A model camper: On nurturing a nature-lover 

Story Image

Article Extras
Story Image

I remember a few days before my departure to summer camp: the excitement and anticipation of my new adventure that awaited me. I was more of a quiet, curious and inquisitive youngster, and the chance to be out in nature and to experience all the outdoor activities camp had to offer propelled my enthusiasm. To hike the trails, smell the grass, do arts and crafts, ride horses, canoe.

I remember singing songs with other children while walking down the trail in the forest. I can still recall the thrill when someone shouted “Look, a deer!” or “a woodpecker!” We gazed up to the trees in wonder and observed this rare, seemingly mystical, creature in the woods.

I experienced the fear and exhilaration of my first gallop on a horse during my time at camp and also the tranquility of paddling down a smooth, brown river in a canoe. We would stop occasionally on the side of the riverbank to wander about in the sun, skip rocks, flick water at each other and laugh.

After a long day of outdoor activities, we would all huddle into the log cabin mess hall and eat our meals on plastic trays. If a camper was caught with her elbows on the table, or any other violation of table etiquette, she would be obliged to run a full lap around the table while the other children sang to her, “Round the table you must go, Mirinda dear, my fair lady!” All in good fun, of course.

After supper, the warmth of the bonfire was our focal point. We sat on big fallen logs around the fire and looked up at the blanket of stars. I recall the taste of that perfectly toasted and (for the impatient children) burnt marshmallow, which I was so proud of roasting to such a golden gooey crunch.

I particularly remember that the stars had never looked quite as bright before. I vividly recall the crispness of the cool night breeze on my skin and the sounds of the children laughing around the circle, their faces illuminated by the glow of the flames.

After the evening of stories, songs and stargazing, we headed back to our tents and fell asleep to the sound of crickets and children whispering in a nearby cabin. I personally was always worried a spider would crawl into my sleeping bag, though one never did.

I remember the chilly calm of the morning, the first breath of fresh country air and observing the sky getting brighter while it slowly changed from violet to blue.

The first zip out of the sleeping bag into the cold morning air was brisk and abrupt, but breakfast never tasted so good as it did at summer camp. Warm biscuits and gravy was my favorite.

The time spent during my stay at camp are some of my favorite childhood memories. I still cherish and nurture the connection, curiosity and respect for nature I developed during summer camp. The time I spent out in nature was magical for me. The sense of adventure I possessed as a child hasn’t left me and neither have the memories.