Yes, Jane, yer big sis Pooh and I went to Campfire Girl camp! It was called Camp Wikweia and we went when you were a baby. And yes, I totally agree that the cabin is the best camp and who would ever want to go away to camp if they had the cabin?
I was a Campfire Girl and The Commander was the leader of our troop or tribe or whatever it was called. I think I was pretty bratty a lot of the time but that would be a whole ‘nother story. The camp was one week long and served troop/tribes all over Da Yoop and I think G2 conspired to send both Pooh and me out there, maybe because you were a baby and also because I’m not sure I was all that happy about going. “She needs to be socialized, don’tcha know.”
It wasn’t really all that bad a camp. We had campfires and sleepouts and we could buy candy and make braided lanyards out of gimp and do other crafts. There was archery, which I am pretty sure I sucked at. We sang plenty of silly songs like the ones that Pooh seems to be dredging up with wild abandon. (And no, we didn’t sing about plastic Jesus dashboard statues.) The swimming was okay except that it was a mucky lake and they roped off sections for kids of different levels. At that age, I had delusions of grandeur of swinging up through the ranks of the swimming levels to Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer and beyond. Alas, in my life, I have become a serviceable swimmer but nothing spectacular. And that’s okay. But here I was, swimming in this mucky lake and I missed the cold, clear water and the sand bottom and the sandbar system that kept us from straying too far out at the Moominbeach.
I only remember one truly horrible incident and I don’t think that happened the year that Pooh went. And yes, I did go a couple other years. One of those years, they had a control freak nincompoop running the camp. She had a one bite rule. I could eat one bite of just about anything, or at least anything they had at that camp. I could not for the life of me choke down one bite of cottage cheese. Why? Because, when I was about five and had scarlet fever or whatever it was that gave me fevers high enough that I can still remember the hallucinations, The Engineer, who was around two, stuck his blue ‘gar (aka cigar) into my bowl of cottage cheese. Nothing like a chewed up blue crayon in your cottage cheese to turn your stomach. I hadn’t recovered from that incident by then. Actually, I still haven’t. (It’s okay ol’ boy, I forgive you for that.) Unfortunately, this illustrious person had graced my camp cabin’s table with her presence that night. What? You won’t eat cottage cheese? Why not? I couldn’t explain what the problem was and she wouldn’t let me (or anyone else at the table) leave until I had eaten cottage cheese. Way to guilt-trip a kid. Somehow, I finally managed to choke just, well, one small bite down. She made a big fuss about her little victory at the table and then she just couldn’t leave it alone. Every time she saw me after that for the whole rest of the week, she would call me her “Cottage Cheese Girl”. (If you know me at all, you know I was thinking, “where did I put my flame-thrower?”)
Still, it was a pretty good camp and a lot of people loved it there. My cousin “Susie Swim” (who *did* swing up through the ranks of Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer and beyond, with aplomb) worked the waterfront there for years. My mom’s friend/my friend Helen’s mom Ginny was the camp nurse for a long time. That horrible director was only there one year. Many of my school friends loved going to camp there. They made life-long friends there and remember it with great fondness. Me? Not so much. I am not a group activity type person from the get-go and even then, I wanted to be back at the Moominbeach running around with my cousins like wild Indians. I never cried publicly about it or told a counselor or anyone and I wasn’t UNfriendly. I sucked it up. But I can still remember standing outside the dining hall while everyone else was singing “Here we stand like birds in the wilderness, waiting for our food”, watching the water sparkle in the sun and thinking about my own beach with tears in my eyes.
I guess it couldda been worse. I couldda been one o’ those others, you know, those others who are not girls. I couldda smuggled a smoke bomb or two or three into boy scout camp and then been ordered into slave labor, cutting grass with a scythe. Roight.