My mind works in mysterious ways so this morning I awoke to memories of summer camp. I didn’t give much thought to attending camp when I was a kid. My friends went and I heard stories of their adventures, but I was resigned to the realities of my life- most of our summers were spent in the cotton fields and the vineyards. There was no time or money for camp, especially for our family’s oldest worker. However, the year that I turned twelve a group of earnest Sunday School teachers decided that I must experience the joys of camp life and they agreed to pay my fee. They must have also been very persuasive to convince my father to let me relinquish my ranch duties for a week. I will be forever grateful to them for their kindness and generosity.
It seems strange that I should recall so much of that experience. I suppose it is imprinted in my mind because it was so different and such a privilege. I even remember getting on the bus and waving to my mother. I remember being in awe of just how many children attended the camp. The photo shown here is half of our group. I knew the children from our church, but it was exciting to meet so many others.
Our activities that summer were very traditional. The girls learned crafts and the boys learned how to fish and row a boat. I can see us sitting around a picnic table in the shade of the pine trees and putting together something made of Popsicle sticks. I think it was a picture frame. I also recall making something with dark brown clay. And I got third place in a drawing contest!
I don’t know what they do now, but in 1962 the boys and girls groups swam at different times so as not to see each other half naked. Not that we could even be half naked. LOL I had a very conservative swimsuit and mother made me promise to wear shorts over it.
I was surprised that camp included work! I was assigned to the kitchen and had to help do the dishes once a day. And we had to keep our cabins clean. There was no escaping cleanliness, even in the pine forest!
At night we gathered around a fire and roasted marshmallows. We had devotionals and prayers and singing, lots of singing. I loved that part the best!
Above all else, camp was about talking and giggling far into the night. My friend and I discussed the day’s events, the children we met, the lessons we learned, the sights and smells of the forest, the new foods, anything and everything for as long as we could keep our eyes open.
I was blessed to experience camp three more times in my life, but I don’t think any year was as wonderful as the first one.
I know many parents, especially moms, worry about their children being homesick at camp. They worry about safety. They worry about comfort. They just worry…
I’m here to tell you that camp can be a wonderful experience and the memories last a lifetime. Put them on the bus and wave goodbye!
(I'm in the second row from the bottom, second from the left.)