Friday, July 03, 2009

Writing Prompt, July 3: Summer Camp

Write about summer camp.

If you didn't go to camp, pretend you did and write about that. Or make up a story about somebody who did go.

I found a letter in my childhood keepsake box, "my treasures," addressed to my older sister Nancy and me, from our friend Dodie Pettit, about being at overnight camp:

Please excuse my writing because I am on my bed. This is rest hour. Carol -- I hope you can read script. . .Tonight the Iroquois are going to put on a tribe show. I don't know what it is because I'm a Mohegan and it's a secret.

Thursday our cabin (cabin 7) canoed to Trigger Island for a cookout. We went skinny dipping and tipped the canoes. . .

Dodie has drawn a tiny map in the letter. You might want to create a map of a camp or a camp trail and write about that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about summer camp. I met my best friend from sixth through eighth grade by chance in a small bistro in Hendersonville last week. It had been 44 years since I had seen her. When I saw her face and recognized her, I was transported to that magical summer when I was 12 and was allowed to ride my bike alone from my house to hers, three miles that included crossing an interstate bridge (and sneaking some rides on the unopened interstate highway on my bike). That summer we learned to dance, we listened to her records incessantly--I didn't yet have my own record player--we practiced cheerleading and we went to camp twice. We attended day camp that summer at Tanglewood not too far from home, but it included my first water skiing experience (and we had the urban legend--or was it a rural legend since we lived way outside the city?--about the nest of water mocassins that would strike and kill skiiers if they let go of the ropes while being towed. We also camped overnight at Hanging Rock, and I can still almost feel the indentation on my back from the root on which I slept. I did not have a sleeping bag. Our family did not own such items because we never camped. My mother did not like snakes and lizards and insects and hidden animals in the night. My dad had enough of camping in WWII. So instead of a sleeping bag I had an old wool blanket that smelled of moth balls. Naphthalene enough to make my brain woozy, I'm sure. And it was thin enough to allow me to feel every root and rock on the uneven ground. The camp stew, as I remember it, tasted even more delicious than my grandma's pot roast, and I knew I would camp outside again just to get such meals! My friend and I have lived several lifetimes since that summer, but it was nice to have those memories float back in and wipe out some of the painful days since then for both of us.

This morning I was again thinking of camp, thinking about the camp care packages I used to mail for my daughter. I'd rush to the post office to mail them the day before we drove her to Laurel Ridge so she would have them by Tuesday or Wednesday of the week's stay. Once she even received the package on Monday, the first full day of camp, and the peach-scented sachet that I had thought to include kept all the girls in her cabin from smelling the moldy mattresses, they said. I can't bring myself to remember all the rides up and down the mountain over the years she went to camp, but I do remember seeing a rainbow on one occasion before she died and on one return trip to that camp after her death. That rainbow pointed us to the spot on the eastern overlook where we hauled a little hemlock tree and planted it at the spot where she had loved to sit and dream.

Just a few minutes ago, I thought to check the Facebook page of one of her best friends. I heard yesterday that her baby was born last week. This friend, another friend and my daughter were born the same week in December 1980 and remained good friends all the rest of my daughter's life. That one of these girls, two of them now grown to women, has had a baby is one more missed milestone to acknowledge. Somehow this one seems steeper than the weddings of these two friends that I attended. On the Facebook page, I didn't see photos of the new baby, a little boy; I guess they haven't had much time to upload photos yet. But I did see, to my surprise, several photos from camp in the photo album, a couple that included my daughter, her hair haloed in the sunshine, and a couple of photos that were taken the summers after she died. It put a different slant on the befores and afters as I thought about camps.

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