Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five: Summer Camp

Mother Laura at Revgals has a Friday Five on Summer camp. She says
We're settling into our new new apartment, and after a lifetime at Montessori Katie is having a fantastic summer at YMCA day camp. Meanwhile, Nicholas is packing up for a week at Camp Julian, shared by the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego. His lists of supplies and rules--except for the ropes course available to the teenagers and the ban on IPODs and cell phones--bring back memories of my own happy times weeks at Y camp Ta Ta Pochon, funded by selling countless cases of butter toffee peanuts. So, in celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp.

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?

If it wasn’t for Girl Scout I don’t think I would have survived childhood. From the time I went to Brownie camp at the age of seven, I could hardly wait to get back. It was hard for my folks to pay for camp. But I went to camp from the age of 7 to the age of 17 and then I was a counselor for a couple of years during college. Our family was not the most functional group in the world and that 2 weeks each summer was the respite sanity I needed to get through the rest of the year. I remember wanting to go to the Counselor-in-Training course for 6 weeks before my junior year in high school. The house needed painting. So in return for tuition to go to camp, I painted the house. Thanks be to God our house had siding and I only had to do the trim, but in TX heat it was still a daunting task.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
I had been trained in primitive camping since childhood so camping was in my blood. Camping vacations were all that we could afford. I no longer go camping except in a camper. I don’t sleep on the ground anymore. The body just can’t take it, but I still like to camp. After Katrina I spent 2 months in a borrowed pop-up working along the MS coast at our denomination’s relief workers’ camp. I like being able to wake up in the early morning and walk to a lake or a stream, or the smell of coffee brewing on a camp stove or open fire.

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?

I counseled at Girl Scout camps for a number of years and then counseled at a private girls’ camp for really wealthy children. That was very difficult for me. The class gap was difficult, but I found that children with money had just the same kind of problems that my lower middle class friends had. It was the beginning of my awareness that folks were pretty much the same. I never went to Church Camp because we weren’t churched during my childhood.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
I have a friend, the widow of a fellow clergyman, who loves to fly fish as much as I do. She was getting older and still liked to go to MT –Yellowstone to fish during the summer. One summer she offered to fly me into Bozeman if I could help her drive her RV home. I had neither seen Yellowstone Park nor had I ever fished MT, the holy grail of fly fishers. It was awesome. We even fished in Idaho where I caught a 4lb trout!

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
When I was a young child, I learned camp songs both at camp and from my parents. Dad was a big Boy Scouter. In those days we didn’t have a radio in the car, so to entertain ourselves we sang camp songs on long trips. I learned to sing a fairly decent harmony part by the time I was in 4th grade. I am sure that it was camp and camp songs helped me develop into a professional musician in later life. I remember a comment from Garrison Keillor about Lutheran children learning to sing while being held by parents singing four-part harmony. I don’t know if that was what happened to me, I do know that singing those camp songs are some of my earliest and happiest memories. I don’t know how to link and I don’t know where I would find recordings of Skideradinkyidinkydink, or Baby Boats, or Ash Grove. But I do remember those and Purple Owlet, even Holy, Holy, Holy at camp church services.


Dr. Laura Marie Grimes said...

Beautiful reflections on music, thank you. I remember singing Ash Grove as a duet with a high school friend whose stepmom was a voice teacher and helped us--it is still a special memory esp. as the stepmom passed on too young.

Diane M. Roth said...

your reflections at the end brought be back to car trips! and singing in the car on the way somewhere: we sang songs from musicals, and also Row Row Row Your Boat, and Frere Jacques, etc.

Mary Beth said...

Great stories! Love it.

Processing Counselor said...

What wonderful memories. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall...