There are tons of traits from my parents that you can see in me. I have the familial “not-so-small” tush, the long ovangularly shaped face, and the skills to pack carry-on only for a week long trip to Europe. I also inherited my love for sleep-away camp. You see, my parents met at my beloved summer home-which makes me love it just that much more!!
Growing up, my sister and I would listen to stories about summers spent in the Adirondacks. We knew both the girls AND boys camp’s alma maters and sang them frequently. We only listened to James Taylor and Joni Mitchell (sleep-away camp staples) in the house. We watched Meatballs and thought it was the story of how our parents met. We wore our parents’ old camp t-shirts with their name tapes still sewn into the collar. We were literally raised to love camp. So, it should’ve been no surprise to my parents that Katie and I each remained at camp for 13 years!
For my parents, visiting day each summer was more than just seeing their kids that they shipped off to upstate NY for 2 months. It was about re-visiting their childhood. We would go bunk to bunk looking for plaques with their names on it. We’d head to the arts & crafts shack to see my mom’s name still painted on the rafters. We sat in the social hall where my mom and I both were in performances of “The Sound Of Music”. We ‘d go to the boys camp during free play so my dad could shoot hoops. We ran into their old campers/counselors/camp friends and play several games of remember when. My dad…the man who only likes to be called David not Dave, would respond to people calling him “Robo”. Was this an alternate universe? No, this was camp.
Being an alumni kid was pretty cool, too! When families would come to tour camp, my sister and I were usually a highlighted attraction as “products of camp love”. When I would get homesick, I could look around the dining room and spot a color war banner with my mom’s signature painted in the corner. The first summer I was a counselor, I was assigned to a bunk almost ENTIRELY of alumni kids-one of who’s father claims responsibility for the introduction of my ‘rents. When I got home from camp, my parents actually UNDERSTOOD the stories I would tell them about how close the bucket brigade was or how beautiful the sunset would be behind the mountains.
Now that my camp friends and I are in the “radius of 30”, some of them are starting to have future campers of their own. As each of these babies are born, we like to discuss who will be in a bunk with whom. We like to think about the other alumni parents that my friends will be spending many visiting days with. We like to imagine who’s babies are going to find their soul mates at a social in the hockey rink.
I can’t wait to have a mini-camper of my own! And when I do, I would like to say this to them: Don’t think it’s weird that mommy sings made up songs to you about the “Cavemen of Cornell” and not “Twinkle Twinkle”. Don’t get upset that the kitchen is closed on Wednesdays and I insist on weekly bar-b-ques. Know that wearing blue and white every Friday night is super chic. It isn’t embarrassing that I only listen (and sing) to Indigo Girls when I drive carpool. And when the rest of your friends are hanging out at the local pool all summer, know that I have sent you to the best place on earth. Hey kiddo, I can’t help it. It’s in my genes and in yours too!