My kids are at optimum summer camp age. You know the age, that magical sweet spot when they want to go away to camp, they can swim, they’re potty trained even at night, and they consistently tie their own shoes. Okay, they’re a little more advanced than just tying their own shoes, but they are those kids who go to camp and throw themselves fully into every game, every activity, every challenge. Their cabin leaders are gods, the camp staff are living like kings, and everything about going away is a dream come true.
We visited a special camp recently, one my husband attended as a child, one I worked at one summer, one my father attended as a child, one my grandparents helped support and build when it was first established. Even with all the changes and improvements, I felt as though I had been on staff just recently, say…three summers ago. In reality, I was on staff for one single summer, and that summer was almost 20 years ago. How can that be? I’m just barely 30 (in my mind) so I must have been the youngest staff member EVER since I would have had to be 10 for that math to work out.
Seriously, how can that be?
Here I am, barely out of my
20s ( 30s…okay I’m in my 40s…but please note that’s my early 40s), and somehow I have children who want to go to camp, one of whom will attend YOUNG TEENS.
And all these tiny babies think they run the joint. They just learned to walk last week so how in the world can they think they can run a camp? They still have to have two naps a day and just started being able to grip a spoon to feed themselves, and they think people are going to entrust their children to their care??
Actually, they are glorious. They are all golden and fresh, thinking they’re the first ones to ever think their thoughts or breathe their air. Their attempted maturity is endearing. That’s not to say they haven’t had experiences or lived through difficulty. But so much is out in front of them, so many directions their lives can go — almost any direction if they’re willing to live on ramen noodles (do college students still scrimp by on ramen noodles?) and have cardboard boxes as furniture.
As they floated by with their backpacks and minor sunburns, I remembered being them. I remembered being sure I could do it, sure I would probably work there full time one day, sure my ideas would work, sure I would impact the future of camp, sure I’d make a difference in the lives of the campers who came through. I was the future.
Now I’m not the future anymore. I’m not sure what time period I am (present? past? imperfect participle?).
Even if I’m unsure, I’m happy to simply be here now. “In the now” is the phrase, right? Here is good. Now works. I’ll take it.
Did you ever attend or work at camp? I’d love to hear about it. Did you know I’m writing a novel that centers around camp? It’s true! I’m more than halfway done, and I think it’s a really fun story (and real, and hard. You know, like life.). I look forward to being able to tell you more about it soon!