Tag Archives: camp

Counselor Hunt

The ground angling down to the shore is precariously lined with dry, brown pine needles over soft soil. Roots arc up from the ground, twist and dive back, creating hazardous steps as I descend, sidestepping slightly for balance. Sunlight filters through ashes, birches, and firs, pale and green-scented on my face and bare arms.

The rock is warm, the lichen soft-green and dry on its surface. A watery breeze drifts over the shoreline here; there sunlight breaks and glitters on the pond. My body settles into the saddle-shaped depression at the rock’s center, my back against the dirt rising back up from the water’s edge.

The pond laps at the rock, a soft splot-splot-splot. A motor boat whirrs over the water past Blueberry Island like an industrial dragonfly and the wavelets amplify against my perch: splot-slap-splot-slap. Voices and laughter and raucous song drift over the water, tumble down the embankment from the forest trail above as campers in groups wander the acres, searching.

Water snake, peeper frog, pondweed, canoe, a kiss of shadow as a cloud slips past the sun. My thoughts empty, leaving space for fleeting observations.

Fill with deeper thoughts. Summer’s inevitable close, the crisp breath of fall in a new place, a shift in my life’s center of gravity. A dull ache between my shoulders muscles ahead of thoughts; I sit up and stretch, awareness and blood pushing back into flesh.

The heat from pond-mirrored sun dusts freckles on my skin, infuses my hair with the smell of summer, and I settle back into the hard saddle. The quiet cove down the shore is thickly skimmed in waterlilies, recently opened, nodding gently on the nearly still surface.

Footsteps above. I still myself, breathe quietly, drawing the air in silently. Giggles. I am found.

For this week’s memoir prompt, we’re going to let narrative take a backseat. Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breathe the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.

A Little Longer Here With You

Her name was Joanna, but I didn’t learn that until the end of the second summer. To me, to the hundred other girls a week at camp, she was “Sam.” She was one of two counselors-in-training (CITs) those summers and she was amazing. Energetic and silly, mischievous and kind. And she sang. Always she sang.

When she reappeared at camp a few summers later as a full staff member, she had a new camp-name, TBear, but it didn’t change her essential coolness. I would have followed her anywhere, and probably did follow her everywhere I could.

Every night, we’d build a fire in the fire circle by the pond and she would sing.

Twenty years later, I lie in bed with my three year old son asking him what song he would like. He has exhausted my usual repertoire of lullabyes.

“Mama? I want a new song.”

I stare blankly into the milky darkness of his bedroom for a moment before the song comes into my head–full blown and ready to go. Not only did Joanna teach it to me, I in turn taught it to hundreds of girls in turn as a CIT and counselor.


I want to linger
a little longer–
a little longer here with you.

It’s such a perfect night;
it doesn’t seem quite right,
that it should be my last with you.

And come September,
I will remember
my camping days and friendships true.

And as the years go by,
I’ll think of you and sigh.
This is goodnight and not goodbye.

I want to linger
a little longer–
a little longer here with you.

“I like The Linger,” he says to me when I finish it. “How do you know that song?”

“I learned it at summer camp.”

“I will go to summer camp.”

“I hope so, baby. I do.”

A few moments later, I closed the door and I realized several of the lullabyes I sing, I know from Joanna. They’re so much a part of me, I’d forgotten where they came from.

Dig deep to find what, from your childhood, you still know from heart.

All Camp Slumber Party: Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop

This week’s prompt: a memorable camp experience.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was the summer in question, but I think I was in middle school.

The week or two a year that I spent at camp was a magical time for me. I loved everything from the counselors, friends, and campfires to the canoe paddling and tie-dying. Loved. It.

In the middle of the week, in the early evening, just as we were all getting ready for bed, our counselors gathered up the twenty-five of us from our platform tents, and hustled us to the cabin which served as the central meeting place for our campsite. We were counted, recounted, and roll-called before being lined up, sent to retrieve our sleeping bags, and hustled off to the dining hall.

We speculated as to the cause. Storms? Fabulous all-camp surprise? Upon arrival we were told it was an all-camp slumber party. The other three campsites turned up, each with about five staff and twenty-five girls. They settled us on cot mattresses in the dining hall, and attempted to quiet us all down.

There was some singing, and then lights out. It took a long time for one hundred girls to fall asleep under such unusual circumstances.

We continued to speculate in whispers late into the night. There was a crackling intensity running through the room. The adults seemed keyed up, surfing a current of unease that they were trying desperately to hide with false cheer.

In later years, I was a counselor, and I remember waiting out tornado warnings and other emergencies in the same dining room, trying valiantly to hide the strain. I don’t know why I didn’t remember this night, remember that children feel emotional currents so strongly.

The next morning, we packed out, returned to our campsite and started the day, returning to the dining hall a scant hour later for a raucous breakfast, as per usual. The rest of the week passed without incident.

Except that the camp director, whose name I’ve long forgotten, made a point of saying hello to me every morning. Just me. By name. Every morning. Until I left with my Mom on Saturday.

On the long ride home, my Mom told me a scary story.

She and my Dad were home, my brother was in bed. The phone rang. She answered it, and a man told her that he had me. That he had taken me from camp. She called the police. She called the camp. The camp director radioed my counselors, who ascertained that I was where I belonged, untouched. Safe.

Camp went into quiet lock down. An all-camp slumber party.

And the camp director, whose name I’ve long forgotten, made a point of saying hello to me every morning. Just me. By name. Every morning. Until I left with my Mom on Saturday.

Mama's Losin' It