Sunday, February 1, 2015

Summer Camp Stories (part II) .....

The first time we put the canoes in water, I was terrified.  Seated in the middle, I tightly gripped both sides of the canoe.  "Don't worry," said one of the other girls in the boat, "it's really stable."  To prove her point, she grabbed the sides and rapidly leaned back and forth, rocking the canoe from side to side.  I shrieked, and she finally stopped.  Our inaugural voyage continued and we soon came upon a rocky area with rapids.  Having received only minimal instruction on how to handle a canoe in rapids, the other girls made a valiant attempt to go straight, but succeeded only in getting caught in an eddy, resulting in the canoe hitting the rocks and dumping us all out into the water.  Since it was a shallow area, I managed to again keep my head out of the water, but as I stood up I was crying and shaking in fear.

Our primary chaperone wasn't unsympathetic, but he didn't coddle me, either.  "You're fine," he said, "it's just water."  He was right, of course, and I had no choice but to get back in the canoe and continue.  It wasn't too long before I actually began to enjoy canoeing, and by the time camp ended, I was one of the most enthusiastic paddlers in the group.  (And I have never since fallen out of a canoe.  They really ARE very stable.)

I learned to love canoeing, but I was never crazy about having to portage.

Summer Camp Stories (part I) .....

I was sent to sleep-away camp every year that I lived with my uncle and his wife.  When I was younger, it would be for two weeks at a time; as I got older, it was for four weeks.  Although, as a rule, I usually enjoyed being out of the house for a while, my uncle's wife did at one point -- in one of her usual fits of frustration -- tell me that the primary reason for sending me was so that she wouldn't have to deal with me.  I wasn't surprised to hear that, but it still stung.

Regardless, off to camp I went.

In 1969, my uncle and his wife decided to take a month-long trip to Wales while my younger brother (who was, temporarily, living at home) and I were away at camp.  I don't know where he was sent, but I went to a local Girl Scout camp.  Unfortunately, in her narrow-focused desire to be free of me, my uncle's wife neglected to notice that the camp didn't offer four-week sessions.  Instead, the sessions were two weeks in length, and the counselors told me I was required to go home the weekend between. 


I actually didn't mind heading off to summer camp, as it let me escape the abuse from my uncle's wife.