Monday, August 30, 2004

This Weekend

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.


Anonymous said...

I still cry leaving, because I make it back so rarely that I don't always know I'll be back (and, for that matter, wouldn't necessarily take for granted that I'd be back anyway), but I definitely still cry at the mention of Moby. He may have wonderful progeny, but never another him.

Georgi said...

Reading your description of camp brought tears to my eyes. Several times over the spring and summer months I have thought about Kitty and how much I miss my time there. I learned so much growing up at camp. I miss the beauty - the sunsets, the breeze blowing through my tent, the night showers, waking up to the sound of birds chirping outside, falling asleep to the sounds of my friends singing camp favorites...

Camp will never be the same without Moby. I have only been back once since his death and cried more than I could have imagined. Those were good times and ones that I am greatful for.

Lisa said...

Of course, I thought of each of you. For G, I flashed all the way back to a shark incident. And Mitch ("I don't wanna be a unit leader," when are you not in my brain at camp?? Directing, making chicken sounds, laughing at me -- it's all there, all at once.

Anonymous said...

Soooooo many memories!
I have to say, after spending a number of weeks working on the east coast of central Florida, I have a newfound appreciation for the much more merciful Virginia climate. Your description of fall at camp just about broke my heart. As a recent college graduate (and someone who has been working in the sunshine state of perpetual summer), my perception of when summer actually ends has been a bit skewed (summer is over when you go back to school, right??). I've just realized that my first summer has passed (since age 7) where I haven't visited Kitty... or even PR. It's sad, but I guess we all have to "grow up" eventually! Hopefully, once I get back to Va permanently and find some kind of regular job, I can get back to helping do outdoor training. =) Till then, the palm trees and pelicans will have to replace the walnut trees and wild turkeys.
Hope this "better late than never" note finds all you other former campers well,

ps- As an older camper it was one of my greatest wishes that Moby, who had already been imprinted in my mind as a legend, would actually know who I was. Before the end, he did, and that simple fact still makes me so happy to this day. When he was around, I felt like I was in the presence of greatness.