Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Good morning campers!

Do you wake up, on a beautiful summer morning and your first thought is back to when you were grade school age and this was your summer vacation? When Zeus talks about it his eyes get glassy and he has a beautiful smile on his face. Did your summer stretch out before you, with decisions about who to play with, what to do, where to ride your bike?

I'm about to go out and dig up that front walkway garden bed, plant the flowers I bought and mulch everything. I told Zeus it's NOT the fun part of gardening, for me, anymore. It's hard work, makes me sore but I'll be pleased when it's finished.

He asked me if creating out in the studio was play? Was that as close as I got to that feeling I had as a kid when summer began? ABSOLUTELY! Sitting down to a blank piece of canvas, spreading the gesso on and just letting myself relax into what wants to be painted.

Sitting down at the sewing machine with a handful of beautiful fabrics and creating a new piece of cloth out of them. OH MY IS THAT PLAY OR WHAT?

When I was grade school age we moved around a lot. Not a military brat but a restless mother with gypsy blood in her. So every three years I would have to make new friends and explore new territories in my new neighborhood.

My mother worked the day shift at the hospital and my father the night shift as a policeman. He was supposed to be taking care of me during the day. I'm sure that's how the rational went back in those days. They just ignored the fact that the poor man would probably be sleeping most of the day. I could have gotten in a lot of trouble, I suppose. But, that moving every three years turned me into a shy kid. I was an only child so I created my own worlds to play in.

By the time I was 9 my parents could afford to send me to camp. It had an Native American name and was probably somewhere in the Pine Barrens. For one week, I was in heaven.


I loved sleeping in a cabin. I loved the beautiful high school girls that were our camp counselors, they were so nice and they always managed to look freshly pressed in their starched white shirts and pressed cotton shorts. I loved the SMELL of the pine trees as I walked through the pine woods to get to the mess hall for meals. I will make Zeus pull the car over to the side of the road when we are out driving if I catch a whiff of pine scent. I just want to inhale it as if I can bottle it up inside me.

I loved the food, the silly names for the juice and milk. I loved being assigned to mess hall duty and often took the other girls turns just so I could spend time there. I loved the big open room with the rustic old tables and benches, the sturdy dishes and the cooks. I would wake up early and go down to set up the tables and happily stayed after a meal to bus them.
I loved my riding lessons. Looking back on it I'm not sure why exactly. I certainly didn't learn how to ride. We were just helped up on the backs of tired old horses and we followed or rather our horses followed each other nose to butt, along a path for a half hour and then back to the barn. It was the last 15 minutes when the horses knew they were headed back to the barn that we actually moved faster and from a plod to a trot.

I loved the kittens in the barn.

I loved brushing the horses.

During rest time, in the afternoon while we all lay in our bunks reading magazines, books or sleeping I would start to hum a song. That would turn into me singing all the songs. All of them from the sheet music my mother played, on the piano.

It wasn't until 8th grade that my voice changed from a lovely lilting soprano to an alto.

Oh, and craft time...............I don't know what to say. I could have stayed there forever.

When I was ten I begged, BEGGED to spend two weeks there. I had no clue that my parents were in the middle of separating. Or maybe I did know on some level and that's why I wanted to spend two weeks in heaven instead of listening to yelling and shouting and doors slamming.

They sent me and I spent 14 days with a smile on my face 24/7. At the last night campfire when songs were sung, skits acted out and awards presented, I won the GREEN FEATHER AWARD for best all around camper.

The next morning my father picked me up, alone. Apparently, my mother had gotten sick with the coxsackievirus. They had rushed her to the hospital and put her in an iron lung. She got better but to this day blames that virus on a number of health issues she has.

I never went to camp again. But, I hold those memories in my heart. For those 14 days I spent in pure joy, just being a kid.
I sent my kids to camp. I thought it was one of the best experiences they could have. I hope they thought so too.

:)Bea Create like you were a child with a child's eyes.


  1. Anonymous6:45 PM




  2. What an incredible story...I never got to go to an official camp but we slept outside our house in the backyard and thought we were really doing something :O). God bless you and I am glad your mother survived this mysterious disease. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  3. bea, i LOVE this green feather!! what an honor you received - best all around camper. really, that's wonderful! xo

  4. I can hear the joy of camp in your writing - what wonderful memories. I went to camp but it was for 8 weeks (we lived in the city, better to be away from the heat in the summer) but I didn't enjoy it like you did. Some parts I did like but I hated the sports parts as I was not a particularly athletic child!
    lovely to read your know that they now have camp for adults????

  5. I know, Janet. But, look on the bright side, where you live they changed how they pronounce it! lololsnort :)Bea

  6. Mary Helen, it took me until I had a computer and learned how to google stuff that I looked up the virus. Apparently, it's more common than I thought. Back then I guess they didn't know quite what to do with her. It did some damage to one of her lungs. Not good. :)Bea

  7. Lynne, you know they could have given me nothing and I would have been in heaven. Just being there was sooooooo much fun. :)Bea

  8. Mim, oh my, 8 WEEKS!!! Well, I can understand the sports part. All we did was swimming and boating and those I loved. :)Bea

  9. Ma - great story! I never knew that you enjoyed camp so much. Your story brought back some fond memories of my days at that YMCA camp near Alpine Valley (the name escapes me).

  10. I remember going to day camp through Camp Fire Girls. Camp Okiwani :)I distinctly remember us making candles the old fashioned way with the cauldon and all ;)so fun!

  11. Wow, you could have had my 2 weeks at camp if I could have given them to you! I cried every day & had 3 migraine headaches while I was there. Poor stay-at-home Joanie.
    But I do have the same kind of good, actually, very good, memories about other childhood times. That's a gift my parents gave me that I cherish~a wonderful, wonderful childhood (exept for that camp thing). :0
    Happy days,