Sunday, August 17, 2014

sleep away camp

Freyja is off to sleep away camp this morning.

Mark is making the trek, with the sleeping bag and the rain poncho and the unicorn pillow pet, seven pairs of athletic socks, close toed sandals, flip flop shower shoes and pre-written letters from home, with twee pictures of cats and baby bulldogs.

I have a cold I am trying kick and my sciatica is acting up and dropping my children off makes me sad.

The camp is accessed by a winding dirt road that is one way in, then turned around into a one way out.

Freyja and I went out to a bakery for breakfast and she had a mini raspberry croissant and a mini chocolate croissant, which was a foolish choice, and I knew it at the time, but let it pass anyway.  She is now acting cranky and unmanageable, which is how she is when she feels nervous.

All through the year I save up for these camps that the children go to.  I want them to go and have fun.  I want them to be carefree and frivolous and create memories that will bring them joy when they are older. I want them to be resilient, self assured people.

Camp is an alien concept for me, as my summers where spent with my grandmother, visiting my father for two weeks, and visiting my paternal grandparents. We might have gone camping here, or there, but there were no camps.

No drama, sewing, fairly, nature, sleep away, social justice-activism, martial arts, or circus camps.  

When I was very young there simply wasn't money for such things, and when I got older I was too used to not going, that attending a camp would have made me crumble with nervousness.

My father's father was a minister and my grandmother was often organizing vacation bible school in the summer when I would visit.  I must have attended some, but I mostly remember sitting with my grandmother.  I was never much of a joiner, even as a child.  When I was around ten, I went with my grandmother to pick out prize for the children that memorized the most bible verses.  I chose a white enamel cross pendant, my grandmother chose a handsome children's bible.  I wanted the necklace for myself and I spent the entire week memorizing verse and won the contest.  I know that my grandmother was disappointed that I chose the necklace over the bible, but I couldn't help myself.  The following year, I went to a church camp with the same group of people, at a lake, with little cabins.  I had a sleeping bag that was very old, it might have belonged to my father as a child, the outside was silky, a sort of mink color and my grandmother had replaced the lining with leopard print flannel.  I loved that sleeping bag and used it when I visited.  I brought it with me to the camp, even though it weighed a ton.  I lasted one day, before my father was called to pick me up.  The notion of sleeping with strangers in a cabin was too much for me.

My mother's parents often went camping in summer, and because they were foster parents to a huge group of  children (licensed for 12 at a time) it was a bit like being in a camp.  A camp for rag-tag, broken down people.  My grandfather would erect their ancient canvas tent that always felt damp, and my grandmother would cook over the fire.  She would cook full meals for 15 people in a outdoor kitchen.  We would go to Beverly Beach and my grandfather would complain bitterly about the sand.  My grandmother loved the ocean and would wade out into the freezing water, carrying me on her hip, or back, up to her chest.  It was one of few things I can remember her being truly joyful about.  I have a photo of my grandmother standing on the beach with a turban wrap on her head, and her pants rolled up to her knees, holding my hand.  You can tell the wind was blowing fiercely, my hair is whipped around my face, I am wearing a brown and orange poncho and the sun is shining.  We would build fired from the driftwood, on the beach and roast hotdogs and marshmallows. 

I did go to a journalism camp for a week the summer before my senior year in high school.  It was at the University of Oregon and I went with the other kids from the yearbook staff.  I was a vegetarian and I liked to smoke French cigarettes, and read Camus, I felt completely and utterly out of my element staying in a dorm with other girls.  There was some kind of swimming party at the pool and I thought of the drowning scene in  one flew over the cuckoo's nest.   I had a nice time in spite of myself, but it was weird.

1 comment:

  1. We had the same ritual over here, including pillow pet and rain poncho. I want my kid to be out in nature with different sensory input, and using different parts of her brain. Also a taste of independence. But I went as a kid, so to me it is an essential part of childhood. - Aquitana