Camping Out By the River Called Time

As the heat rises and summer torpor overtakes the land, a small fleet of Sunfish, Optis, and Lasers splashes its way into Galveston Bay. Sailing camps are in session, and even the smallest skippers are eager to begin tacking their way toward competence.

From my vantage point on the dock, I watch and smile. Older campers look and act like any other group of teens. Studies in calculated cool, their swagger might seem a little too self-aware, but there’s no mistaking the meaning of the jostling and sideways glances that mark their passage through the week. They’re as interested in the social seas surrounding them as they are in the waters of the Bay, and they’re learning to navigate both.

The youngest sailors present quite a different picture. Some are fresh from first grade. Most stand barely taller than their oars. When their sailing dinghies are rigged, tied bow to stern with awkward, tentative knots, the long, bouncy string of boats being towed into the Bay looks for all the world like an old-fashioned pull toy.

While the teen-aged sailors wave and shout to one another, the youngsters often seem timid and uncertain: made hesitant by the vastness of the water and their own inexperience.  Throwing off the line that attaches them to the string of bobbing boats, and taking command of their own ship for the first time, is no small thing.

But by week’s end, even the youngest are smiling. Their watery world has been trimmed down to size, and they see it for what it is: a new environment that can be understood and challenged. They’ve learned to turn turtle with panache, and to right their own boats. They’re increasingly confident, and they’re having fun.

My own youthful camping was done in the woods, not on the water:  but camping is camping. When my friends and I trekked off each summer for our week at camp, competence and fun were our goals as well. We lived in cabins, camped in the woods, cooked over fires, and quaked with fear in the midst of the dark, moonless grove as our counselors told us the grisly tale of “The Creature Who Lived in the Woods and Preferred Small Children for Supper.”

Looking at a photo of our Bluebird troop, time collapses. I remember shy Colleen, who discovered she was pretty; Judy, who overcame her fear of swimming; Janet, who found she enjoyed hiking, and began losing her chubbiness. Another Judy, afflicted with a 1950s version of the helicopter parent, came home and said to her ever-worried mother, “I’m never sick at camp and I’m not going to be sick at home.” And she wasn’t. To our great delight, she soon was biking, swimming, and eating cake and ice cream with the rest of us.

Most of my craft projects are gone now –the popsicle stick cabin with the tissue paper smoke; the punched-tin lantern; the woven potholders; the leather pouch. But the memories remain, refreshed from time to time by the simple correspondence between a camper and her parents:

Dear Linda ~ We got home OK. Mother and I are going out to Stone’s at Marshalltown one nite this week. Sandy was over today. Mother told her you were at camp. Are you having a good time? We hope you are. Write and let us know what fun you are having. Love, Daddy
Dear Mother and Daddy ~ Valerie got thrown out of our cabin for bad words. I don’t know where she’s gone. I don’t care. The best thing about camp is going to the Trading Post and buying candy.

Postcards were our way of sharing the camping experience: postcards, and the stories we told after returning home. In those days, the parents we knew didn’t go camping with their children. In a world of closely-knit families who vacationed together, worked together, and gathered around the dinner table every evening, camp was an opportunity for children to move beyond the family circle and experience life on their own.

Today, in our more fragmented world, camping provides an opportunity for parents and children to share time together in ways not always possible during the course of daily life.

One of the best camping stories I’ve heard came from an acquaintance after a first overnight stay with his son at a nearby Boy Scout Camp.

During their time at camp, they fished, and floated on rafts. They played games, and during craft time the boy learned to whittle with his father’s pocketknife. They built an after-dinner campfire, toasted marshmallows, and told wonderful, scary stories.

As the stories became just a touch too realistic, the boy crawled into his father’s lap and said, “Daddy, I’m scared!” Assured that he was safe, he gave a sigh, leaned back and gazed up at the stars.

Later that night, as he was being tucked him into his sleeping bag, he said, “This is my best camping trip ever!” His dad couldn’t help laughing. “But it’s your only camping trip ever!” Looking at him, the boy said, “I guess that’s right. But it’s so much fun!”

By now, that boy is a teenager. No doubt he’s experienced other camping trips, with or without his father. As time goes on, there will be more adventure, more travel, more opportunities to learn new skills: even if his formal camping days come to an end.

Like the boy, each of us has multiple opportunities to “camp out” in our lives: pitching our tents in the midst of new places, learning survival skills, clearing out the underbrush of fear, and marking our trails for the sake of those to follow.

But in a larger sense, we have only one trip, one chance to camp out along the river called Time. When the day has ended and the fire burns low, what will we remember?

Will we have taken some time for play? Will we have admitted our fears? Will we have known the joy of learning? Will we have worked to provide for our own needs, and the needs of others? Will we have stopped to enjoy the true luxuries of life, the variety of nature, and the warmth of companionship? Will we sleep at last in peace: secure in the universe and certain of its shelter?

Perhaps we will. If we are able to accept, without bitterness or regret, the hard reality that there is one and only one opportunity to watch Time’s river flowing away, at trip’s end we may sigh with our own sense of satisfaction and say, “I’m sorry it’s over. But it was so much fun.”


Comments are welcome, always
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106 thoughts on “Camping Out By the River Called Time

  1. Lucky me! I’m in the port city of Manta, and your post opened with zero problems! I can visualiize you smiling and observing the participants at the sailing camp, and they could probably learn a lot from you if given a chance to say, ‘Hi!” I loved the old photo and wondered which one is dear Linda.

    You have gone through life spreading happiness and sunshine, and we’re blessed to know you thanks to WordPress.

    1. Lucky you. Museum time for sketching and a solid internet connection must feel like heaven, especially when combined with increasingly good health. One sketch, one step at a time — I’m anxious to see what you’ve been up to.

      I did have to smile at your comment about the pleasures of having Museo Bahia de Caraquez all to yourself after hours. I recently had the same experience at Presidio La Bahia here in Texas — the fort where Fannin and his men were massacred. Being able to wander the place as I pleased was remarkable. I’ll turn my time there into words, just as you’ll be turning your time at the museum into art.

      I’m in the back row, second from left. I’m a little amused that I remember every girl in the photo except the one next to me, at the far left. She looks pretty serious. And can you spot the one with the over-protective mother?

      Good memories, for sure.

      1. I just finished looking at the photo again, and yes, I thought that must be you.. Glad to have it confirmed, oh precious one!

        Yes, time at the museum was wonderful and went by way too fast. So many artifacts and so little time.. but yes, great stories and new friends. I now have a new pen pal – Sofia, about 9 years old – thanks to my time spent in Bahia.

        Am heading back for another peek at the photo, then it’s on to breakfast, running errands, and then a day of travel getting home.

        Next week I will be offline and not sure for how long. Am going to the cloud forest to help my friends (not physical work on the finca but more emotional support).. She was doing a short substitute teaching job in the states (she’s a veterinarian) and went to the hospital (not feeling well) and was diagnosed with lymphoma… he’s there at the property and trying to find ground beneath his feet… she’ll be there for months for treatments.. he must be going through all ranges of emotions…

      2. Funny. In your question about the girl with the over-protective mother I thought, “How does she think we can spot her?” Going back to picture, I agree it is quite easy!

    1. That’s right. It’s easy enough to spot the campers in the woods, with their sleeping bags and tent, but a few people with three-story, multi-million dollar homes might be surprised to know they’re camping out, too.

      I suppose the biggest difference between the sailing camp kids and the rest of us is that they know they only have a week. We don’t know how long our “camp” is going to last, but we act like it’s forever.

  2. This is so well-written – painting lively scenes, introducing your darling fellow campers, and drawing such coloful analogies to what this lefelong camping trip is all about. I’m so glad I found you.

    The questions you ask are the kind I imagine God and me discussing when my camping days are over. I will have tripped and skinned a knee or two; lost my way more times than I care to admit; and a few times let my fellow campers down when I should have pulled more weight. But God will already know that about me. We will both agree all in all it was a mighty fine time.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece, Sammy. There are certain experiences that connect generations, and summer camp certainly is one. Even though not everyone went to camp when I was growing up, there were other options: the library reading clubs, day camps, swimming camp at the city pool. Learning, skills development, and fun went together.

      And of course the skinned knees, the times of getting lost, and the occasional case of irresponsibility are important parts of the package. Generally speaking, that’s where the best stories lie!

      1. One thing you pointed out about kids going to camp to ‘get away’ from families amd meet new people in the ’50’s vs today where lots of families take their RV on weekends to have time together after going their own ways during the week described one of my stepson’s and his family perfectly.

        My other stepson’s family is very closeknit during week & weekends. Their kids go to daycamps in summer.

        Interesting contrast you helped me see!

        I also neglected to mention your beautiful depiction of the boys, boats and their mannerisms in you opening narrative. So rich in your depictions.

        1. The great thing is, both of your stepsons have found a way that works for their familly. That’s what counts.

          And I should make clear that, among the young sailors, there are as many girls as boys. Some of the instructors are girls, too. In fact, the current Commodore of the Yacht Club that sponsors many of our area camps is an accomplished sailor — and a woman. It’s nice to see.

  3. This post soothed and relaxed me, thank you. The beginning reminded me of my own kids, ages 8 and 11, as they grow and learn every year, testing limits. I do the same alongside them, and it’s a great, fun adventure! You remind me to look and listen, and enjoy the journey at every step.

    1. I grew up with the traditional door frame “growth chart.” Every year (or maybe twice a year — I can’t remember) we marked my height there.

      But there was another measure taken on each birthday after I started school that was wonderful fun. I’d share a list called “Things I Learned Last Year,” and then we’d talk about the things I wanted to learn in the coming year. I wish I still had those lists, but they’re long gone. I do remember being proud of learning to ride a bicycle, and I remember wanting to learn how to embroider — Grandma took care of that one.

      In any event — yes. Growing and learning are the point, for all of us. If we can add enjoyment to the mix, all the better.

  4. How amazing to dream what you pictured us today… Such a beautiful writing… carried me too in memories… Thank you dear Linda, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    1. Dreams and memories are wonderful, aren’t they? They add richness to life, and help us remember what’s important. Sometimes, writing about memories is like looking at old photographs — both activities give new life to things we might otherwise forget.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece, Nia, and I hope your weekend is lovely, too. ~ Linda

  5. I was just thinking about camp a couple of days ago. I went to a day camp on the James River. It was so much fun. I loved every minute of it: the crafts, swimming, the songs. Good times. My grands are going to day camp now. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. What I want to know is — did you go fishing at camp? I just looked up the James River on YouTube, and such a collection of catfishing videos I’ve never seen You people grow them big over there. One guy caught 743 pounds of blue cat in four hours, with a 62 pounder being the biggest. Good grief.

      One of the few amusing results of our recent floods was that people were catching catfish down by the Galveston jetties. There was so much fresh water flowing, it pushed the fish all the way through the Bay to the Gulf.

      Remember my piece about the girls’ camp in the Hill Country, where they make them give up their iGadgets and such for the entire summer? I hope they’re still doing that. I believe I’ll check it out.

  6. School camps and holiday camps were not part of my childhood but were known to me through books and the film The Parent Trap. Instead of camps, I got to go to boarding school, which perhaps could be considered a very extended camp out! I hope I am making the most of my camping days by the river of Time; sometimes, I am not sure.

    1. Not only have I not seen “The Parent Trap,” I didn’t even know the story line. Now, I’m all informed. How I missed it, I haven’t a clue, since I was in high school when it first was released, but those were busy years.

      In any event, I did notice this line from the Wiki entry for the 1960s version: “They admitted to each other…they [had] no more time to lose.” Quite apart from the camping context, that’s pretty much the point I was trying to make,so it’s a perfect reference.

      We always thought boarding school would be sheer perfection, but of course our view was romanticized. We knew only one boy who’d gone off to military school, so reports on the experience were scant. Then, we got to Dickens in English lit, and “Nicholas Nickelby” took care of any remaining romanticism. On the other hand, boarding school as an extended camp-out sounds pretty inviting.

      As for making the most of our days, that surely differs for each of us. I have one friend who’s convinced she’s wasting her life if she isn’t constantly on the go, checking items off a seemingly infinite to-do list. Another friend swears any day without an hour or two of cloud-watching has been wasted. Perhaps the answer is to put cloud-watching on the to-do list!

      1. That’s an excellent answer, although lists and I generally don’t agree with each other. They frighten me with their bossiness.
        The Parent Trap was a film I saw many times over, and I think I would enjoy seeing it again, and not consider it a waste of time. ;) I enjoyed boarding school but my father didn’t. He said his days in the army were a lot easier than boarding school. My sister and my brother were not that keen on boarding school either.

  7. I guess I was lucky growing up. When I made it to Boy Scouts, the group I was in went camping once a month. Those weekend camps in all kinds of weather taught me more than most weeks of schooling. But summer camp was where we learned to live in the woods.

    On the weekend camps we slept on the ground in small tents we set up attached to trees. Come summer, we set up tents like small houses held up with wooden poles. We slept on cots. We had wooden chests to hold our things at the end of our for. We even used burlap bags to floor the space between two cots.

    As for the feel of those June weeks in the piney woods of SE Texas, now that you’ve brought back the memories… it was pretty much the same as my mornings on the back porch. Warm, muggy, still days spent in small cleanings among tall trees… ever shadowed, rays of light through dust motes… just the promise of a breeze on the pine needles far above our heads… The ever present smell of wood smoke and sweaty boys. Cicadas and bird song supplying the background track to hundreds of boys calling through the woods.

    Linda, thanks for taking me back…

    1. I’m curious — did you go to Camp Strake? I was in an antique shop on the Strand some years ago when an older man found a mug from Camp Strake on the shelf. I thought he would burst into tears as he regaled everyone in sight with his memories. Of course he bought it.

      The first summer I was in Houston, I couldn’t get over the sound of the cicadas. It was a good year for them, and every time it seemed they couldn’t get any louder, they did. It still was a languid southern town at that point, with neighborhood ice houses and lockers where you could have a side of beef hung. Now, there’s too much concrete and too much traffic for my taste: the city’s changed, but so have I.

      Speaking of background tracks, here’s my new favorite summer song from Billy Bragg — I suspect you know it, but another listen never hurts.

      1. As a matter of fact. those memories were of Camp Strake. And with your mention of the name I had to look, and it’s no longer there. Probably the land value finally made them sell. I45 just south of Conroe… Just looked it up and the sale happened in 2013 and they are in the process of rebuilding on a site between Coldspring and New Waverley (a place I called home for almost a year in the early 70’s).

        To be honest, I don’t think I ever heard that particular song before… But it’s now in my Singers and Songwriters playlist on YouTube. Thanks Linda.
        And thanks for reminding me about Camp Strake… The Chronicle has some old 1950’s photo’s of the camp in an article about the sale…http://blog.chron.com/primeproperty/2015/01/camp-strake-getting-a-new-name-identity/#14048101=0

        1. Those photos attached to the article are great. I’m glad to hear they’re rebuilding.

          Speaking of land values and camps, I suddenly realized I’d not mentioned the Girl Scout camp, Casa Mare, out on Todville Road. I go past it whenever I head out to Maas Nursery, but it’s so far away from the road I never see any activity. It seems they’re still active, and hosting their own version of resident and day camps. I’m really glad.

          I’m glad you like the song, too. The history is that Woody Guthrie’s family asked Billy Bragg to put some unpublished and hence unrecorded lyrics to music. The result was the album “Mermaid Avenue.” It’s all good music.

          1. And about Girl Scout Camps, there was one that bumped up to Camp Strake along the river… We would hike down there after lights out… Never saw a girl scout though. I am sure they sold out too by now.

  8. I had one sailing lesson on a nearly wind-less day in central Illinois. I should try it again. It was fun when there was a gentle breeze. I don’t how I would do in challenging conditions. Probably drown.

    Camping has never been a big thing for me. No one took me out with tent and campfire to learn it. I had to teach myself when I grew up. I prefer cabin camping instead.

    As time moves along, I have no doubts that I am camping along the river of life. I enjoy getting out at all hours to see what nature offers. The river shows many familiar scenes, and some new ones. Often, it is a lazy drift. Lately, it is swollen and fast. I wish it would slow down. It will.

    1. Of course you’d do just fine, Jim. On small boats, like the ones they use at camp, it’s easy enough to right one if it goes over. And on larger keel sailboats, the physics of it all works against capsizing. The external force of the wind is counterbalanced by the weight of the keel, so if you ease the sheets and spill some air out of the sails, you’ll pop right back up.

      Every boat has its favorite angle of heel. The boat I most enjoyed sailing liked about 15 degrees. When you get one just right, it’s the best thing in the world. That’s one reason I enjoyed offshore sailing so much. With a nice, constant wind, you can set the sails and go.

      It’s been quite something to see our rivers — nearly emptied by drought in some instances — rise again, and flood. It just now occurs to me that the river’s a good metaphor for time in that way, too. We talk about “slow days” and days when we’re “flooded with demands” — but rising or falling, the river always runs.

      1. There is a sailing group here at Lake MacBride. They offer lessons. One day, I may take them up on it. The physics of using the wind and water to travel is appealing.

    1. I can smell it, too — but not because of my camp. We had a place called Col. Bubbie’s in Galveston that dealt in military surplus. You could get everything there from canvas tents to grenades to WWI German spiked helmets. It was a favorite haunt of everyone, especially re-enactors and military buffs. They closed last Christmas, much to my chagrin.

      As it happens, it was Col. Bubbie who provided tents to the M*A*S*H set, as well as to many other tv shows and films.

  9. Your beginning takes me back to when my nephew was one of those little sailing campers — how brave they must have been, setting across that wide Gulf!

    I got a chuckle out of your description of the poor girl with the helicopter mom! Is she the one bundled in coat, kerchief, and long pants?? Good for her, learning such vigilance isn’t necessary or advisable all the time!

    I loved camp. Mine were summer music camps, where I met other young people who loved music and got away from my own over-protective parents for a spell. Living on a college campus, in a real dorm, was a treat for this shy girl — and finding new pen pals was icing on the cake. Thanks for jogging the memory!

    1. You’re right, Debbie. The bundled-up girl was, in fact, the one with the overly solicitous mother. But she was a good friend, and everyone liked her, so no one (that I recall) ever made fun of her for showing up “over-dressed.”

      Music camp must have been great fun.What instrument did you play? Was it summer-long, or only a week or two? I don’t remember music camps being offered when I was in high school. Perhaps they were, and I wasn’t interested. I did go to speech and drama workshops in the summer, and enjoyed those immensely.

      The workshops must have done us some good. I can’t imagine you as a shy girl, but I was, myself. It’s quite something, to look back at all the experiences that have shaped us.

      1. I went to piano camp, where it was super focusing on only one piece that we had to play for a recital at week’s end. And I went to a couple of band camps (I was a clarinet player), where we played an entire concert of pieces to conclude our time. Both were wonderful, and I’d have been morose if I’d had to miss them!

        You’re an angel to NOT see me as a shy child. But I truly was! In fact, my mom used to invent reasons to send me into the grocery store — by myself! — just so I’d have to talk to strangers, ha! Honestly, taking the Dale Carnegie Course a few years after college, while expensive, was the BEST thing in the world for me!!

        1. My dad took that Carnegie course, too, and he really liked it. Then, he joined what I recall begin termed a Speech Club. The guys would get together, some would give speeches about this or that, and then they’d critique one another.

          It was assumed that the ability to write a coherent paragraph and speak in public were necessary for career advancement at every level: even for store clerks and gas station attendants. Some people believe it still is.

  10. “When the day is over, and the fire burns low, what will we remember?” Perhaps as the little boy who said his first camping experience was his best will continue to be our outlook – as each one proves its worth. New camp fires, new found friends, new meditations and memories, and even new pull-toys when we are given the vision to recognize them. You have such a gift for keeping attention, painting word pictures, and touching the heart.

    1. I tried to find a photo online of the kids’ boats as pull-toy, but it seems there’s not a single one. There are photos of them racing and going through their drills, but I suppose their trips down the channel aren’t as interesting to the teachers and parents as their action-packed rallies and races.

      It’s a fact that every day isn’t going to be a best-ever day. Some days are pretty darned discouraging, when you get right down to it, and some are terrible. On the other hand, since I’ve started paying attention to such things, I can’t remember a single day that didn’t offer at least a moment of grace. Sometimes, a moment is all it takes.

    1. Indeed they do, and I count some friends and acquaintances among their number. But, being neither Hindu nor Buddhist, I can’t reflect on my own experience from that perspective.

      Who knows? Had I been born in a different culture, or raised differently, their beliefs might have been my own. And if they’re right and I’ve got it all wrong? Well, it could get interesting. But none of us knows, so a certain modesty about our beliefs doesn’t hurt.

      Actually, I think Iris Dement gets it just right.

  11. Wow! You’ve brought it all back Linda. Starting with the Bluebirds-which one are you? I never got the opportunity to join, but when oldest daughter was in 2nd grade I became the leader. Younger daughter began as Girl Scout, but when she saw how much fun we were having she switched. I carried that troop all the way through High School

    I love the “river” connection to Time. It does flow doesn’t it? Sometimes a slow bubble and occasionally a roaring, rumbling torrent.
    Thinking of the camping sites we all make for ourselves, that slow quiet period as the “fire burns down” is a valued space of reflection. We don’t have the time for introspection as a youth, so we stop placing our bets, and collect our winnings.
    As you know, my time on the water began on ships rather than small boats, but I learned to love the water early.

    1. I’m in the back row, second from left, Kayti. Bluebirds and Camp Fire were our only option, since there weren’t any Girl Scout troops. No matter. We had fully as much fun. Of course you remember Wo-He-Lo! My mother was a leader, too, although her area of expertise was crafts. She wasn’t one to trek off into the woods with us, or guide a nature hike.

      I’ve often wondered if my natural inclination to equate time and the river isn’t rooted in childhood and youth. We sang Isaac Watts’s poem, “O God, Our Help In Ages Past” in church quite often, with its lines about time, like an ever-rolling stream, bearing all its sons away. And in high school, we read Thomas Wolfe’s “Of Time and the River.” Now that I think of it — what were we doing reading that? Or Steinbeck, Faulkner, Orwell, Dickens, Stendhal, Shakespeare, Milton…. Oh, I wish I could put those teachers and administrators in charge of education today.

      Your comment about the slow, quiet period resonates. Sometimes I think my life divides rather nicely into thirds. First came “taking in” — education, reading, accumulation of knowledge. Then came exploration and doing — Liberia, careers, sailing, starting a business.

      Now I’m in the third period of reflection and sorting. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing I have — gratitude that I started with a full life and extraordinary experiences that form the basis for reflection now. I know too many people who’ve put off everything until retirement, and now find — usually for physical reasons — that they’re not able to do what they had planned.

  12. Dear Linda, this was an enjoyable read. I laughed about the poor girl with the over protective mom. I suppose she is in the middle dressed as if it were the middle of winter- coat and all.

    I can imagine it is fun to watch the little ones out in a boat and the teens acting as if they know all their is about boating/sailing. One thing for sure is that living near the bay, you get to see all manner of sights and people.

    1. Yes, that is the over-protected one. Of course I don’t remember the details — she may have been recovering from illness. But, if she were, she wouldn’t have been in the photo with us.

      It’s wonderful fun to watch the kids. Here’s a nice, short video that shows some of them doing their thing with a newly-introduced boat just a few days ago. Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, indeed!

      Linda

  13. Gee, I guess we can all identify with this piece!! I went camping in the summer twice but cannot remember one of them too well…except that it was kind of primitive and had an outhouse where you had to sit on a wooden plank with a hole in it. I never really wanted to know what was down in that dark void. The one I remember most was called “Camp Daisy Hindman”, Yep! My strongest memories were not of sports or kayaking or anything, but rather how hot it was. They had us girls take salt tablets and sit around in the cabins wrapped in white towels during the heat of the day. I do remember really enjoying the hikes up the hill to breakfast. They had butter whipped with honey for the toast and I thought that was absolute heaven!!

    Well, there was one other camping trip I guess my PYOC group (Protestant Youth of the Chapel, pretty sure). What I remember about that was getting into trouble for skinny dipping in the lake at night with some other girls. I had to skip our steak dinner and collect trash for an afternoon with one of those pronged sticks. I didn’t mind; it was fun. But, the cook saved my steak and heated it up for me at breakfast, that was the best steak ever!!

    1. My gosh. I was practically in your camp cabin at Daisy Hindman when I was in Kansas last time. I took Kansas 4 down to Dover, and then headed over to Alta Vista, and etc. What a beautiful area for a camp! The Flint Hills are one of my favorite places in the world, but I can imagine it might get hot there in the summer. On the other hand, I could put up with a lot for honey butter toast.

      I took a peek online and saw that, in 2012, they started over a half-million dollars’ worth of improvements — including a spray park. No more salt tablets and white towels for today’s campers!

      At least you weren’t skinny dipping with the boys from the camp down the lake, who stopped by about midnight in a canoe. No, I didn’t. But a bunch of us nagged our parents for a new camp once we heard the tale from a friend who had gone off to Minnesota. Whether the tale was true is an open question, of course.

      I say hooray for the cook. You deserved that steak.

  14. Your postcard to your parents from camp is a riot. All of us who went to camp ( a stay-overnight camp) can relate to the simplicity and the complexity of your missive with a stamp. You were quite a character.

    As usual, this post has a romantic feel to it…almost Jean Shepherd-ish in sentimentality and tone (sans the raw humor).

    Where I live, it is really like camping out…we have a little creek that bubbles and babbles, animals that chew on my plants, dark starry skies, and a fire pit.

    I am so grateful for this respite from the insanity of the SF Bay Area.

    My best camping story concerns my horse camp in Escalon California called Shady Lawn Farm. I went from the time I was a little girl until a teen, lived in the little girls’ cabin (Grape Arbor) and graduated to the older girls’ cabin (Westwind).

    My parents thought my little brother, Stevie, should have the same experience, so they sent him with me. I was livid. One night, after dinner, at vespers, I heard whimpering in the back row. Alas, it was my homesick brother, who I made fun of that night. Instead of hugging him, I chastised him for being a baby.

    My parents were NOT happy. They had to pick him up the next day.

    1. Of course “A Christmas Story” is one of my favorite holiday films, and has been for years. It was a good while before I knew that Jean Shepherd was responsible. All I knew was that some genius had captured my childhood, right down to the coal furnace and Lifebuoy for punishment. If he’d written about camp, I have no doubt I’d recognzie the story line.

      I mentioned the four primal elements to someone recently, and you have them, too: earth, air, fire, water. Of course, you also have those irritating critters hollowing out your olives, but perhaps this will be the year you get them under control. I can understand why you’re happy to be in that place. Cities have their advantages, and I’ll take advantage of them from time to time, but these days a less frenetic life appeals.

      As for your camp, I just spent a half hour reading this history, complete with photos, accounts of various campers, the camp song — I even found Grape Arbor and Westwind mentioned. It’s fabulous: as complete a history as you could want. I’m wondering if you’ve run across it.

      Your poor brother. Now that I’ve read the history, I understand why he was there. I had assumed ti was a camp for girls, but not so. Homesickness can feel a little like seasickness. Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to get your feet on familar ground again.

      1. Thank you for the link, which I had not seen! We drove by SLF last year; I so wish we hadn’t. Despite what the history says, it is now a squalor of rentals. Mother Roberts would be horrified. Its deterioration crushed the little Cheri within.

        1. What a shame. Still, it was there for you for many years, and gave you some wonderful memories. It is hard to lose those special “places,” though — no matter how we lose them. The people who bought my grandparents’ house didn’t let it run down, but they renovated it to death. All of the memories had been scrubbed away or painted over. I might have chosen dereliction over that.

  15. I’m so pleased to be able to drop in -albeit briefly – and read your latest. Time has flown since we last exchanged, and I’m back ‘home’ packing up everything ready for my next move later in the month. More on that later. As ever, your writing moves me :-)

    1. Eremophila, I’m so eager to hear what’s been happening. I’ve thought of you often, and suspected that you were engaged in a move of one sort or another. I hope Fred is well, too. Did Mr. Meriwhether ever show up again?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and making your presence known. It’s always a pleasure, and I’ll be watching for updates.

  16. You’ve certainly revived good memories of camping in years past. I was never an outdoorsy type, but just being away and breathing mountain air and bunking with other girls was a great experience.

    How wonderful that you have a group photo from your camping days.

    And thank you for relating that just-in-time poem. The cats have their own rules and habits about their sleeping arrangements. This afternoon, Wimsey tried to bring another lizard in for an overnighter, but roomie caught him in time.

    1. You’ll have to excuse me if I smile a bit. You? Not an outdoorsy type? Your gardens belie that! You’ve just become a different kind of outdoorsy person — and we’re all glad of it.

      I was sorry when I heard that my camp has gone co-ed now. I still think there’s a place for girls’ camps and women’s colleges, but I suppose that’s unbearably retro of me. Some good relationships were forged, that’s for sure.

      Wasn’t that poem wonderful? I love such serendipitous discoveries. Every now and then an anole will make it up the wall to a window screen, and Dixie Rose makes it clear life would be ever so much better if she could bring it in to play. Not in this lifetime, I tell her!

  17. Lovely lovely post. Made me remember my camp days…although since we lived on a farm, our camp was church camp, but we made popsicle buildings and wove belts from some odd plastic stuff. And wandered in the woods down to the small lake where we could, if an adult were there to supervise, take out a little canoe. And a swimming pool. And chigger bites…but then those were common in farm life too. Thanks! This made me smile.

    1. We had so many church activities as kids, but I don’t remember chuch camp being an option. Maybe Vacation Bible School was supposed to be the substitute. The Lutherans always were going off to camp — getting to fish, and canoe. Many, many of us envied them, especially because they sometimes traveled as far away as Minnesota.

      No matter — it sounds like we all had our complement of popsicle sticks and red, yellow, and blue plastic “stuff” for our projects. I’d forgotten about the chigger bites, but I’ll bet you had the lightning bugs to make up for those chiggers, just like we did.

      You got to live on a farm, though! The closest I got to that was the town 4-H club. There was lots of cooking and sewing, but no cows. Sigh.

  18. This was a very beautiful post, Linda. And I enjoyed it very much. I come from a very different culture, and my childhood was such hell that I wouldn’t want to share it at all. But I find consolation in the fact that my grandchildren have enjoyed a life more similar to the one you describe in this blog. And as for the analogy you’ve made, seeing our lives as a trip in nature, I agree with you completely. Now as an old man, having had a quite a long trip, filled with much adventure, and much more good than bad, I’m ready to conclude any day, with the feeling that it was definitely a great gift and a wonderful experience.

    1. One of the blessings of life is that we can let go of those unhappy — or even hellish — periods, and move on. While it isn’t easy, it’s possible, and the rewards, such as seeing your children and grandchildren thrive, are unmatched. May their children and grandchildren thrive, as well!

      Your words about “having had quite a long trip, filled with much adventure,” stirred my memory. After a time, I realized you’d reminded me of the poet Cavafy’s masterpiece, “Ithaka. I much prefer Lawrence Durrell’s translation in his “Alexandria Quartet,” but I couldn’t lay my hands on the book just now. So, this will have to do. I think it captures well that sense of satisfaction and completion that comes at the end of a good, if not easy, journey.

      Even for Cavafy, it’s the journey that matters.

  19. This piece makes me think of summer church camp. Couldn’t attend until the age of 9, and I just couldn’t wait. Attended every summer after that, and usually celebrated my birthday while at camp. Ended up being a counselor there, too, for two summers while in college. Wonderful place, great memories, but by the time my kiddos were old enough to go, it had been sold and purchased by a special needs organization. Really enjoyed reading this one, too!

    1. After yesterday’s heat, I gave up and went to bed just as I got to your comment. This morning? I woke up thinking, “Summer Camp. We need a summer camp down at Camp Dularge!”

      Of course, that’s what you’ve been doing with the women’s weekends — being a camp counselor, in a way. And it’s true that a lovely July or August week on the Bayou might not be the best, calendar-wise. Still, it’s possible you could slant it a little differently and reach a whole new customer base. My marketing mind at work — I’ll think about it at work today.

      The camps do recycle. Even our nearest (and for many, dearest) Boy Scout Camp has been sold to developers. But they’re rebuilding in a new location, and it’s good that your camp will be serving special needs kids. We learned a lot more during those summers than a few good songs and how to weave potholders, didn’t we?

      I see you don’t have heat advisories, but they’re close — and you’re going to be as hot as we are. Summer’s here!

  20. What lovely memories, and photo of you as a child, and wow….what a memory you have being able to remember almost all of them!
    Sailing camp eh? That’s new on me and I live by the coast, we certainly don’t have them here…
    This was such a lovely post, I did enjoy it!xxx

    1. Snowbird, I’m often intrigued by what I remember, and what I don’t. I swear I’ve developed a filter: good memories stay, bad memories go. I’m no good with dates at all — when people were born or died, what year I went here or there — but experiences often are as vivid as when they happened.

      It’s really interesting to see the kinds of camps represented just in this comment section: church camp, music camp, sailing camp. Now, some places like a nearby nature center are offering a variety of nature camps, where kids can learn about plants, birds, and animals, go canoeing, and so on. While the content of camp programs may differ, I suspect the experience of camping is what counts.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have you ever thought of yourself as a counselor for your own little camp? You do take in all ages, and teach a lot of skills!

  21. Beautifully written, as always. “Secure in the universe and certain of its shelter”–a particularly beautiful image.

    When I was growing up many of our summer weekends were spent in our camper in the infields of racetracks. We followed the NASCAR circuit around the South, in the days when it was purely a regional sport (not the high-dollar carnival it has become). Yes I suppose that would qualify us as “rednecks” in the eyes of many, but I have very fond memories of nights with friends and family around campfires. In fact, I’d truly love to be able to go back in time and relive some of those weekends.

    1. When I was growing up, there were stock car races every weekend, and, for many, regular attendance was very much a family affair. Drivers would come from such far-flung places as Missouri (!), and local drivers could develop remarkable followings.

      Your story’s a good reminder that even weekend camping can take a multitude of forms, some of them quite informal. As a matter of fact, the tales you’ve told of your summer sleepouts there at the farm come pretty darned close to “camping out.” You’re lucky enough to have starry skies and the night choir of frogs in your backyard — unlike those of us who have to go in search of them today.

      Now that you point out that single line about our place in the universe, I find myself pondering how easily it wrote. Perhaps that ease is rooted in a secure childhood — something to consider when we talk about the unraveling of our own society. “No child left unprotected” may be more important than “no child left behind.”

  22. Our family didn’t really camp as you are describing, but my grandparents had a small camp property with an even smaller cabin that amazingly consisted of three bedrooms and a combination livingroom and kitchen. I went back after many years (30 or so) absence and was shocked at how small it really was. My grandfather’s workshop, which was attached to the outhouse, was larger than the cabin. The property was high up in the Adirondacks and I could see a stretch of road in the distance where my father would blow his horn when commuting back and forth from Schenectady to Northville in the summer.

    As a slightly older child, I was a boy scout and did camp a few times. But that is not the same as actually fending for yourself in the wilderness which I have only done a few times.

    You had a really fine childhood it seems, Linda. So many great memories and it is great that you can recall so many and are willing to share them. Most of mine have faded into my subconscious and only pop up when least expected. :-)

    1. Steve, that’s exactly what surprised me when I went back to my childhood home, where the photo of my Bluebird troop was taken. I remembered it as enormous, when in fact it was a normal-sized house. I did laugh at your grandfather’s workshop being larger than the cabin — from a certain perspective, that’s perfectly reasonable. Desirable, even.

      I know so little about the Adirondacks: mostly, that they have a chair named after them. I just looked at some photos, and was astonished by how beautiful the area is. It must have been pure pleasure to be up there, especially with the kind of view you mention.

      A friend has a daughter who lives in Connecticut, and she mutters now and then that I really need to be taken to the northeast. I already have Maine on the list, because of the Acadians. Maybe we should add the Adirondacks to the must-see places.

      When I started paying attention to nature photographers, especially wildlife photographers, I was amazed by how many do their own form of camping out — setting up at places like waterholes and just waiting. Somewhere I have a link to a series a fellow did at the Salton Sea in California. He spent two or three weeks there, mostly watching the light change. That reminds me of someone else I know!

      1. I would love to have the luxury of staying in a wilderness for a few weeks. I would have had to do it when single as now it wouldn’t fit into our life.
        It’s quite amazing how our perspectives change with age. I am sure that, even having experienced places as a young adult, that now at 67 much of what I remember from my youth is probably no longer accurate.
        Regarding camping…I don’t know if it is still the case, but back before I was married, I camped in the Adirondacks a couple of times, which slipped my mind earlier. The rule at that time was one could camp anywhere within the Adirondack State Park, which was most of the mountain region, for free. The only requirement was to notify a ranger if your stay was to be more than three days. My friend and I found a very nice spot right along the East Branch of the Scandaga River.
        If you find the link I am sure I’d enjoy seeing those Salton Sea images.

        1. A friend who grew up and lives on Cape Cod used to spend her summers camping in a park there. The whole family literally picked up and “moved camp” to the place for the duration. Her dad commuted to work, and would come back to the campsite at night. It was the same sort of arrangement — free, as long as you registered and let the rangers know who you were.

          What’s really quite funny is that they bought burgers and onion rings from a blog friend whose family also lived in the area, and who ran a snack shop near the beach there.

          One of these days I’m going to have to clean out my bookmarks, and when I do I’ll no doubt find that Salton Sea link. Clearly, I’ve tucked it into a place that seemed logical at the time, but now I can’t find it. I will.

  23. Ah, yes, camp. As it happens, here in Maine, we are staying in a cottage that is called a camp. Decoded, that means non-potable water. We have had to revive old camping skills when it comes to, e.g., washing dishes. (The lobster pot comes in very handy for keeping a good supply of boiled water on hand, we’ve found.) We are having a lovely time, but I will confess to having pronounced, after a round of cleaning up after dinner, that “We are not doing this. Ever again.”

    1. Susan, it sounds to me like you’ve living in a Maine version of my old “camp” in the Hill Country. The submersible pump in the spring did a fine job of getting water up to the 50 gallon barrel in the tree (up high, to provide gravity-fed pressure through a length of hose for the single faucet inside — how uptown!) but heating water for dishes and showers was standard operating procedure.

      It’s a little like sailboat cruising, actually. A short, thoughtless chore like doing the dishes becomes A Project. And believe me — I’ve heard plenty of people say, after more than a weekend cruise, “I am not doing this. Ever again.”

      I presume there are other benefits counterbalancing the irritations and exasperations!

  24. Ah, the joys of summer camp and how well I remember them. During many summers I was a volunteer at our local 4H Camp on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Eshquaguma. There I took charge of the music program, helped organize and supervise the camper’s swimming periods, first learned how to deeply love nature and the outdoors, and when I finally left the camp I was treated to a fantastic canoe trip through the American/Canadian Boundary Waters.

    And to add to your enjoyment of the young and old sailors: when Ken and I married we purchased a Corsair class sailing boat. It was an 18 foot beauty with a mainsheet, a jib and a spinnaker. Our two boys learned to sail and we shared memorable family adventures on the water. One that stays with me still was to witness the fluke of a small whale break water right in front of our boat. It submerged directly under us and was larger than our Corsair. Somehow I felt no anxiety whatsoever, as it finally swam away. It may have simply been curious.

    This was a beautiful, thought provoking essay on the Great River of Time, Linda. (And what a beautiful metaphor for a lifetime). When we reach the river’s end, we will all carry many happy memories away with us, wherever and whenever we leave our journey.

    1. I never was at your lake, but I well remember our family vacation that included Hibbing, Brainerd, Bemidji, and Rainy River. I especially remember landing in a room above a bar in Rainy River. Why we were there, I don’t know, but I still can see the flashing neon light outside the window, and the chair my dad jammed under the doorknob as the night went on and the activity downstairs became more boisterous.

      It would have been more peaceful and more fun on your boat. The Corsair is wonderful — of course you know it was designed by an Australian. And isn’t it wonderful, the up-close-and-personal experiences with wildlife that boats provide: like yours with the whale? I still remember a trip across the Gulf when we were heeled far enough to put a starboard port light under water. You could lay in the aft berth and watch the spotted dolphins swimming alongside, tooking at you looking at them through the port.

      One of the best river-riding songs I know is Eric Clapton and JJ Cale’s version of “Ride the River.” I’ll not be doing this kind of kayaking, but I certainly can appreciate the spirit of it all, and find ways to incorporate more of that spirit into my own life.

  25. This is a lovely and beautifully conceived and executed piece, Linda. I never had the camping experience. There was always the cottage. And in lots of ways it was similar as a kid — we ran around without fear, we learned by catching things in the swamp, we had campfires and played games. Our trading post was the uptown five and dime or better still, going to Petoskey and the magic store that had ice cubes with bugs in them that we bought to fool our parents. Whom, I might add, pretended to be fooled. We had the family time — cousins from afar, lake friends, our own families.

    But it wasn’t that “throw me into a tent with a bunch of strangers” experience others I know had. That was college for me. Would I have been less shy around other people and more at ease in my own skin had I done that as a child? Maybe. But I can tell you one thing — I didn’t like sleeping on the ground then and hate it even more now!

    There is much food for thought in this one, Linda. It resonates in many ways!

    1. Now here’s a coincidence, Jeanie. I have the most recent catalog from American Spoon in Petosky on my desk right now. It’s a gem of a company, and if your experiences in Petosky were even half as good as their products, you had a very good time, indeed.

      I love the tale of the insect-ridden ice cubes. A good friend and I once found some old and abandoned glass eyes in the dusty attic of a hospital. No longer used, they were there for the taking. Of course we froze them into ice cubes, and of course we handed out drinks one night with those cubes plunked in, saying, “Here’s looking at you.”

      The nice thing about my camping experience is that there always were friends whom I knew, as well as campers from other towns. I don’t think I could have handled an all-stranger experience. It was good to have some familiar faces around.

      The one thing you mention that really resonates is, “We ran around without fear.” I think the question today is, “Where can we provide our next generations with those experiences of fearlessness and freedom that help create strong, independent adults?”

      I was reading last night about the drones that have been hampering fire-fighting efforts in California, and in a strange way, it’s the same phenomenon. Just as the drones make it impossible for the helicopters and planes to do their job, so do “helicopter parents” make it impossible for kids to tend to their primary job: making their own mistakes, learning their own lessons, and enjoying their own achievements.

  26. What a wonderfully rich, nostalgic and evocative post, Linda – and what a rich swathe of varied memories it has brought forth from your blogging community. I’m still reflecting on my responses to the series of philosophical questions at the end – think I’ve done not too badly, though! Love the image you used for your title….camping out by the river called Time…and I’ve posted the Iris DeMent song on my “Writing from the Twelfth House” Facebook Page. Thank you!

    1. Isn’t that DeMent song wonderful, Anne? I saw her in concert decades ago. It was a dark time in her life, and though her performance was a good one, she seemed to be an unhappy person. Things have changed for her, and I’m glad.

      I thought of something last night that I think will resonate with you. It occured to me that many of us try to dam the River of Time, stopping its flow with blocks of denial, resentment, and so on. Others actually try to reverse its flow — a vain undertaking if ever there was one. (And one often undertaken because of vanity!)
      Eliot got it right, I think, when he wrote:

      ” I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
      Is a strong brown god – sullen, untamed and intractable,
      Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
      Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
      Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
      The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
      By the dwellers in cities – ever, however, implacable.
      Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder
      Of what men choose to forget.”

      1. Thank you for this beautiful, wise chunk of Eliot. The river of time needs to be respected, revered – and followed until we flow with it into that great Universal Sea to which everything returns in its due time…

  27. I was a Girl Scout, and I went to our Girl Scout Camp the first year it was open. We had tent platforms on account of snakes, and the dining hall was not yet finished. Conditions were primitive compared to what it was like the next year. Because we were the first ever campers to use the camp, we helped build some of the facilities. We were pioneers and I loved every minute of it. Our drinking water came out of a Lyster bag because they hadn’t finished the plumbing from the well.and the trays we used in the dining hall were military surplus from the Air Force base just outside of town. We dug fire pits and hauled rocks to surround them. We gathered stones to mark the edges of trails, We swan in the river. We sang songs both silly and beautiful out of small paperback songbooks with a yellow cover. (I still remember the songs.) We made drinking cups out of a tin can and put a twine cover on it using the knot you use to keep a rope from raveling. We made candle holders out of tuna cans with glass chimneys and the lid off a glass catsup bottle to hold the candle. We affixed it to the tuna can with a brass rivet. We learned to do square and round braiding and made lanyards for our pocket knives out of that colored plastic cording.We took nature hikes, found camel bones and cow bones and devil’s claws. All our camp counselors had nicknames — Tadpole, Dingdong (her last name was “Bell” of course) and Skeet(er) are the ones I recall. It was a happy two weeks of summer fun.

    When my camp-out by the River Called Time is over, I hope my response to being called home is the same as every other kid called indoors at the end of a long summer evening of play, “Awww, Do I have to? It’s not dark yet..”

    1. I love the thought of you helping to build the camp. That’s a rare experience, and one I think would have made camping a source of pride, as well as enjoyment.

      It’s surprising to me how many camp songs I still remember. “White Coral Bells,” “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” and “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” come to mind. Oh — and “A Cabin in the Woods,” where a little man at the window stood. I still remember all the hand gestures.

      I had to refresh my knowledge of the devil’s claw. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, or at least I haven’t been hooked by one. If I had, I’d surely remember it. And I love that you found camel bones — as interesting as arrowheads, and maybe moreso.

      What I don’t remember are my counselors, or their names. That seems a little strange. I think I must have liked them, because a truly “bad” one probably would have stayed in mind.

      As for your response to being called home, it’s one I remember well, and often would offer, in exactly those words.

  28. It was fun to recall my own experiences as I read of those you portray. I camped with friends, with Air Cadets, with church, with school, with family, and more. All of these experiences deepened my sense of self, the world, and God. I am thankful for each, and on my deathbed will remember some of them, I am sure. Next weekend my eldest has planned a canoe camping trip for us. We put into the lake and paddle some 5 km to our campsite. I have only done this once before, and it was such fun. I’m truly looking forward to it. And between now and then… sailing. I’m on holidays as of tomorrow!

    1. I suspect your environment certainly encouraged camping, Allen: so many experiences! And it’s great that you’re still involved, and that you’ve clearly passed on the love of the outdoors to your kids. The canoe trip sounds wonderful.

      And you’re sailing again! We’re moving into the heat of summer and toward the doldrums of August. This is the time of year when many boaters (and others) head for the mountains, or Canada generally. Hot is one thing, but hot with no wind is quite another, especially for sailboaters. “Hey, let’s go out and sweat in the pool of perfectly calm water” doesn’t thrill many people I know.

      Enjoy your holidays!

  29. Your post’s title suddenly reminds me of something that Thoreau wrote in Walden:

    “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

    1. I know far too little of Thoreau’s writing, so this is new to me. It’s lovely, and I confess to being just a little tickled that we would have chosen variations of the same metaphor for time.

  30. I had a three-year ‘camping out’ experience…the immigration camp at Somers on the Mornington Peninsula; a creek running next to it where we swam frequently, the beach very near where we also swam and built sandcastles and walked along to the next town, only a few minutes away, but you could do that only at low tide. Bare foot, shorts and light shirts, no dresses (or rarely), a freedom greatly missed once we went to the big city, Melbourne, which I didn’t like and haven’t, really, for quite some time! Great place, great memories. Later camps just didn’t match up to that first experience (from the age of 4 to 7), as the children and people were quite different types, the Aussies.

    1. I’ve just had an introduction to the history of the Somers camp, of which I knew nothing. It’s very interesting, really — especially the number of incarnations it’s gone through. And your description of life there makes clear there were some real delights, despite the uprooting you’d undergone.

      I can imagine the move to Melbourne was quite a change. I’ve known so little about Australia and New Zealand, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, that’s changing. It’s much more interesting reading the posts and seeing the photographs from people who live there, than simply getting the “facts and figures” from an informational site.

      So nice to have you stop by. You’re always welcome here!

      Linda

      1. Thank you for the welcome, Linda!
        Re the Somers Camp…what were you reading? I have a book prepared by a resident and published by him in jan2000, Bruce Bennett, called ‘All our Somers…A History of Somers, Victoria’. I certainly learned a lot myself in reading this book. I like the analogy in the title, as the front and back covers have summer beach scenes from the town; looking quite idyllic.

        1. Hooray for the ability to search our seach history. Here’s the link to the piece I read. I’m sure you probably have seen it, too, but it was a nice introduction. That is a good book title, too. I do like a clever title.

          1. That is a good link; the first pic, of boys in a dinghy, is in Merricks Creek which runs next to the Camp and where I swam many wonderful hours with my friends!
            Here is a Wikipedia link with more info, and a link to Bennett’s book.
            It is still an idyllic place, what I call the millionaire’s sleepy hollow. It is a wonderful bush setting and all homes tend to stil be bushified, which is fabulous, as the community is very eco-conscious and active in that regard. I’d like to live there, but it’s just not possible. I was thre last for my birthday, over three days/nights, in May 2013, just before receiving my breast cancer confirmation. That holiday did me the world of good, it is that sort of place. I did take some photos whilst there, but haven’t downloaded them yet! Wow! I’d better do that soon…after my Win10 upgrade.

  31. I only went camping once, in the real sense of the word… I’d like to try it again, maybe once I’m in Vancouver. Those mountains call out to be explored. When I was young, though, my siblings and I used to build shelters in the woods and play-camp during the day. Some of my fondest memories come from that time.

    1. Day camp is day camp, even if it’s improvised and unsupervised. (Or, especially if it’s unsupervised!) I can imagine how much fun you would have had. Some enjoy playing house, but playing camp has a lot going for it, too. And don’t I envy you, that you had siblings to play with. Despite my friends’ arguments to the contrary, I think only children miss a lot.

      From what I’ve heard, Vancouver and the surrounding area is paradise for outdoor activities. I know you’ll enjoy it.

  32. Little sailors are the most fun to watch grow into the sport. When we first started sailing Hobie cats at TX City Dike, there were quite a few young children – as they grew older they became highly sought for racing crew as they took to it so early and had such automatic natural instincts.

    Wildwood was the Girl Scout camp next to Strake – I was a counselor there (arts and crafts expert…all the things you can make out of pine cones…) one summer during college years. It was smaller compared to the others – no horses, a small lake, a pool and all sorts of animal “pets” to care for including a huge boa. Usually had the younger/less adventurous campers…which we dragged through the mud hikes when it rained and got let them be kids instead of precious children. We used to run into the Strake counselors at the laundry mat during rainy weeks. My brother went to Strake – it was a cool camp. Both boy and girl scouts have changed focus from outdoor camps – now often there are dorm type rooms and computers. With the excuse that kids are no longer interested in camping, many of the camps have been sold off. Sad. Sleep overs indoors /hotel ballrooms just doesn’t have the same experiences gained.

    Kids are so disconnected to nature as it is. Strake has shrunk and on different land as the taxes got so high, the Scouting board intentionally let the original fall into ruin to the point that to fix it all would cost too much ( so was said) …and the developers offered so much – they could buy all shiny new! (and the city/county would get taxes instead of a non profit owning all that valuable land)

    Casa Mare was the sailing camp (now has English riding horses and a ring. Peach Creek Ranch has been sold – and the horses moved to Casa and I don’t think they offer Western style or have session rodeos like we did – I still have my crepe paper ribbons – and not everyone got a ribbon – only if you actually placed. So PC incorrect?) for grades 9-12. It was the golden camp – sailboats and indoor plumbing! OUr troop did spend a weekend campout there once so we did get to see it and get to hear all the Casa Mare legends and ghost stories. (Shiver). One of my friend’s grandmothers lived on the property right next door on the bay.

    Your last 4 paragraphs are inspirational poster worthy….really…sell on line?
    Lovely summer post

    1. Oh, wait. I think it was called Camp Robinwood by that time. Still had the platform tents with roll up canvas sides…if you were worried we’d stake the goat out for the night on your steps…it chased snakes and was a great guard dog (we told them if they were scared to be outside with no walls)….it did know how to sneak under the mosquito nets and curl up on the foot of the bed for the night…and get off before anyone noticed)

      1. That’s different, and fun: that you had a goat. But did you have teepees? Our Camp Fire camp had teepees for the older girls, and getting to stay in one of those was a high honor. The goat would have been fun, though.

          1. It took a while, but I found a photo of the teepee at camp. There’s a motel/camp ground in Wharton that has individual teepees as motel units. They’re concrete, though, and come with all the necessaries: wifi, tv, microwave, AC, etc. They’re cute, but not nearly kitschy enough for my taste. If I’m going to shell out $70, I’ll take two nights at the Blessing hotel over a concrete teepee.

            1. It is Wharton. I was disappointed when dad stopped at one teepee motel out west so I could see it. Concrete! Not deerskin at all. The owner was happy to let us look inside.
              I think there was an I Love Lucy episode with them staying in a teepee motel

    2. Since I first read your comment, Phil, I’ve been trying to remember the story I was told when I first moved here about a combination “party house” and “haunted house” down by Casa Mare on Todville. Whether the ghosts were having a party, or the spirt of the parties given hovered over the place, I can’t remember. I do remember thinking at the time (twenty-five years ago, now!) that whatever went on probably provided fodder for some great stories for the campers.

      I love your mention of allowing kids to be kids instead of “precious children.” And I confess I was astonished by that mention of sleepovers in ballrooms.As for computers — that’s why I always would choose one of those long-established camps in the hill country, like Waldemar, where getting unplugged is part of the experience. No email, no texting, no devices. Now, that’s wild!

      I had no idea you’re a pinecone craft expert. I’ll keep that in mind when Christmas rolls around!

  33. “But in a larger sense, we have only one trip, one chance to camp out along the river called Time. When the day has ended and the fire burns low, what will we remember?

    “Will we have taken some time for play? Will we have admitted our fears? Will we have known the joy of learning? Will we have worked to provide for our own needs, and the needs of others? Will we have stopped to enjoy the true luxuries of life, the variety of nature, and the warmth of companionship? Will we sleep at last in peace: secure in the universe and certain of its shelter?”

    So very well put!

    Growing up in Saint Lucia, I can safely say that camping, with or without one’s parents, wasn’t part of our culture (in my time, at least). But, there were so many opportunities for boys and girls to learn something useful (outside of the classroom environment), and have fun while doing it: hiking in search of mangoes, enjoying a day at the beach, going crab-hunting after a heavy rain, listening to grown-ups recount stories of their own youthful exploits in a group setting.

    These are the real treasures we need to accumulate when we go “camping out by the river called time”.

    Exquisite piece, Linda. Absolutely love it!

    Andrew

    1. In many respects, Andrew, what we called camping, you experienced as life. I’ve been trying to remember whether any of my friends who lived on farms went camping with us, and I don’t believe they did. We needed camps to learn more about nature and the outdoors — not necessary for kids who were milking cows, weeding gardens, fishing the pond, and picking berries along the fence rows.

      Speaking of hiking in search of mangoes, I picked one up at my farmers’ market yesterday. I’ve been thinking of them since you wrote about them so eloquently, and decided to give them another try. If my allergic reaction has disappeared, I’ll have one more treat to enjoy in my life. It would be more fun if I could pick them from the tree, but on the other hand, look at what’s growing under my bedroom window. I spotted them a couple of weeks ago, and just laughed. Apparently our winter was milder than I realized!

      When I asked my apartment manager for permission to pick the bananas once they ripen, she said, “What bananas? We’ve got banana trees?” Someone needs a camping session!

  34. This post reminds of when I was younger and camping out all the time with friends. I still do – mostly when backpacking – but much less than in those early days. And I do agree with you, until death do us in, we should live as fully and enriched as possible. Lovely post.

    1. You certainly have had some great camping experiences recently, Otto. I can’t help but think of those wonderful photos you took in the Pacific NW. I was going to say that I’ve gotten away from camping, but then I realized that cruising by boat is very much like camping on land, and offers some of the same rewards.

      Camping and cruising have this in common, too: they slow us down, and make us deal with the physical world. There’s a sense in which a camera does that, too: it slows us, and encourages taking more time to just look. One of my new insights is, “You can’t take a photo of something you don’t see!”

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