending to swim by walking along the shallow end of the pool and doing a nice imitation of the Australian Crawl. I had neither jumped off the side of the pool, nor had I gone down the slide, after five days of lessons. I must tell you, the pseudo-swimming lessons were taught in a concrete swimming pool. The swimming at camp was in a small pond … where boating and fishing were also included for some girls. I’m telling you, there were real, live fish in that water … and mud on the bottom. It’s hard to fake an Australian Crawl when you are dodging fish and wading through mud. I cried.
We slept on rows of cots inside an open cabin with screened-in walls and flaps to keep out the rain … which came almost every night. I, like the other girls, brought along an army surplus trunk filled with my clothing and other items that had been listed on the instructions. We were to bring items for good hygiene: like a toothbrush (mine never got wet), a hairbrush, a bar of soap, and a towel. Last on the list and missing from my trunk was a drinking cup. I didn’t have one, didn’t tell anyone, and therefore avoided the water faucet in the bathroom … thus the dry toothbrush.
The event would have been a secret if I hadn’t talked in my sleep. Horror upon Horrors, someone heard me, and the story became a big joke the next morning at breakfast. “Drink-ing-cup … Drink-ing-cup,” they moaned. I laughed on the outside and inside I blamed my mother. How could she send me off so ill-prepared? She also forgot the glass bottle which we were going to paint during art class, but the teacher had another one, and no one knew she gave it to me. It was prettier than the ones we had at home, so … there.
If my parents had known that many of the girls got letters from home, it would have helped. If that horse they gave me to ride had not been afraid of a screaming eight-year-old when he began to trot down the path, it would have helped. If my towel hadn’t been left in the shower (maybe on purpose) and I had bathed more often, it might have been better.
Some of it was great. I made some great friends. Our counselors sang harmony at night … probably to cover my sniffling. The food was delicious. The scenery was sublime, and the mosquitos bit some of the other girls more than me. They probably smelled better: they took a lot of showers.
As I see those buses leaving the church parking lots, I think, “Drink-ing-cup”. Give the kid a drinking cup.