This weekend began on Thursday morning when I tore the house apart looking for my mosquito net poles, rushed around the corner and borrowed a tent from J and headed to the Silver Fox's house. We packed up groceries, got shoes on her boys, and headed east on 360 to Westmoreland County for a one night camp out.
Jimmy rode with me. He'll be nine, soon. I was really worried that I wouldn't know how to talk to such a little kid for so long. No worries: he has the gift of gab. I learned: about his "competitive" friend J, that Jimmy's favorite Beatle is "Paul and Ringo," that he's learned some things in school about American Indians, and that he can tell the history of his grandparents' farm. At Westmoreland State Park, we pitched tents, hiked, played on the beach of the Potomac, and cooked (mmm, banana boats). I learned that SF is organized, outdoorsy, and not keen on heights. The outing was marred only by my locking my car key in the Civic's trunk (it's the only way one can suffer that annoyance: turn the key on the latch by the driver's seat - which I did for school travel - and drop the key in the trunk compartment). After about 2 hours - and two locksmiths - and great support from SF, I had the key back in time to dunk in the pool before it closed.
And the dashing continued: I then scooted up the road to Kittamaqund (see also Friday's blog and my site, and Draco's) to train troop leaders to take their girls tent camping. We had a great group, with all but one of the women repeatedly saying, I can't wait to show this to my girls. They are very ready to bring wonders of nature and camping to kids. Three or four were moms of summer campers, thrilled to see Camp the way their daughters do; one 44-year-old camped at CK when it was new and remembered swimming in the lake and the green amphitheater behind the DH. And Skimino girl / counselor (c. 1989) "Mouse" loved CK right away. Not that there's anything wrong with Skimino. (Mitch - she knew Muffy!)
The thing about going home to CK these last ten years or so is that I become I kind of Scrooge, living with ghosts past, present, and future all at once. Here I am on the porch of the Sleepy Hollow shelter talking to Pez (Jill R.) about the possibility of her becoming an outdoor trainer with me; but in 7X, I see her at 11 or so on a water hike. Lead trainers S & S set up in tent 1, leaving me the choice of a bed on either side of the tent: well, the left of this tent is Doodles' side, so I went to the right.
It's always beautiful, by the way - did I mention that? Blue skies, hot-but-not-too, lightly salted air coming off the river. Tidy tents and neat unit shelters; a wide variety of plants, trees and wildlife. The early-turning trees like the tulip poplars and black walnuts in the Hollow have begun yellowing and softly dropping leaves. S identified the owl hooting on Friday as a screech owl. Those of us looking at the right moment saw a bald eagle soar up the river, over Pine Ridge, and off to the west. The damage to tent platforms and major roads done by Isabel last year was repaired, but Jessie's Trail is impassable and some leaning trees still threaten the main road. (I bet the council will still take hurricane fund money: if you write a letter stating your check is for camp property they have to use it that way, anyway. GS Commonwealth Council, POB 548, Mechanicsville, Va. 23111.)
While the trainees cleaned up on Sunday morning, S mentioned that Mike sometimes doesn't even come check units she's used because he knows they will be thoroughly cleaned. Tears came immediately to my eyes: his father would do that with me when I was a unit leader. I can hear his voice inside my head, still. On closing days of resident camp, Moby would drive that white pick up into Pine Ridge to pick up campers' gear and say, "Chocolate. You here this week? It's fine - go on." And the unit staff knew they could go home as soon as the last kid did.
I never cry leaving, anymore. I know I will be back.