"You're in!". A friend said this to me after hearing I had been invited out to "Camp". This was 19 years ago. I had only just met this group of new friends a few months prior and apparently, being invited to camp was the ultimate form of acceptance. "Fun...I guess", that 's what I thought. I love to camp, but what was the big deal here? What made this such a special invitation?
For me, it's close to 20 years later and that invitation was, indeed, something special. At the time, the big deal about being invited just meant that you were seen as fun enough and responsible enough to go. A friend that could be trusted not to get themselves or anyone else into trouble. Back then, camp was run by the "rents" and the "kids" had to stay out of trouble.
Trust me, we drank...a lot. We laughed...a ton!, Played tricks, dehydrated ourselves, sat by the fire, listened to our fav songs, danced (sometimes on the tables!) and snacked. We learned and played games like Beer Pong, Euchre, 3 Man, Spoons & Asshole. There was "Big Ball" (a game of volley ball with a HUGE ball. I played once, got crushed and decided it was more fun to watch!). We crashed into our tents hours past midnight and woke to have the sun beating down on us, turning our tents into roasting domes. That was because it was close to and sometimes after noon. Even though there were fantastic breakfasts prepared, most of us often missed them because we slept through them.
We also created life-long bonds full of friendship and love. Over the years we grew up, got married, bought houses, had children and our tents have turned into campers with all the luxuries us campees could ever need.
These days the thought of going to Camp is still exciting. The drinking, still happens, though not nearly as much. Seems our bodies and level of responsibilities (children who wake early top the list!) make the thought of a heavy hang-over super scary. The laughter and time spent around the fire with such wonderful friends, almost like family, at night is my favorite.
This new generation of Camp includes us girls planning the menus, prepping and cooking fantastic meals, just as the amazing women before us did. The men now really kick in to help with the prep and clean-up, as well as tending to the children, our children. In the morning, we are awakened by a new kind of sunshine, our little ones. They are excited to wake and start the day...and their equipment! They eat and gear up to ride quads and dirt bikes. It is too cute.
Camp really is a magical place. It's were men become boys and leave the women folk to go and build a fort up on "The Mountain" to protect themselves from bear. This is no joke. They also disappear for hours on end with gallons of water and chainsaws and come back sweaty and happy. Boys and girls leave trails of dust while riding and return with dirt bike face (only the spot where the goggles were is clean). In the past few years a private pond has been added where you can jump off a dock, swim, canoe and soon fish. The women have a chance to sit and chat, sometimes. Often we sit for a bit and then start the prep for the next meal when the hungry people come back. And they ALWAYS come back!! Even though it can be work, I enjoy doing it with my favorite gals. We make amazing meals together and it is always appreciated. Camp, for the most part, is the epitome of teamwork.
The most incredible part of all this is that "Camp" started out as a ride in the country for a father, his wife and their children. I have no idea how long ago that was. Since then, they and countless friends and family have come to gather in this special place to enjoy each other, fine food and God's land. So many have stood to admire the view at peak season in the fall. It serves as a hunting camp as well ( I don't want to know what happens at hunting camp!). Camp has taught many great lessons and served the family well over the years. In the past, potatoes have been grown and harvested as well as Christmas trees. The value of hard work and the dollar it earns was learned. Working together as a family. All four of Larry and Sharon's children have grown and now own a piece of this heaven. There is tradition here.
This weekend I saw the excitement in my children too. All the way there, my littlest kept asking, "Are we at camping yet?". One morning, my oldest little guy, lay in his bed, looking up, hands behind his head and said, "I never want to leave Camp, mommy". I know Bubba, I know just how you feel. I am so greatful for that invitation so many years ago. It has been, by far, the most priceless invite I was ever given.