Wicked Wednesday — Our History — Camps

We are celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing bits of our history.  This week we are talking about our camping history or lack there of. Wickeds answer the following questions:

1. Did you ever go to a overnight or day camp when you were growing up? How old were you?

Jessie: I went to overnight camp three different times. I was late elementary and the first year of middle school, I think.

Barb: I went to Camp Betsey Cox in Vermont the summer between seventh and eighth grade.

Julie: Overnight camping with the Girl Scouts a couple of times. Day camps when I was young. And I went to a 2 week camp when I was a exchange student in Belgium.

Liz: I’m sure you’ll all be surprised but…never.

Edith/Maddie: Overnight camp the summer after fourth grade. Otherwise town summer recreational programs held at our school, and vacation Bible school a few times at the Congregational Church.

Sherry: I went on a couple of overnight camps — church and girl scouts. Vacation bible school and Brownies day camps. After my senior year in high school I went to a week long Young Life camp in Buena Vista, Colorado. It was so much fun.

2. What kind? Did it have a theme like sports or the arts?

Jessie: They were camps associated with the churches my family attended when I was growing up.

Barb: The camp website says, “Betsey Cox is a camp for girls and young women who intend to make a positive difference in a global world and to have fun doing so.” However for my parents the theme was, “Betsey Cox is a camp that is cheap.” (The secret was they didn’t require uniforms, eliminating that whole expense.) Also, my good friend Hilary Hinds went there. Her parents had selected it for the same reason.

Julie: The day camps were Christian. I think our neighbor ran them. They had a bit of everything. Arts. Swimming. Singing. The overnight camping was part of being a Girl Scout, even the Belgian camping experience.

Edith/Maddie: Overnight camp was Girl Scouts. I adored it. The first year my mom was working at the camp and I attended three sessions in a row. After that I went on my own. My older sisters were there for a year or two but I kept going even when they didn’t.

Sherry: Barb, that is so funny. This is what the website says about the Young Life camp: Frontier Ranch is Young Life’s original old Wild West camp dating back to the 1920s. We’re located south of Denver and west of Colorado Springs in Buena Vista, CO. At the base of Mount Princeton in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, our spectacular setting includes stunning views, rugged high cliffs, majestic pine trees, and a seasonal mountain stream. It was very outdoorsy.

3. What was the best thing? What was the worst?

Jessie: Archery was the best thing, hands down! I loved it! The worst thing was being an introvert in such an extroverted environment. I always wanted to have fun but it was just not my way of doing so.

Barb: The worst thing BY FAR was when you had the chore of putting the chickens to bed, a short straw I drew frequently. You would get three in the coup, and then you’d herd another group of them over, lift up the coop and the original three would run out. It was a truly endless task. The best thing, for an observer of life like me, on the cusp of teenagehood, was observing the other girls who came from all over and had all different kinds of families. The girls who came from Greenwich Village and rode the subway to fancy private schools uptown absolutely enthralled me. It was like watching The World of Henry Orient, only for real.

Julie: Oh Barb, putting the chickens to bed. I can just imagine you earnestly trying your best. I’m not a big camper, so my worst time (and the reason I don’t camp now) is getting food poisoning in Belgium when I was a foreign exchange student. This was real in the woods camping, so needless to say it was horrifying.

Liz: Chickens, Barb! LOL.

Edith/Maddie: Horseback riding! I LOVED learning to brush the horses, to put on their tack, and trail riding. I was such a peewee they always gave me the shortest horse. I also loved flag flipping, singing after meals, learning to canoe. All of it. Bliss. The worst part? “Bug juice” – that insipid red pseudo Kool aid they gave us to drink.

Sherry: Oh, Edith it’s so funny that you loved horseback riding because I hated it. At Young Life camp we had to get up early one morning to ride up the mountain for breakfast. My huge horse was named Widow Maker and it tried it’s best on the way home. It decided it want to go and I just clung bouncing around like mad. The best thing was all the wonderful people I met, swimming, singing around a camp fire. Oh, and the view at the breakfast was spectacular.

4. If you didn’t go do you wish you had? What kind of camp would it have been?

Julie: Glamping became a thing recently, and if I could have glamped I would have been all over it. Maybe camping on a sailboat? That would be a blast.

Barb: As adults we camped with our kids many times and then later with my husband’s entire extended family when cutthroat cooking competitions were the norm. We’re returning to our favorite campground this year, but because I’m no longer willing to sleep on the ground, we’ve rented a cottage.

Liz: I never had the desire to go camping or go to a summer camp. It was probably the introvert in me but I would have much rather stayed home with my pile of books. The one time I did sleep in a camper (not on the ground) was at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation when I was 19 or 20. Aside from the fact that I slept on a pull-out table and fell off a moped that weekend, the fact that it was the ocean made up for it!

Edith/Maddie: No more falling off mopeds, Liz! I grew up tent camping with my family every summer in the Sierras amid the stately Sequoia trees. Liz, we always brought books on our family camping trips (and probably to Girl Scout camp, too). We camped when my sons were young, but in the east you always have the chance of rain and it’s NOT fun camping in the rain. When I took my sons to Sequoia National Park a decade plus ago, I rented a cabin. No more sleeping on the ground for me.

Also – an aside from this Californian to my New England peeps: when I moved here and people talked about going to their “camp” in Maine, I thought, “Wow. They own an entire camp?” Later found out they actually meant “summer cottage.” Oh.

Sherry: I wanted to go to the camp from The Parent Trap.

Readers: Answer the questions!

28 Thoughts

  1. I’m with Liz. Never went to camp.

    The closest thing I ever did was a DAY camp the 4H put together. We cleaned up the fairgrounds. Looking back, calling it a DAY CAMP was a con. It was just a way to get the fairgrounds ready for the upcoming county fair.

    And, Barb, CHICKENS! I always got chicken duty on our family farm so I can so relate!

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  2. Never went to a camp as a child. I think it would have been fun to try new things and to meet more friends. A nature camp would be great. Learning about and seeing critters and plants in the natural surroundings, how to cook over an open fire and how to ignore the clock would have not only been fun but would be tools I could have used later in life.

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  3. Loved this post, Wickeds! I went to a traditional girls camp on Little Sebago Lake in Maine called Camp Wawenock. My sister had gone before me in the 1950s and I went for 3 summers in the 70s. My daughter went in the early 2000s. i have many fond memories, but the Camp director complained to my mother that I was always reading. I had discovered Nancy Drew. Like Jessie, I loved archery, and like Sherry, i got stuck with the scary horse. We didn’t have a lot of NYC sophisticates, but the pro tennis players and sailors with striped belts and striped hair ribbons and pink LaCoste shirts from New Canaan fascinated me.

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  4. 1. I went to several day and overnight camps with the Girl Scouts. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is the Girl Scout Jamboree – the big one they did every five years. I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but I must have been a young teenager because younger girls were not allowed to stay overnight.

    2. As I said, Girl Scouts so there wasn’t a single “theme” beyond the mission of the Scouts.

    3. Best thing, meeting new girls. I didn’t have a ton of friends in my local troop. Worst thing: waking up one night to find a raccoon in my tent foraging for food (someone down the row had broken the rules and stored snacks in her tent; the raccoons found it and were methodically searching the other tents).

    4. I liked camping and did it a couple times as an adult when The Boy was in Boy Scouts. But The Hubby and I got too old to sleep on the ground, so I gave it up. I’d go again…but only in a cabin with a real bed. Which I guess is more glamping than camping. 🙂

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  5. I went to camp 3 times when I was maybe 12, 13, and 14. It was sleepaway 4-H camp, but they had it at a Boy Scout camp. They had a bit of everything: swimming boating, arts and crafts, singing. We slept in two-person canvas tents, but there were fortunately flushing toilets in the pool’s bathhouse. The best part was making new friends, and the worst part was the vulnerability of sleeping in a tent. One year, a raccoon had invaded our tent at night and stolen the duffel bag with our toiletries and cameras! We found it the next day in the middle of the woods, opened and with chewed up, soggy chunks of Combos all over everything. We ended up throwing most of that stuff away. I would not choose to do outside camping again, but give me a camper or a cabin with a real, flushing toilet, and I’d be game!

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  6. I never went to an overnight camp, but I did go to day camp for two weeks each of two or three summers. One year it was Girl Scout camp; the other years it was Y Day Camp. I have no bad experiences, but I don’t have a lot of memories either way. I never caught on to swimming, and I wasn’t a sports kids or great at crafts, so what made other kids excited about camp was lost on me. I was happy enough to stay home, play with the kids in the neighborhood and do a lot of reading.

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  7. 1. Did you ever go to a overnight or day camp when you were growing up? How old were you?

    Never did a day camp, but I went to an overnight camp every week for a summer when I was in Jr. and Sr. High

    2. What kind? Did it have a theme like sports or the arts?

    I’m sure it’s no surprise, but it was the camp that my church went to every year.

    3. What was the best thing? What was the worst?

    I’m stuck for the worst. I really did enjoy it every summer. Even the year they were running low on water so we had to go swimming twice a day instead of showering. I was a teen and it was an adventure.

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  8. 1 and 2. I did go to camp. When I was younger I went to Cathedral Camp. It was a daycamp. I’m pretty sure it was a religious camp because at that time my family still did some of the church stuff. That was for only a year, maybe two. It didn’t last because as I became more self-aware, my tolerance for religious BS disappeared.

    I also went to Boy Scout camp until around 15 or 16 years old. That was more fun and that was overnight camp. And yes, I know it’s hard trying to imagine me as a Boy Scout but my family was involved in Scouting for a number of years.

    3. I don’t have any real specific memories about the day camp. But Boy Scout camp was much more fun. All the activities, the stuff you could do to earn the merit badges. Swimming and archery. Bug Juice in the mess hall…LOL. And Slush Puppies at the Trading Post.

    The worst thing that ever happened was also kind of a good thing in an admittedly disturbing kind of way. We had another Scout troop in the town I live in. A bunch of us had left that troop to join the other one because of some things the leadership pulled. So we ended up rivals. We were both at the camp at the same time one year and things came to a head when one of them said something to me about my father as the troops walked by each other. I exploded. I went after the guy and learned just how powerful my rage could be. In order for them to stop me from getting to the other kid (no kidding, if I’d gotten my hands on him, I probably would’ve killed him), it took the entire rest of my troop to stop me. They had to take me down and hold me on the ground and it wasn’t easy for them either. There were at least 9 kids on top of me and it took all of them to keep me down. I was maybe 13 or 14.

    It’s not that I don’t still have a temper but that incident showed that I had to learn to keep it under control and why I go out of my way to try and keep my calm undamaged these days.

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  9. I went to overnight camp for three years when I was 8, 9, and 13. No tents, all dorms with bunk beds. I loved having the top bunk. It was a religious run camp, but other than having to go to Mass every morning, and closing out the night with rosary, it was secular in nature. I’m not any good at all in any kind of competitive sports so I didn’t like that part. I’m terrified of water so the twice a day swimming was a nightmare. I’m not at good at crafts, but I enjoyed that time because it wasn’t competitive. However, I loved going to camp because it got me away from my mother – a real blessing.

    I went to day camp one year at a nearby park. It was Indian themed and was a lot of fun. I learned a lot and except for the time a jumped into a patch of something I can’t think of the name of but was very prickly and made me break out and itch for the rest of the week, it was all good. (I was gathering wood for a fire to cook lunch.) I think I was around 10 years old. I loved this camp because there were no competitive sports, just a lot of very interesting Indian lore and how to live in the woods.

    My camping experiences in tents were all in the rain forest in Peru, after the ago of 38. I loved that. I loved the challenge and proving I could do things I didn’t think I was capable of. I had to quit that when I got older – just too hard on the old bod.

    Thanks for bringing back a lot of memories. A great way to pass the time while staying at home.

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  10. Day camp the year I turned 4. I remember I won best camper and discovered I’m allergic to bees – which may be how I got best camper – sympathy vote. Also went to what we called sleep-away camp with the Girl Scouts. Those were week long trips, I went three or four times and they were at a camp near the Delaware Water Gap. We slept in tents on raised floors.

    Day camp had no theme – it was at a club my parents joined so it was more like babysitting camp while the adults played cards, golf, and sunned at the pool. Girl Scout Camp, well, Girl Scout stuff, we earned badges.

    Best thing about day camp was learning crafts – the worst was learning to swim. I was a tall kid and they made me swim in the baby pool so my knees were scraped raw. Best thing about Girl Scout Camp -Raccoons. They were tame and at night they would sneak into the tents and stare at you. One would let you pet it. I had cats so I was quite at home with it. Worst thing about Girl Scout Camp. washing our own dishes. Yes, I was spoiled.

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  11. I did a little camping with my family and day camp at our school, and some Vacation Bible School, but the only away camp of my youth was a Junior Achievement leadership camp, an adventure for this quiet reader. Our companies had been sponsored by McDonnell Aircraft, and my dad was one of the leaders. I do remember being told to stick with the “office” of secretary, as a woman president or V.P. would have no chance of winning.
    As an adult I camped and canoed a bit in the Boundary Waters. I also spent a weekend in the ’70s at a Radical Therapy Conference . . . I remember dancing all night in a drum circle and listening to Kristin Lems singing “Mammary Glands.” I’m now in the “camp” with those who prefer real beds, bathrooms, and A/C.

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  12. Sleeping out on the back porch once was enough camping for me! My brother went to church camp but he wouldn’t stay a week at my grandparents as I did most summers because there were’nt any kids in that neighborhood. As an adult when friends talked about using their campers, I said “more luxury hotels for me”!

    My dad helped his older sister and her husband when they were raising chickens. He wasn’t a fan. LOL

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  13. I went to Camp Fire Girls camp when I was probably around 10. It was a week long and, as an introvert and extremely shy, I really didn’t enjoy being with a huge group of girls I didn’t know. When I got older, I went to church camp for three or four years in a row. I loved church camp because all my friends from the youth group were there. I love Barb’s chicken story…I am glad I didn’t have to do that because chickens scare me. 😊 My extended family went camping for the week-end several times, but it wasn’t really my thing. I am more of a glamper — I need a cabin with a regular bed and a/c!

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  14. I have really cherished memories of Girl Scout Camp, which was 2 weeks every summer for 5 or 6 summers. Funny thing is that I was a tiny, unathletic,bookworm of a child, no special affinity for the outdoors, but I did love camp. It was pretty new then and still minimal- for the first years there were no showers but we swam in a freezing lake 2x a day. I was in the real”camping” unit my last year- out in the woods, pitched our tents, built our fire pit, dug our latrine. Best thing I think was independent experience away from home and mastering all those skills ( Believe me,girls did not have shop classes in those days!) Worst was that freezing swimming (And I did not get out of Beginner class for years, until someone taught me to sidestroke instead of crawl!)

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