Padding for my Judgment Day file.

Jun 22nd

Last summer, the older girls did full day camp. For many weeks. I initially felt bad about it because my (glorious) childhood summers were never structured.


But I had Bea who’s not a good “anywhere” sleeper. Expecting her to rest peacefully on a blanket in the shade at the pool or park while the older girls just “hung out” wasn’t going to happen unless I staked a pant leg to the lawn.


I guess I should be grateful she’s a good crib napper. (Loves her crib. Dives for her crib. When I give her one last cuddle before bedtime, she pushes me away.) If she wasn’t, there would be no blog. There would be no clean underwear, either.


It all worked out. They had an amazing summer. Lu applied her intensity to tennis camp and swim team and Edy thrived at an “all sports” camp, in which “all sports” included hula hoops and haphazardly constructed obstacle courses. They are doing the same camps this year and couldn’t be happier.


Did you go to camp? What are your camp memories?


As mentioned in a zillion previous posts, I spent every summer of my entire childhood at a swim club. I made my own fun. And it was fantastic. I can remember getting invited to a non pool friend’s house or birthday party and having to put on real, dry clothes and how bizarre that felt. The wet, hot pool was my happy habitat for several perfect months.


Interrupted only by two quick camps.


For the record, these camps were nothing like the camps some of my friends attended. Eight weeks. One parent visitation. Now that’s hardcore, use many bottles of bug spray and come out a changed person camp. That’s camp where you outgrow your sneakers and forget what riding in a car feels like.


The first camp I went to consistently every summer was Vacation Bible School. This isn’t the fun-filled “VBC” of today. There were no clever themes (Safari with Jesus!) or t-shirts, or convenient evening hours. The Vacation Bible School of my youth was a week-long, all morning, mandatory (my mom helped organize it) yawn-fest. It rotated each year between our Lutheran Church, a Presbyterian Church in the same town and a Catholic Church that scared me a little. It was always the same – we crafted God’s eyes with sticks and yarn, enjoyed(?) bland snacks and watered down lemonade from tiny Dixie cups, and ran around playing games that saved souls or possibly just wore us out.


I have one detailed memory from Vacation Bible School. I was probably ten or eleven. My very best summer friend agreed to leave the pool fortress and attend with me. (This was especially kind considering she was half Jewish.) It made the week more tolerable for sure and less scary since the Catholic Church was hosting and our “counselors” were nuns.


On the last day, we picnicked along the banks of the Wissahickon Creek. It was lovely and very boring. Then one of the (slightly terrifying) nuns announced that there would be a contest. My ears perked. I am nothing if not competitive. At the end of the morning, they would give a prize to the two children who displayed the best act of friendship. Game on.


For the rest of the picnic, my friend and I were grossly sweet to each other. We held hands. We exchanged compliments. We had it all wrapped up, or so we thought. The nuns handed out laminated cards with the “Footprints” poem on it. They didn’t have enough. An uninterested girl said to a poem-less boy, “Hey, you can have mine.” And she won! Ridiculous, right?


My second consistent camp experience was a week long stay at Bear Creek in the Poconos. Another church camp! That must be worth something in my Judgment Day file.


I went for four summers starting when I was nine. Every year was a totally different experience despite the same setting, the same activities, and the same catchy Christian songs that bring you to tears (I recall a particularly graphic ditty that went “On the bloody morning after, one tin soldier rides away..” What tin soldiers have to do with anything, I don’t know. But it was emotional around a campfire.)


One year I was very popular. One year I was not. One year I knew it would be bad from the second I surveyed my lackluster bunkmates, and one year was fun beyond belief. Midweek, we always trekked into the woods for a single night sleepover under the stars. If it was a good year, this was the highlight. If it was a sucky year, I’d cry silently and miss my mom.


And that’s all the structure I enjoyed. The rest of my summer, I was swimming laps in full lotus pose, making up silly dives, climbing the locker room stalls (ewww), telling ghost stories under the pine trees, playing baseball in “the field,” self-treating bee stings, annoying lifeguards, honing my shuffleboard push, perfecting my ping pong swing, slurping freezepops, cheating at UNO, telling fortunes, feeling free, loving life.


So what if Lu and Edy have structure to their summers. At least they don’t have nuns.

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