Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer Camp

Sleeping in strange rooms, evening dinners outside, and accommodating the interests of a gaggle of cousins over a wide age span has been a part of every summer I can remember. When one of my cousins and I were ten, my mom and aunt sent us to summer camp, a bible camp somewhere in southern Alabama. A few things stand out from that first camp experience.

Chief Eagle Feather was the week’s special guest. I don’t remember much beyond his name and that one evening I miraculously found a verse in the bible before three hundred other children. Long after, my dad teased me about Chief Pluck a Feather every time I invoked, “one time at summer camp, Chief….”

Camp included meals in a big hall, cabins with a cement shower stall, and a mix of activities-- crafts, archery, swimming, and trail rides (without helmets of course). Trail rides varied with the horse you rode-- I recollect my cousin riding a wild bucking horse on one. Luckily, on my first ride I found myself on an old white horse, Barney, that trotted along the trails with nary a cue from the rider.

One afternoon my cousin, a friend, and I skipped the afternoon swim session to walk around the lake. We were in the mood to ramble, talk, and pluck wildflowers. However, as we got to the far side of the lake, we realized our proximity to the stables and the nearness to the top of the hour when the trail rides started.

Simultaneously, we each shouted, “I get Barney!” and thus began the sprint for the stables in uncharted territory. As we ran pellmell down the hill, not one of us noticed the barbed wire fence. My cousin attempted to roll under it, our friend tried to jump over it, and I, I opted to go through the middle. At the first aid station, my newly pierced ear that gushed blood like Old Faithful was dressed.

I still have a faint scar on my ear from that summer adventure. Not one of us rode Barney that day, but we did return to summer camp for several years after that. This year my daughter is ten, and she is heading off to sleep away camp for the first time. I wonder what stories she will bring back with her.