Anyone out there remember church camp?!!! You know…the ones where you actually have to drive to it as opposed to camping in the church yard!!? The ones where you stayed in a cabin. Without plumbing, if you get my drift. The ones where you were herded into a dining hall/porch..ok, a roof held up by poles which meant the fly and mosquito situation was in crisis mode daily and THAT was normal.
All of my friends went to camp. I heard tales from my best friends. Two got to go to G.A. Camp (Girls Auxiliary in the Southern Baptist Convention) and sent me glorious recollections of what happened at camp every single stinkin’ day. I was envious. Maybe even almost covetous. Another friend went to the Church of Christ camp every year and eventually was awarded the monumental prize of being a camp counselor. Wow. That was awesome and I didn’t even know the word awesome then.
I heard about their horrible food and how the cook always gave them an extra cookie (probably because one was a preacher’s kid. Danged PKs got special treatment everywhere they went.). I heard about their really cool counselor who showed them how to pierce their ears and how the girls went swimming and walked to the pool all covered up. Then boys went swimming. Don’t remember if they had to cover up. Probably not. Remember this was the ’60s.
I also heard about church camp romances which consisted of who held whose hand and who wrote who a note. It was all the rage to come home from camp with a new boyfriend and then get letters from him. Until school started. I always wondered if this aspect of camping was as important to the guys as it seemed to be to us gals. Of course, the gals always outnumbered the guys, especially when we got older. By the time the high school years came along, the guys were mainly busy working for their dads or throwing newspapers or helping their uncle at the ranch. Sigh. We missed them greatly.
When the time rolled around for our boys’ opportunity to go to church camp…which was 300 miles away in Colorado…I was ecstatic! Now THIS was camping for real. They were going to the same camp Big Boss had attended as a kid with all of his friends. I had sat and listened to him and his buddies talk about church camp for years. This was most definitely THE coolest place on earth, Colorado not withstanding.
The older two boys went without much ado. They were like that. They loved social settings and they loved Colorado so, all was well.
Along came the baby brother. He wasn’t so sure about this whole camp thing at age 11. We assured him that he would have the time of his life. Eventually, he was looking forward to the week.
Phone calls to the house became a daily routine during his confinement to Church Camp.
Day 1: “Mom we’re here. Did you feed my rabbits?”
Day 2: “Camp is OK but their food stinks.”
Day3: “It’s raining. Again.”
Day 4: “It’s still raining. Did you feed my rabbits?”
Day 5: His counselor calls while I’m just getting wound up with a group of cheerleaders and their moms. We’re planning cheerleader camp. Go figure. “Uh, Mrs. Big Boss, we have a problem. Your kid wants to come home. He’s really, really, really homesick. But I think we can handle this. Don’t worry. Maybe it will stop raining.”
I hang up. I plot in my mind, “How fast can I get these people out of my house so I can get to Colorado?!!!”. But, Momsense prevails and I ditch that plan. But not the thoughts. “Will the child survive this trauma???”
Day 6: A letter arrives…
Transcribed version (just in case you can’t make out some of the words! Remember he’s 11 years old and has inherited his penmanship…and spelling from the paternal side of the family):
Dear Mom and Dad,
I don’t like it much at all.
I been crying some. We are going to walk to a mountain.
I am home sick.
I don’t want to come back it isn’t worth 100 dollars.
I hope my rabbits are OK.
I love you guys. Don’t write back unless you want to.
It wasn’t signed by anyone in particular, but I was pretty sure it was from my baby boy and he wasn’t having a good experience. At all.
The day after we got the letter, it was time to pack up and head to Colorado, for that was the appointed day to pick the child up.
Not a day too soon. I can still remember BB and I turning the corner to the entrance of the camp. There sat, on top of a huge boulder right by the entrance gate, our baby boy. With his suitcases beside him. Why I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap a pic I’ll never know. I can still see him sitting there though.
Big Boss and I had to stifle our giggles at the little figure on top of that rock. It was a sad sight but also just a tad funny. It was a welcome sight to see the baby of the family again. We had missed him too. But I’m thinking maybe not quite as much as he had missed us! Poor little guy. He couldn’t get us out of there fast enough. 🙂