On summer evenings my greatest pleasure is sitting on the porch and reading. My porch has soft lighting and wood everywhere; bare wood and rough wood. The ceiling is the roughest wood of all, and my husband wants to paint it. Oh, no! That would be a travesty. I knew it would, but I didn’t know why… until I sat out on the porch this week.
I heard thunderstorms in the distance. I stopped reading to listen and just be in the moment. I was transported back to my childhood at summer camp, Camp Dekanawida in Salt Rock, WV. This was overnight camp. There were no day camps or sports camps. Camp was, well… real camp. We slept in a cabin, learned swimming and archery, sang songs every morning and evening. I remember the nighttime counselor hunt, the bonfires, and the hikes. To this day, I can still sing the camp song. Every word.
It’s been sixty years. Seems like yesterday.
My porch and all the rough wood, along with the thunderstorms, brought me back to my childhood and to summer camp. That’s why I didn’t want to paint or change the wood. It was a link to my best memories and to what shaped me as a child, and as an adult.
I love music. Today I sing with gusto, and pull children into songs from patriotic to fun. I introduce them to opera, and classical music. We sing,”Old MacDonald” in Italian. I am constantly humming and bringing music to children. I know this all started with Morning Sing at Camp Dekanawida.
I love stories; telling stories and reading aloud began at camp in the cabin, and around the campfire. No, it did not begin at home. Summer camp was full of stories. There was nothing else but each other and the big, wide world. So, stories and talking, and getting along were important. Ghost stories were scary, yet fun.
I learned to be brave. I mastered a jackknife dive. I went into the woods at night. I pitched a tent.
In the words of the classic book, Charlotte’s Web, “…where there would be no parents to guard them or guide them.” We had each other.
Fast forward to today at my school’s summer camp. Jackson is in my group. He is now seven (a big guy). Years ago he was in my preschool class and the champion of my chapter reading. It is wonderful to connect with a child again! We haven’t missed a beat.
So what happened here? We sat outside to talk and laugh. Then we fooled around inside. Bunny ears on the photo were perfect. Camp and the great outdoors will do that. I am giving Jackson and my other campers a small taste of camp in my childhood. Summer and camp brings all the important things to life: laughing and being silly, and discovering the wonders of the great outdoors.
It’s the best. I learned that sixty years ago.