When the kids were young, every year our family of eight drove 11 hours through the Canadian Rockies, spent two hours on a ferry, followed by another two-hour drive north on Vancouver Island, then took another ferry to Quadra Island. Why did we do this? Just. To. Be. At. Camp.
We liked camp.
We packed our family into one large room with a lot of bunk beds, wondering only briefly about who was going to fall out of the top bunk this time. We didn’t worry about where our stuff was because we could never find it and usually wore only one mismatched outfit for the entire week anyway. We didn’t worry about hygiene because no one could ever find a brush for either one’s teeth or hair. Camp was a bubble we lived in where we could all be just ourselves. It was heaven.
We lost one of the kids only once. Rather than the sound of music echoing through the hills that day, there was the entire camp yelling “Sam! Sam!” for hours. We found him asleep under one of the bunks.
The worst injuries were fixed with Band-Aids when they were young, though when they got older one of them did suffer from a dislocated shoulder using his hands as a paddle in a canoe race. Competition could be fierce on occasion.
Our camp food was great, but kids couldn’t eat fast enough before heading out for paddling, water skiing, swimming, archery or volleyball. The energy was awesome. And if it was just a bit too energetic, one could always go to the craft cabin and make a plaque featuring a squirrel, or a bracelet that might remain on a little wrist till it disintegrated months later (the bracelet not the wrist).
The best times were around the campfire after a busy day. That’s when we all sang the goofy songs we’d learned from years past, and watched the counselors perform yet another crazy skit.
I recall a couple of the counselors hoisting our four-year-old twins onto their shoulders and singing a marching song as they headed back from the campfire to the lodge for the hot chocolate and the cookies that had just come from the oven. One of the counselors was having his hair massaged en route and asked, “Otis, what are you rubbing into my hair?”
“Oh, just a boogie,” was the casual reply. The female counselors loved it. When their screams subsided, Otis added, “Just kidding.“
When they grew older, all of our children became counselors, hefting many a youngster on their shoulders — boogies, brambles or bubblegum just another hair hazard. Our eldest and youngest each married counselors they met there.
We’ll all be going back to Quadra Island this summer for the first time in many years, but this time, our kids will be bringing their kids and watching them discover the wonder of camp. It just doesn’t get better than that.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”