Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old School Ode #7 - Camp Friends

Tuesday morning I went to pick my mom up from her stint at a convelescent home, recovering from hip replacement-turned broken leg. As I walked in to get her, she came rolling out into the hallway saying, "I'll be right back, I have a few more addresses to get." I didn't understand at first, but when she handed me her little notebook to put in my purse, I got it. They were addresses of the friends and staff she had met over the past six weeks, people whom she wanted to send notes to when she got home.

This reminded me of my own notebook of addresses I had when I got home from camp.

There are certainly kids who were more immersed in "camp culture" than I (see "This American Life" for a borderline cultish version), but I was certainly a full-on participant. If there was a craft to complete, consider it done, a chore to be responsible for, you could count on me, a talent show to be had, you could find me, Indian-style on someone's bed, wearing a wig, brainstorming until the wee hours of the night. And if there were a social construct to fit into, I fell right into it. I was the disarming, funny, everyone's-friend-don't-want-anyone-to-fight gal with the goofy t-shirt and impressive tape collection.

I can still remember those personal dynamics, the girls who demanded to be picked up, the ones who got homesick, the ones who were born leaders and inevitable sociopaths. My first camp crush was on a boy whose name I only remember as Toad. He liked me back and that was good enough for me.

I can't tell you how many letters I actually sent once I got home from camp. I seem to recall a slew sent out while I sat at the orthodontist, being fitted for braces. But that's hardly the point. The gathering of the names, the saying closure of saying goodbye and believing you actually will keep in touch is totally worth it.

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