I have always thought that it was interesting that I was able to go to summer camp as a kid. My Dad was raised going to summer camps, but my Mom preferred to have my brother and I close so she could keep an eye on us. I often wonder about the talks my parents had when they were deciding to send me to camp because I am sure they were pretty heated at times. Not only would I be far away, but I would be gone for at least four weeks and that was four weeks of missing church. I attended 3 camps as a kid and the first time I went away was when I was just 9 years old.
In 1982 my parents sent my brother and I to a horse back riding camp in southern Missouri called Camp Zoe. We were only there for 2 weeks, but it was the worst two weeks of my life. I was so homesick and it didn't help that I hated horse back riding. I have been afraid of horses since I was bucked off one when I was 7, so sending me to a horse back riding camp was probably not the best thing. Plus I really didn't have good social skills. I had been very sheltered and suddenly being on my own at 9 was very scary. As you probably guessed I was very happy when my parents came and picked us up.
The next summer my Dad wanted to send me to camp again and this time for an entire month. I had a friend that I would hang out with at the lake and she went to a camp in Northern Minnesota and my parents decided to send me there. Just a few days before I left for camp my Mom's Dad passed away and the day before I left was the funeral. It was a very hard time for my Mom and I remember saying goodbye to her as I left for the airport that morning and she had us both crying. I can only imagine how hard it was for her. This second camp was called Camp Lake Hubert and it was huge. I think there were 25 girls in my cabin and I seemed to get lost in the crowd. The friend from the lake I went with was a year older then me and once we got to camp I hardly ever saw her. Two weeks into the session was visitors day and I was so surprised that my Mom had drove up to see me. I still remember sitting at my arts and crafts table and seeing my Mom out the window. I dropped everything and went running to her. My Grandma on my Dad's side lived just a couple hours away from the camp and she was also there with my Mom. But the truth is I was miserable at this camp. I was so shy and it was hard for me to make friends so I stuck to myself most of the time. When I was leaving at the end of the summer I remember crying and I am not sure if I was crying because I was happy to be going home or because I was going to miss camp.
The next spring my Dad asked if I wanted to go to camp again. I finally decided in May I that did want to go to camp, but it was too late. There were no open spots for me at this camp. My Dad then told me about the camp he went to as a child called Camp Mishawaka. So in 1984 I went to Camp Mishawaka for the first time and ended up attending every summer there for 6 years.
I hope you will join me as I take a trip down memory lane. I have so many good memories from my summers at Mishawaka and I truly believe attending that camp helped me become the person I am today. This trip down memory lane is not just about remembering the good times I had; it plays a very important role in some decisions I have made in the last couple of days.
*Lake Pokegema; Grand Rapids, Minnesota 1989