I turned 40 almost a full year ago (363 days to be exact). It was scary. It has been a big year. Forty – whoa! I remember when I turned eighteen my freshman year at university…that was scary. Then there was twenty…I cried for days to no longer be a ‘teenager’. Days, months and years passed and as each milestone felt a little lighter, I think I got a little braver. All of those milestones hold societal and familial weight. The ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’ are sometimes louder than you’d like them to be and its a struggle to silence them…I’m hoping I’ve gotten better at it. (It’s still a work in progress) Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been a camper for as long as I can remember. I started at day camp while still in single digits and then made my way to sleep away. I was a counselor, lifeguard, and Aquatics Director. I learned to swim, write calligraphy, get dressed in the dark, create silk screens and not to be afraid of spiders – all at camp. I made some of my best friends, have some of my fondest memories and still look forward to when the blue ices turn my tongue that iridescent shade of turquoise – all from camp. It’s that time of year again.
My social media feeds are flooded with photos of all things camp. The children of friends are spending their first summers at sleep away. Some little ones are headed to a day camp they love and many of my friends spend their summers (and some, their winters) working at camp. I’m in contact with former campers and counselors now living life to the fullest. I contribute articles to the American Camping Association’s publications. I still write the newsletters for the day camp at which I spent over a decade as Aquatics Director. I LOVE CAMP! Read the rest of this entry
“Norm”!!! This raucous greeting was given to the character played by George Wendt as he entered the Cheers bar season after season. Day after day, year after year Norm returned to his ‘home’, as he sat atop the same bar stool joining his mates in interesting encounters and endless conversation. I imagine Norm would feel strange if he walked in years later and no one knew his name-but if his peers returned to the same place at the very same time-it would be just another day at Cheers!
Jon Bon Jovi sings “who says you can’t go home- there’s only one place they called me one of their own” and my friends and I are among those who count ourselves lucky that we too, share such a special place. Although not Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, ours is a little spot on the east end of Long Island known to us as, camp (Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp). To those who have ever experienced the wonder that is sleep-a-way camp, you know the feeling. The place itself holds so many memories and stories of your youth that if those cabins could talk they would divulge the most trusted secrets.
Fifty Things I Learned From Sleep Away Camp
- Dirt is good for you
- Camp matters
- Australian accents are my favourite
- Maryann (the cook) made the best crumb cake
- Childhood friendships last
- Talent should be embraced
- Warm fuzzies are real
- Counselors make a difference
- The smell of the Long Island Sound is special to me
- Leadership, trust, faith, courage, determination, fairness, creativity & individuality
- Show concern for others
- Embrace differences
- Always share your stuff Read the rest of this entry
It’s the makings of countless best selling fiction novels; four friends from childhood who maintain their relationships through adulthood. Without sounding contrite, my story is real. No fictional characters, no made up locations-just four girls who met before their teens and journeyed through life with the help of summer camp memories and experiences. Last night those same four friends gathered together to share an evening. Four thirty-eight year old women who have been friends for more than half of our lives went to one of our childhood homes and were reminded once again of the meaning of friendship.
It was at Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp on the Long Island Sound in Riverhead, NY that we all first met. An only child from West Hempstead, a Massapequa girl whose sister had introduced her to camp, a Jewish girl from Plainview trying out sleep-away for the first time and the daughter of the camp manager (from Hicksville) who after being born at the hospital down the road in the summer of ’74 had spent her life’s summers at camp. It was there that we learned about ourselves. It was there that we experienced so many ‘firsts’. And it was there, at camp, in countless cabins every summer that our friendship began and flourished.
For some Long Island children the last week of June meant the beginning of days at the local pool or playing games on their front lawn with the neighborhood kids. For us it was different. As school came to a close we looked forward to eight weeks together in wooden cabins with no electricity and no bathrooms in the bunks. We dreamt of bunk beds, giggle fests, council fires, friendship circles, co-eds, cabin nights, the 209 steps down to the rocky and sea-glass filled beach with the pungent smell of the sea and so many other exciting events. That last Sunday in June saw us all head in busses or cars past the end of the Long Island Expressway, through a round-a-bout and up to the entrance of camp off of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Once inside the entrance gates, past the larger than life rocks with 4H Camp painted on them and up to the office we found counselors from around the world who greeted us with open arms and ever-present smiles. We weren’t just at camp-we were home.