I’d call myself an extra-sensory individual. I think highly delightable people almost have to be—the world is always blowing all of my senses off their rockers. I like it. But the point is, I notice things.
Like a few days ago I was at the arboretum (a highly sensory and delightable place that will get it’s own post in a day or two) and I walked into the bathroom and I was suddenly hit with this aroma (not what you’re thinking). It was woodsy and familiar and instantly I was transported back in time. I was 7 years old at summer day camp. How is it that the bathroom smelled exactly the same? I was arrested by my memories for a few minutes and I started to think of a whole slew of things that I didn’t even know I’d forgotten until that moment when this interesting bathroom smell suddenly bridged the gap of years and I was in a different place and time zone all together.
I loved summer camp because it gave me some respite from the hassles and pressures of my daily life. You’d think I was an investment banker talking about his need for some time in the Hamptons. For me, being seven wasn’t easy and I think that’s what made summer camp all the sweeter. And my day camp was just the right mix of outdoors and indoors, which is to say, that is was mostly indoors. There was the occasional nature hike and afternoon kickball game, but day camp met at a conference center so swimming was in a nice clean pool, lunch in a cafeteria, and Bible study and crafts took place at tables with comfy chairs.
When I got a few years older, I went to sleep-away camp and that became a whole alter universe. Who needed an outside world? There was all the world we needed in Lutsen, Minnesota up on the Superior Hiking Trail, nestled in among the pines. We lived our lives on a schedule of bells, sleeping in bunks, stuffing ourselves silly on candy and care-package junk food, playing softball, tromping through enchanted forests, playing in the Rumpus Room (I love that name), sneaking out at night, having our first camp romances (always unrequited, in my case, but had, nonetheless). We shed tears as the buses pulled out of the camp grounds, taking us back to reality. Even at our young age, we knew there was something sad and unnatural about leaving and going back to another reality.
My sister never really got into camp. I think it was because for her, the worst day at home was better than any day away from it. We all deal differently, but I never shared that. My greatest escape was to escape. It still is. And if they had summer camp for adults, I’d sign up.