Oh, camp nostalgia. And now someone's written a book about it. It may be a cliche, but I don't care. Spending two weeks of each summer sleeping in a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina was one of the great blessings and privileges of my life. To this day, eleven years after I last spent a summer at camp, some of my greaest friends are camp friends. A ridiculous number of my friends on Facebook are camp people, including the girls who were my campers the summer I was their counselor. They were seven and eight then. This summer, several of these cute little girls are counselors themselves. Gulp.
It's hard to put into words why I loved camp so much, but it had something to do with it being a constant place that was (and is) full of love. No matter what happened in your life that year, no matter how you had changed, you went to camp, and people knew you and cared for you just the same as always. I know many girls who weren't fortunate to have stable home lives for whom camp was a saving grace that gave them a desparately-needed anchor. Camp is a place to have fun, but also to be still for awhile, to take a break from reality and just experience the wonder of God's world.
Plus, you know, there was the fun of traipsing around the mountains, building and cooking dinner over a campfire every Tuesday, learning to shoot stuff, kayaking on the lake, figuring out how to get information to the boys camp (which, in true Baptist fashion, sits on the opposite side of I-40 from the girls' camp), and playing our awesome version of capture-the-flag, which involves elaborate story lines and socks filled with flour. Being a counselor was the most exhausting job I've ever had, but it was worth it to keep those relationships going and to give back what camp had given to me to a group of girls who have turned into incredible young women.
I still miss camp, especially this time of year when I know that the girls are arriving on the mountain with their trunks, picking up new camp t-shirts, and getting ready for what will surely, again, be the best summer ever. On the rare occasions when I get to go back for an alumni weekend, my heart and stomach still jump with excitement when I make that turn up the hill towards camp. The other day, I found an old pair of gym shorts with my name written on the label in my mother's handwriting. Camp comes back in those ways, in a call from an old friend or in the smell of pine trees in an unexpected place. I am a lucky, lucky woman to have had camp as part of my life.