Recently my husband, daughter, and I enjoyed our summer vacation. We spent several days at Hatteras Island (leaving just as the hurricane arrived) and a few more days in Williamsburg, Virginia. I loved walking the long stretches of beach on the island and we enjoyed the history and beauty of Williamsburg. Still – I found it difficult to relax and fully engage in the experiences.
My husband and daughter sometimes have different ideas of what is “fun” and since I enjoy most of the things that they do individually, I often found myself caught in the middle of their debates and fusses. I also have a lot on my plate now: launching a freelance writing career, taking on a new role as a vice president in the school PTA, working on the never-ending house projects, and writing chapters in my current work-in-progress. Since returning home to the house disasters, laundry, schedules, etc., I decided what I really need is to go to summer sleep-away camp.
Growing up on a farm, chores were a constant part of our lives. While summer meant no school, there were additional tasks like tending the garden and mowing the lawn. Our scheduled farm work hours also increased. My siblings and I still had time to play, read, ride bikes, and otherwise be kids, but there was always a list of chores to be done by the end of the day. Our only break from these responsibilities was the week we went to camp which I anticipated with great excitement.
The first day of camp was a bit nerve-wracking as my mom dropped me off and I found myself in a cabin of strangers. There were swim tests to take, meetings with the camp nurse, and the general settling in process of becoming comfortable in a new space. Still, the glittering lake beckoned and memories of past summers assured me that this one would be wonderful, too.
Soon the routines of camp transformed my cabin-mates and I from strangers to friends. There was the craft building and the nature hut, archery and rifle shooting, swimming and canoeing, and so much more. Breakfast always included hot chocolate and meals were generally tasty. We also sang. A lot. Silly songs, story songs, serious songs, grace before meals –camp had its own soundtrack and since I have a great memory for things set to music, I remember most of it.
In the evening, the camp came together for a group activity which might have been water relays at the lake, dancing or games in the rec area, or a full-scale battle of capture-the-flag. Regardless how the night started, it always ended the same way. We held hands, formed a line, and a staff member led us down a path to the clearing where our camp fire burned bright. Here stories were told or skits performed. Campfire ended after we stood, held hands again sang our last songs of the day – “Angels Watching Over Me” and “Day is Done.”
The last day of camp brought tears as we held our last meeting around the flag pole and our parents came to take us home. I chattered incessantly during the car ride, sharing all the fun and excitement of my week. I didn’t feel the weight of the world settle on my shoulders the way I do now as my vacation draws to a close.
So, I want to go to summer camp and experience that complete escape from my everyday life. Or maybe I need to learn how to let go of my responsibilities while on vacation and live fully in the moment.
No – I need to go to camp.
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