Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ahhhhh.........Camp Bethel

This past Sunday, we dropped the boys off at Junior High Camp. I attended the same camp as a kid, and later counseled there for several years. I have some great memories and, oddly enough, several of my old friends are directing/counseling my boys this week, or have children that are attending as campers. Like a magnet, Camp Bethel seems to draw us all back eventually, in one way or another.

In any case, I hope the boys are building the wonderful friendships and memories. I haven't heard from them, and I'm sure I won't until after they are picked up on Saturday. They are doing what they should--being boys and enjoying life away from home to the fullest.

For me, camp always went far beyond the basic activities of rafting, swimming, and campfire. When I tell old camp stories, I find that I often describe the schedule and what we spent our time doing, but that is not truly what Camp Bethel was to me. It was so much deeper, but something that I can't really put into words. To say that I grew up with my fellow campers sounds silly when said aloud, as we truly only spent one week together each year. But in many ways, they had just as much influence on my life growing up as my school classmates, with which I spent nine months each year.

This is a story that portrays my innocence at age 15 or 16. I have never told the boys this story, so I'll have to let them read this when they get home. Here goes...

Almost all teenagers arrive at camp with some expectation that they are going to stay up all night, or sneak out, or do some other "something". I was no different. I had been attending camp for several years, but I was now a teen and liked to think of myself as slightly rebellious. Living in a small town where I was highly recognizable did not give me much opportunity for rebellion, as I was totally convinced that if I so much as spit on the sidewalk, my parents would find out. But here I hour from home with no parents for an entire week.

So, one evening, another girl in my cabin and I decided that we were going to sneak out in the middle of the night. She was also a girl from my hometown, and someone that also harbored an inner rebel. (Yeah right!) We made an arrangement that one would wake up the other at a certain time, and we discreetly set out our clothes and shoes so we would be able to dress quickly and quietly. The time came, and we slipped quickly out of our cabin. Now on the front porch, we exchanged big grins and tiptoed down the stairs, quite pleased with our success thus far.

Now.......this had been fully pre-meditated and we're feeling quite smart. We have outsmarted our cabin counselor and all the other girls in our cabin, and we are outside at 2 a.m. with no adults in sight. We are REBELS.

However, we forgot a few things:
1) Its dark, heavily wooded, and the cabins are approximately 30 yards apart with virtually no exterior lighting. It is so dark that we can hardly see the myriad of paths that wind the way through the camp to the main complex.
2) Its cold and foggy. We are on a large chunk of property located at the south end of the Olympic Rain Forest--a solid 20 minute drive from the nearest town. Isolated ocean beaches are not too far to the west. At two o'clock in the morning, its none to warm. Mosquitoes like this environment and they are hungry.
3) We are ALONE and without a plan. So........we go and throw rocks at a boys cabin until a couple of boys come out. Of course, they ask what we are doing. We tell them, "Sneaking out." Brilliant.
4) We stumble around on the dark paths for approximately 10 minutes with said boys, trying to come up with some entertainment that will not involve waking up any adults. We're avoiding the main complex, so as not to get seen by someone who may be up moving around. However, by avoiding the main complex, we are also without light, heat, and any activities that may be slightly amusing at 2:00 am.
5) One of us finally caves in and mentions that we are cold. Three other heads nod in agreement. We go back to our respective cabins and back to bed.

We are teenagers. We have successfully rebelled.

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