You'll never find a kid's camp without a long and winding road leading to it's magical spot. It needs the journey of anticipation to reach it with the level of excitement and a dash of anxiety necessary to kick off the emotions and adrenaline of meeting new and reuniting with the cherished.
Yesterday, I was the driver of the journey to camp for two very excited 13 year old girls, who had been looking forward to the arrival of the BIG DAY since I picked them up last summer at the end of their successful foray. I knew exactly how they were feeling. I had been in the backseat for the trip many times. Though it was a different winding road and a different camp, the thoughts and feelings, as well as many of the sensory cues were exactly the same.
Hazy blues in a slumbering summer sky...........just how it should be when we turned off onto the entrance driveway, the tires crunching the dusty gravel. Sounds of music, and kids voices greeted us waving through the pine scented air. It's far from loud.....just enough volume to filter through the forest. All so familiar, like a favourite camp shirt fresh out of the dryer.
All of the questions which have fed the pulse of the excitement.....Which cabin will I live in? Who will be my counsellors? Who will be in my cabin? Will there be new things to see and do? I wonder if we'll go on a canoe trip?..........ALL of these questions pondered over and over for months leading up to being greeted by the camp staff receive their answers as we lugged overstuffed bags to the two top bunks nestled in the cabin closest to the glistening waterfront.
As the girls were acclimatizing themselves by setting up their beds, and reuniting with two other smiling exuberant friends, I was whooshed by the deja vu real life memories of my own arrival as a 13 year old girl to my camp. Different locale, but the same in all the important aspects. Echos from the past were also filtering through the pine. My own summer reunions and wonderment, all around me offering significance and a sense of belonging. I could feel my camp shirt touching my skin again.
I tucked them in as best as I could, chatted with the counsellor all the while dropping positive vibes about how much fun she will have with these 4 keen campers in her care, gave all of the girls hugs and encouragement (like they needed it) to ENJOY! to SAVOUR! to TRY something NEW! Then, I left them
I drove home the long way, taking an even more undulating road which hugged the river to revisit my own 13 year old friends and to remember the times we shared. It's been so long since then. That specific summer isn't totally separate from my 12 years at camp memory bank. I needed a longer drive just to process the many jump up memories. They are like a chain of daisies, beautiful as a garland, linked individually......you step back and see a bouquet. You look closer and see the strength and beauty of one flower.
What I was left with at the end of my drive was the new learning which comes from taking the time to reflect about the people who have been a part of my life journey. It's not fully new.......reflections help you add onto previous learning....it helps you enhance or alter what you know. New perspectives from long ago experiences can also reinforce one's faith in our destinies......our long and winding roads.
Camp for me was a sturdy life affirming series of signposts which pointed out a path I ended up on. It taught me how to paddle my own unique canoe and it gave me the grounding for my career as a counsellor and a teacher. It opened my eyes to believing that the important gifts in our lives come from the connections we make with people. For that, I will always be grateful.
which canoe do you choose to paddle?