Time camping isn’t spent. It’s invested.
When the kids were young, every year our family of eight drove 11 hours through the Rockies, two hours on a ferry followed by another two hours north on Vancouver Island in our car, then took another ferry to Quadra Island Just. To. Be. At. Camp.
We liked camp.
We packed our family into one large room with a lot of bunk beds, wondering only briefly about who was going to fall out of the top bunk this time. We didn’t worry about where our stuff was because we could never find it and usually only wore one mismatched outfit for the entire week anyway. We didn’t worry about hygiene because no one could ever find a brush for either one’s teeth or hair. Camp was a bubble we lived in where we could all be just ourselves. It was heaven.
We only lost one of the kids once. Rather than the sound of music echoing through the hills that day, there was the entire camp yelling “Sam! Sam!” for hours. We found him asleep under one of the bunks. Worst injuries were fixed with band aides when they were young, though when they got older one of them did suffer from a dislocated shoulder using his hands as a paddle in a canoe race. Competition could be fierce on occasion.
Our camp food was great, but kids couldn’t eat fast enough before heading out to their favorite events, be it riding, paddling, water skiing, swimming, archery, or volleyball. The energy was awesome. And if it was just a bit too energetic, one could always go to the craft cabin and make a plaque featuring a squirrel, or a bracelet that might remain on a little wrist till it disintegrated months later (the bracelet not the wrist).
The best times were around the campfire after a busy day. That’s when we all sang the goofy songs we’d learned from years past, and watched the counselors cook up yet another crazy skit.
I recall a couple of the counselors hoisting our 4 year old twins onto their shoulders and singing a marching song as they headed back from campfire for the lodge and the hot chocolate and the cookies that had just come from the oven. One of the counselors was having his hair massaged en route and asked, “Otis, what are you rubbing into my hair?”
“Oh, just a boogie” was the casual reply. The female counselors loved it. When their screams subsided, Otis added, “Juuuust kidding. “
When they grew older, all of our children became counselors, hefting many a youngster on their shoulders – boogies, brambles or bubblegum just another hair hazard. Our eldest and youngest each married counselors they met there.
We’ll all be going back to Quadra Island this summer for the first time in many years, but this time, our kids will be bringing their kids and watching them discover the wonder of camp. It just doesn’t get better than that.