I finally understand why my sister loves summer camp


For the fourth year in a row I spent Labor Day Weekend at Camp Tockwogh with a bunch of Unitarians. I headed for camp Saturday evening, after the Indy Hall Celebration/Viddler MealToday Giveaway.  I rolled into camp just in time to catch the end of the campfire.  My friends had squirreled away some s’mores makings, hiding them from the swarms of kids who, after toasting all the available marshmallows, lit their toasting sticks on fire and proceeded to have sword fights with their flaming lengths of tree limb.

I spent large chunks of the weekend doing my very best imitation of the sloth, choosing to move only for meals, trips to the bathroom and a couple of outings on a kayak.  I read a book, wrote a couple of pages of my thesis, caught up with Cindy who is now firmly ensconced in her new job and life, made plans for Seth’s going away party and carried the melody in a rendition of John Prine’s Paradise.

Until I got out of town, I hadn’t realized the amount of stress I’d been carrying in my body.  My throat has felt perpetually tight for the last week, a ailment that I kept blaming on everything except tension.  As I drove out of town, I could swallow freely for the first time in days.  Thankfully, I didn’t pick it up again on my way back into town and I’m hoping not to rediscover it in my apartment, hidden in the hall closet or behind the bathroom door.

If you’re interested in reading more of what I’ve written about church camp (I didn’t realize I’d done quite so much writing about it until just now) there’s a piece I wrote for a class last year after the jump.  My professor wanted me to turn it into a short story, but without the motivation of an official assignment, it never happened.

I am stretched out in a sleeping bag, having just awakened from a mid-morning nap in the sun at Camp Tockwogh.  The weekend has been filled with kayaking, reading, campfires and a late night of drinking and talking in the meadow.

We came out a day early, driving through pouring rain.  We arrived a little after 9 pm to a deserted camp.  I pulled open the heavy door of the lodge feeling like the character in a horror move that gets killed in the first three minutes.  We found the caretaker, a weather beaten old guy who smelled like campfire and water from the bay.

That night the rain fell in huge droplets.  If it had it been slightly colder we would have had hail the size of walnuts.  The rhythm of raindrops hitting the cabin roof kept changing from a steady, hypnotic downpour to sudden frenzied wind blown outbursts, making it hard to get solid sleep.  Jessica worried the whole night that a tree was going to fall onto our roof and made me question my wisdom in choosing a top bunk.

The next morning was beautiful.  I stepped out of the cabin just before 8 am and was overcome with the fragrance.  The rain had encouraged the moss, trees, grass, vines and other foliage climb to a pinnacle of alive-ness, and they radiated fresh, unsullied greenness into the meadow.  The pine trees added their sappy, nutty scent to the mix.  It made me hungry, but in a way that food doesn’t satisfy.

Through the weekend kids were constantly tearing across gravel paths on bikes.  Someone set up a table full of arts and crafts supplies on the porch of the lodge.  Mike fell in love with the origami and made a folded paper fortune teller, which he used to predict the coming months.  My favorite meal has been meatball hoagies and chicken nuggets, the veritable heights of junk food-dom.

Now it’s Monday afternoon and time to leave.  The cabin is all packed up.  A few from our group just headed to the swimming pool to grab a few last minutes of sun and water.  I sat on the edge and took pictures of people floating languidly in the pool, or stretched out on the grass, reading.

Life has changed a lot in the past year.  I keep thinking about the people who have left my life, and of all the people who have arrived.  There is part of me that wishes I could move back and forth through the different periods of my life at will, pulling my various experiences and friendships along with me through the ether.  But that’s not the way things happen and I’m okay with that.  These days I work on being content with the present moment, knowing that if my past is any measure, the future will wonderful.

0 thoughts on “I finally understand why my sister loves summer camp

  1. Colin Devroe

    Sounds like a great time and a great “getaway”. Glad you had fun. I’m looking forward to my vacation at the end of this month… 1 week, completely unplugged. Ahhhhh.


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