Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Camp: Then and Now

The RevGalBlogPals have brought a "Friday Five" that hits the spot! Here goes....

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

I'm not certain I ever attended day camp, but I know I went to sleep away camp at Pathfinder Lodge. Staying at camp for a week was so much my norm, it's actually the modern day inclination toward day camp that seems odd to me! My camp of choice was Pathfinder Lodge, an American Baptist Church in Cooperstown, NY. I can still picture one of my counselors, Debbie, with her hair in Princess Leia-like braids--blonde and beautiful, swinging her legs as she sat on the diving board....the same diving board that was wisely removed years later by my sister-in-law due to major safety concerns.

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

I have mixed feelings about camping out as vacation. We own an amazing tent, and for the first few years of owning it, we'd actually bring it on every summer visit to Matt's parents' house. Before the kids were born, the tent was a place of passion! It's not nearly as pleasant to sleep as a family of four there, despite that it is large. Anyway, Matt's parents live on a large piece of property, and at the time we had essentially no yard--they were our camping destination of choice. But there were privileges in that arrangement, of course--access to indoor plumbing, a nearby kitchen, etc. I have camped in a more rustic environment as well, but those memories all seem to have rain in them somewhere....and it doesn't matter how amazing the tent is after days of rain. Things are just going to get wet!

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

Oh yes, yes, yes! I was a counselor and worked in the kitchen at Pathfinder. I have stated for years to Matt that when I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes sprinkled in Lake Otsego--Pathfinder is just that special to me. (Of course, with my new passion for the Farmington River, we might have to spread the dust over a few favorite waterways!) My maternal grandfather was at Pathfinder as a counselor the night my mother was born--the very first year the camp was opened. My parents met there, and indeed I met my fabulous partner and spouse there as well. We married in the chapel right on the edge of the lake, and I am still stirred to walk into that space. The Spirit of God is just present there for me, and I suspect my faith was most significantly shaped by my time at camp.

My daughter and I went to Camp Wightman, CT's American Baptist camp, for the first time this summer. I was amazed to find myself in love with Wightman, too, and eager for Kyra and Lucas to cultivate a relationship to this place so they might have the sorts of memories I have of Pathfinder.

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

Dramatic? Hmmm....this one is a little gross. I am not a fan of vomit--I'm actually vomit-phobic. Anyway, one summer while counseling (bear in mind that I was a recent high school graduate....), a stomach virus hit camp. It hit camp hard--and it started in my cabin, with a sweet, chubby, blonde-haired little girl who threw up all over her bed. I wanted to run away, truly I did, but somewhere in me, a voice said, "You are the only mother she has right now," and I was able to hug her, wash her hair strand by strand, and essentially become the person I never imagined I could be. The vomit was everywhere that week....and the week after....and the week after....and eventually, when camp was entirely done, it caught up with me. Gosh, that was awful. And that night, precious Matt took care of me.

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

This shouldn't be hard for me, but it is! There are many songs I loved and love--Rejoice in the Lord Always, This is the Day. I'm sure there are others, but they're alluding me at the moment. I'm simply grateful for guitars, a dark sky lit only by the campfire and fireflies, and the sounds of voices raised in praise.


Mary Beth said...

Good on you for taking care of the kiddos! and you went ahead to have kids of your own, now there's fortitude!

Olive Oyl said...

When did you go to Pathfinder and when did you work there? I also went there for years as well as worked there two summers...