Returning to camp

Something about camp resonates with young people. When I was young, I attended a YMCA camp. Most of the time it was a day camp, but at least one week per summer I spent overnights at camp, too.

I have fond memories of the experience. My parents would drop me and my brother off at the bus stop each morning. We’d load up with other kids along the way and travel to the woods. I lived in suburbia, so the woods felt like a long way away.

Once at camp, we’d sing songs, layer up on bug spray and spend our days experiencing life. I learned to canoe, fish, sail and do all sorts of fun outdoorsy things. 

On overnight trips, I learned all kinds of games, made friendship bracelets and did a lot of horseback riding. 

Over the holiday weekend, I traveled to Wisconsin to see my parents’ new home. They purchased a house on a lake in February and I was excited to spend some time relaxing. So, after a 14-hour road trip with a 6-month-old puppy, we arrived.

Immediately, I was reminded of camp. Mostly the response and flood of memories was the result of an onslaught of mosquitos that began to bite at my exposed arms and legs. Ick. Next, it was the humidity. Wyoming is blessed (in many ways, of course) because we have way less humidity than our eastern neighbors.

The weekend proved to be fantastic — just what the doctor ordered. I ignored my phone. I never opened my laptop. I truly felt “unplugged.”

My brother and great-aunt joined my husband, parents and I at the house. Plus, my best friend from college came to visit. 

One day as we were slapping bugs off our shoulders and from around our ears, we started joking about some of the badges we might earn at camp. (We started calling the house Camp Ess because several of the previous owners and my parents have last names starting with S). Some badges were ones I recalled from my youth — kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, etc. Others had a more humorous twist — sunburn, hangover, laziness, etc.

The point, I guess, is that those memories I collected as a child at a YMCA youth camp have stuck with me. I cannot remember a single unhappy memory from the experience. 

Even ones that might sound bad — like getting caught in an intense thunderstorm in the woods while on a hike — bring a smile to my face. I was likely scared at the time, but I remember stomping through puddles and hustling back to the main part of the camp to take cover in the lodge’s basement. From there, we sang as loud as we could to try and cover the howl of the wind and the slap of tree branches against the building.

Plus, all those outdoorsy experiences prepared this city girl for life in Wyoming. If you get a chance, return to camp, no matter what form that may take these days.

By |May 31st, 2018|

About the Author:

Kristen Czaban has been with The Sheridan Press since June 2008 and has covered the entire gamut of beats including government, crime, business and the outdoors. Before heading west, she graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s in journalism. Email Kristen at: kristen.czaban@thesheridanpress.com

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