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Summer Camp, Memories To Last A Lifetime

Photo by flickr user JelleS/Jelle
Photo by flickr user JelleS/Jelle

I’m returning home to the east coast later this week, as it’s been too long. I haven’t been back to Connecticut in 2 years. It’s gonna be great to stay with my parents and pretend I’m a kid again (Mom, be prepared to prepare meals and I will ask to use the car). As the trip home nears, I’ve been thinking a lot about  my childhood and all the experiences that have led me to this point in my life.

When I think back to my childhood I always revert to memories of a summer camp I went to. One of my fondest childhood memories is of Camp Woodstock. Sending me off to summer camp was probably the best decision my parents made, definitely for my sake but probably more their’s. I was a hyper little only-child who needed to run wild with other kids. I love hearing my Mom recall the first summer she dropped me off at Camp Woodstock. I think I was like 5 or 6 and she decided to only send me for a week, as a trial. Apparently when she picked me up at the end of that week I was crying along with all the other kids. But the other kids were crying because they missed their parents and were upset that they left them for so long. I was crying because I wanted my Mom to turn back around and leave me for another week.

I loved that Camp right from the start. It was organized very well, the experience could be customized for just about any kid to enjoy. Your days were spent enjoying 3 activities and a swim class. The camp was right on a lake and you were required to participate in swim activities based on your skill level (one of the first things you do when you get to camp is take a swim test). You also signed up for the activities you wanted on day one. There were limited slots so you could only sign up for available activities, but there were was an array to chose from. Everything from every sport imaginable to arts and crafts to kayaking, canoeing, you name it.

You stayed in a cabin with other kids your own age and this instantly turned into a camp-wide competition. If your cabin racked up the most points by the end of the session you won something, which I can’t even remember. It didn’t matter though, I was all about bragging rights. This was an ingenius idea to get us to clean our cabins every morning. Cleanest cabin was announced after breakfast each morning in front of the whole camp! Points and an ice cream party or something like that was to be had. Big time.

Each night was spent enjoying a camp-wide activity. This usually involved another competition, like Capture the Flag (in the woods with flashlights, awesome). There was a casino night, a scavenger hunt that involved finding counselors dressed up as characters (which also took place in the woods), camping out one night with the cabin, and a dance the last night. This was a co-ed camp so “the dance” was also big time.

I only went to this camp for a few years as a kid but loved every minute of it. Creating great friendships over competition and sports. The camp was a huge facility that instilled in me a love for the outdoors and adventure. I often thought about becoming a counselor there later in life (when I was still living in Connecticut). It just would have been cool to give other kids similar experiences to take with them.

I realize I sound like a little kid when I speak of this camp but it meant a lot to me. If you asked my wife, she could tell you all about it too because I’ve spoke so much about it over the years. I think the impact that it had on me is pretty special. I know it had a role in shaping the person I am today.

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