“Visitors, please join us for lunch. It will be served by the main house.” Father Brian exclaimed with a flourish.
The congregation cheered and began to disperse in the midst of laughter and chatter. My kids, of course, were drawn to the sand and water and Himself and I followed along behind them. I figured there was no rush to get food, so why not chill at the beach for a spell. Himself and I took our shoes off and sat on the dock, feet in the water, as we supervised the kids playing in the sand by the shallow end.
The majority of the group of over one hundred people headed towards the food. A smaller group, of about 20, crossed the dirt road and headed towards the common field adjacent to the beach. This group dragged several wagons filled with supplies. As my kids stomped across the Zen sand garden, Himself and I intermittently glanced over as folding chairs, tents and picnic tables were resurrected. Within in a matter of minutes an impressive banquet had been laid out. A checkered table cloth, a plate stacked with sandwiches, a bucket of fried chicken, a bowl of coleslaw, and an enormous chocolate cake were some of the highlights. Family members lined up and and began to fill their matching checkered plates with food. Several children sat on picnic blankets spread out on the ground.
I noticed one little girl, about six, had sat down to eat an enormous piece of cake and nothing else. She polished it off at a rapid pace and then stood up and tore her t-shirt and shorts off to expose her bikini. This girl was prepared!
“Mummy! Let’s go swimming!” She squealed with delight as she started to skip towards the beach.
“Wait for me Josie!” A young woman, with plate in hand, began to follow behind her.
Josie ran recklessly across the sand and tumbled into the shallow water with a “Wheeee!”
Himself and I both chuckled.
“Now that’s a happy camper!” I said as Josie’s mum arrived. She laughed as she sat down in the sand and crossed her legs and balanced her plate on her lap.
“Josie wishes she was a camper. She’s not old enough yet. Her brothers have been coming to camp for years now and she is dying to turn eight so that she can come too.”
We briefly introduced ourselves. Carrie was Josie’s mum and she had one son in the Rock Hut and one in the Cord Hut. The boys were second generation campers as Josie’s dad and two uncles had come to camp as children themselves. Between the three brothers they had seven boy cousins at camp this session. They would have four cousins attending the girls session next month.
“So you guys really are experts!” I said as I indicated the family compound they had established.
“Oh yes! We are each assigned supplies to bring and we all pitch in. It’s a lovely bit of a family reunion. We stay as late as possible at camp and then stop into town afterwards to make it a full day and to try and avoid all the Sunday afternoon traffic back to the city.”
“Imagine! Two generations!”
“Oh yes! This is a camp family for sure. We are huge believers in the camp experience. They talk about it all year long. And I’m not just talking about the kids! My husband and his brothers even talk about their camp days at Acorn!”
“Really!?” I was astonished.
“For sure! Camp has a huge impact! These days, summer usually means your kid is going to be sitting in the basement, playing video games all day. At camp they rarely are sitting! They get their swimming badges, they learn how to paint, rock climb, windsurf, sail and canoe. They also learn to wipe down the dining table, sweep their hut floor and make their bed. They come home more confident and more resilient. Oh and exhausted! They usually need to sleep for two straight days.”
“I’ll bet!” Himself said as we watched Josie energetically splashing in the water.
“Probably the only part of camp I don’t like is the PCM.”
“Hmmm. I’m not familiar with that.” I said thoughtfully.
“Post camp melancholy.” Carrie said with a sad smile. “Some years it starts immediately in the car with the weeping. The weeping is the worst.” Carrie shook her head. “They miss their new friends, they miss the goofball counselors, they miss the nonstop fun. Usually after a couple nights of solid sleep they are better. Sleep and ice cream. Ice cream seems to help. I guess it is because they don’t get ice cream much at camp. ” Carrie shrugged her shoulders.
“PCM, eh?” I reflected upon how much my kids loved camp as I watched them quietly playing in the sand. Sounded legit. I considered ice cream flavors…