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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Camp Walden Redux

Visiting day, 2007
Kate and Ted on Walden Pond
(This is one my all time favorite camp pictures)
Both of my kids were campers.  And by campers, I don't mean two weeks of sports camp in mid-July.  Nope.  Charlie and Kate both spent their childhood summers at sleep away  camp.  For eight weeks.  For eight years.

Oh, don't look at me as though I sent them off to prison.  They went to camp, for heavens sake, where  you get to do fun stuff all day.  Stuff that you would never get to do at home... at least not everyday for two months.

Charlie went to camp in the high sierra mountains of California.  He started there when we still lived in California and continued through even after we moved to Pittsburgh.  Charlie loved his summers filled with canoeing, hiking, and eating s'mores.  Gold Arrow was Charlie's place for many years.  (More on Charlie's camp adventures in another post, but suffice it to say, I will have to obtain clearance from Charlie before I proceed.)

Kate took a different summer camp route and went to Camp Walden in Denmark, Maine.  You may remember Camp Walden from The Parent Trap, which was based (loosely) on Camp Walden and its founder Mrs. Herz.  (Take note: Camp Walden does not have an isolation cabin...)  Kate loved being at Walden  It was, and still is, her place.  In fact,  it was at Walden that her love affair with Maine began.
Fast forward to... yesterday.  Four years after her Bunk 12  summer, Kate boarded a United Airlines flight bound for Maine, and her beloved Camp Walden.  It is there that she will spend her summer teaching tennis to a new generation of Waldenites.  She'll also be a cabin counselor.

and Now
As we stood in the airport saying our goodbyes, I couldn't help but think about all those summers back when Kate was a camper.  It really is funny how quickly time flies.  It seems like just yesterday that I sent her off for a summer of hiking, tennis, canoeing, arts and crafts and general memory making.  In fact, she was just a taller version of her former camper self, wearing her overstuffed backpack, clutching her pillow and her tennis racquets.  (Only this time she wasn't clutching as much as schlepping her pillow and racquets, but the backpack was still completely overstuffed.)

While this summer will be a very different experience for Kate, the really wonderful thing about Walden is that the more things change, the more Walden stays the same. From what I have heard, Walden is essentially the same magical place as it was at its founding in 1916.  The girls still wear their orange ties to bunk shows on Friday nights.  They wear uniforms (brown and tan).  They sing songs that only they know.  They yell and scream and sing at the top of their lungs in the dining hall.  The eat congo bars and pizza on Friday nights and schnecken on Sunday mornings.  Every Sunday they have Thanksgiving for lunch.  They sit on EA rock and contemplate whatever strikes them.  They play on the tire swing and they make giant snake lines through the whole camp.  When they sign a letter home they always end with EAO.  (I have absolutely no idea what that means -- I'm not even sure Kate does.)

Just thinking of Walden makes me a little teary.

So, in honor of summer campers everywhere, have a great time.  Try new things.  Sit on the floor in your bunk and play jacks. eat too much candy on visiting day, perfect your s'more, and make your own memories.  I know Kate is.

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