Last week, we spent one of our days up north at Camp Kon-O-Kwee. Though my family moved around a lot growing up, Camp was the one constant. I started going to Camp Kon-O-Kwee when I was six years old in the YMCA’s Indian Princess program. Then at seven, I started summer camp. Then in high school, I became a Counselor-In-Training. Two years later, I became a Counselor. Then, and finally, I became a Village Director.
Part of me cannot believe that time in my life is over, that the many summers I spent at camp are over and done. Camp creeps upon me at odd times: when a certain smell is in the air, a certain song is playing on the radio, a certain type of evening breeze, the feel of concrete or grass, the smell of a fire or marshmallows, stars in the sky. And then I am right back there, back to the place that taught me so much about life, people, and possibility. Camp, and the people there (namely Uncle Rob, Aunt Judy, Uncle Harry, and so many of the staff I worked alongside for so many summers), taught me how to recognize and be confident in my ability to work hard. My parents instilled a solid work ethic in me, but it was at camp – sweeping outside the dining hall Saturday mornings, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before lunch, helping out in the dish room, tarring cracks in the tennis court – where I realized I was, I am, good at working hard. Really good at it. In fact, it is the thing I like best about myself.
And though my days at Camp summer after summer and even on the weekends are over (and though this makes me unbelievable sad), it was with unparalleled delight that I was able to return, if only for a day, to camp with my kids. We stayed in a beautiful guest cabin, tackled the Trail of Courage four times, walked across camp, took the kids on a paddle boat in the pond, took a morning hike, visited our old lodges, made a camp fire, roasted a bag full of marshmallows, and sat staring into the camp fire until nothing else seemed to matter very much at all except the simple fact of our family together and the gooey golden brown goodness of a perfectly roasted mallow.
As we sat there, Sidney rolling around on a blanket in the grass, Riley armed with a marshmallow stick, and Adrian asleep inside, I told Shawn the day had been perfect. A certain kind of perfect. Camp perfect. He agreed.