Red Dirt Love Affair
I loved, Loved, LOVED camp. Really, there’s no way for me to properly convey the tone of voice that shows the veracity of this claim, but just understand I loved camp.
I loved learning about tying knots. I loved singing songs. I loved pretending that I was the crafty type during arts and crafts time. I loved rest time when we read by ourselves. I loved hiking. I loved achieving new levels in short amounts of time. I loved everything.
I also love my memories formed over the eight years I attended camp (six as a camper, two as a counselor... seven of those years were consecutive). Here are the most vivid ones.
I went to
I used to wander off on these trips and once I found a hiking trail that led to a secluded campsite next to a brook (finding a brook in the desert-like red dirt of
Each year of Girls' Camp I would take a few girls with me during free time to see the secret campsite. As years went by, the trail became impassible, but I’ll always remember it as a quiet place that I “discovered” and loved.
My first year at camp was a good one. I was in a group with my cousin and a girl that I’d met the year before in GATE summer school (she later became a stripper). The only trouble was that my counselor was evil. She refused to let us have any fun at all.
One night on the way to our group’s camp from the evening program, I slipped and fell. I knew I’d scraped my arm pretty bad and asked to go to the nurse. She said “no” because the nurse was already in bed.
Imagine my shock and surprise the next morning when I found that a small stick (1/4 inch diameter, 1 and ½ inches long) had become imbedded in my forearm, just above my wrist. Not only that, but in the course of the night, the opening to the wound had healed over.
A few weeks later, I had “plastic surgery” and the stick was removed. It's a good thing I don't remember who that counselor was or I'd have held a grudge.
My two years as a “Big Sister” were some of the best ever. My favorite part was performing in the evening programs. I, and a couple of other girls, did a skit each night based on “Weekend Update” from Saturday Night Live. In the skit, we would recount all of the funny and embarrassing things that happened to the campers and counselors.
It was a hit. Everyone wanted to be in the “Campers Update” and everyone laughed. Ending each skit with, “I’m Kaycee, and that’s news to me, “ just like Kevin Nealon did, was the genius that held it all together.
Not Your Daddy
My first year as a counselor, when I was 18, was a bit traumatic. There was a priesthood member there (they had several on hand for the tough jobs and in case of emergencies) who went on the Level 4 hike I was a counselor for. He had a close relationship with several of the girls, probably because he and his wife couldn’t have kids of their own.
One of the girls he was close to called him “Dad” as a measure of her affection and respect. (A lot of people call friends’ mothers their “other mom” and such, so I didn’t find this part all that strange.) Some of the leaders found it worrisome.
Things got really weird when the girl was stung by a bee. She happened to be slightly allergic, so she was given a shot and was resting in the nurse’s tent. When the priesthood guy found out that she was unwell, he told the nurse that he was her dad so that he could see her.
That’s right… the priesthood guy lied to be able to see the girl who wasn't really his daughter.
After this came out, he was asked to leave and was not allowed to chaperone at girls’ camp again.
For me, camp was a great experience. There were parts of camp that were difficult. There were some things that made me unhappy every year, but I look past those things to the positives that camp brought me.
There were times in my life where I had a hard time making friends, but I always made new, wonderful friends at camp. It was a place where I felt loved, accomplished, celebrated, but most importantly accepted for who I am.