Bringing Yesterday to Life Today

Twenty-eight years ago I spent my first summer at sleep-away camp. I will never forget that day. If I close my eyes I can still smell the pine needles that lined the sandy paths leading from one cabin to the next, down to the waterfront and over to the dining hall. I still can feel the heaviness in my heart as I saw my parents driving off, leaving my 10 year old self alone in front of my red cabin so ironically named Courageous. I can recall the deep breath as I turned away from their car and toward my eight new cabin mates and a summer filled with soon to be made memories.

My niece is at my old camp for the first time this summer. I find myself thinking of her constantly. Looking at my watch and imagining what she’s doing at that exact moment. As I make breakfast in the early morning, I wonder if she’s part of the cabin whose job it is to wake up the other cabins with a newly created song or if she’s covering her head with her pillow as another cabin sings her awake. While I put Luke down for a nap I think about her sitting on her bed during “siesta”. Maybe writing letters home or making friendship bracelets for her hopefully new lifelong friends. In the heat of the day, I hope she’s enjoying the steep slide into the lake, cooling herself off and trading lake water for shower water as I often did. AsI am putting my kids to bed I picture her at evening activity. Playing capture the flag with 60 other girls. Or participating in the camp wide Olympics. As the sun sets I think of her in her pajamas sitting around a candle on the floor of her cabin sharing her hopes, dreams and memories with her newly made young friends. And when I look into the dark night, I wonder if she’s whispering and giggling with the friend below her in her bunk. I remember the flickering flashlights on the ceiling of the cabin. The “Sssshhhh” from the exhausted kids who just want to go to sleep.

This past weekend I spent my days with my family at my parent’s cottage only miles away from the camp. The smells are the same there as I walk down to the lake by my parent’s house. The crisp, cool water on my skin brings me back all those years ago. Dirty feet, sandy bellies, walks in flip flops, towels flung around our necks, easy fun… all reminders of my childhood at camp. And as I looked at my kids little faces, enjoying the days at the lake, I fast forward to their days (hopefully) at camp. Away from home. Making these incredible memories that I’m sure I’ll never forget.

I never had the chance (or the desire) to enjoy sunRISE at camp but Luke and I did. And I will admit, it made awaking at 5:00 so worth it. Luke refused to believe it was the sun and kept yelling “Moom!” as he pointed to the bright circle in the sky.

We walked in pajamas down the path to the lake. Blanket at the ready. Noticing and enjoying the sounds of the prior night’s rain still dripping from the tree tops.

Our silliest faces brought tired yet hysterical giggles.

And when the sun was fully up in the sky and it was to “Nunny” for our sensitive eyes to bare, we returned home. To awaken our daddy, sister and grandparents.

We found simple adventures.

Walking through the garden. Past Buddha.

Learning the names of colorful new flowers.



Bee Balm.

We ignored the rain. Playing outside stripped of clothes stuck to our skin

We played courageously in the sprinkler.

And enjoyed it from afar.

We were amazed by giant bubbles.

And in love with our Grampy.

We led the way to what we were familiar with.

And were cautious as we watched a new world wiz by.

We returned home spent.

Warmed by the sun and weekend long cuddles.

We welcomed our own beds.

Slept soundly past sun rise.

And I’m left recalling my memorable camp summers. Feeling almost like I relived a few days of what I loved most. Easy fun. Outdoor joys. New adventures. And I hope a few sparks of it will stick in my kids’ heads the same.



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14 responses to “Bringing Yesterday to Life Today

  1. I was a camp fanatic. Lovely post.

  2. It looks like a terrific trip, filled with simple pleasures.

  3. Your post brought back so many memories of my own summer camp. Ahh, those were the good days!

    Thank you so much for commenting on my BFF post on Shell’s blog last week!

  4. A wonderful post–your vivid descriptions take me back to my many days at my camp in northern Michigan (which your pictures look exactly like, by the way). I love that you and your little one went for the morning swim (we called it Polar-bearing). A fabulous memory.

  5. What beautiful memories! I love the pics and you have a way of painting the scene with your words.

  6. I am not into camping. I had to go to a girl’s camp every year after turning 12 and it was awful! I loathed that week each summer.

    But, alas, I married an outdoorsy man. He would love to go camping weekly if we could. Thank goodness we can’t.

    Anyway. I am thinking that my children will follow after their father. I guess I’d better read this post over and over again.

  7. I never went to camp and I am so, so sad for it. I mean, I went to Girl Guide camp, but only for a weekend, but I never had the summer experience you speak of here. I wonder whether I should consider it for my own children.

    And I don’t know what it is this summer, I’m actually planning to write a post on it, maybe this week, but for some reason reading everyone’s blogs about beaches and summer and weekends away is making me feel like my own is so empty. Hard to explain.

    But I love the photos here, and I’m so glad the weekend was good. I hope you got some rest, and were able to regenerate.

  8. I never went to camp but always wanted to, sort of ironic since I’m not an outdoorsy kind of girl. But watching the old Hayley Mills Parent Trap made me long for cabins and songs and food fights in the canteen. =>

    And that picture of Luke and Grampy … So, so sweet. Better than that, actually, but I don’t have the words today.

  9. LZ

    I never went to camp, and wish I did. It seems like everyone who goes has such incredible memories and makes lasting new friends. I hope there is something for my girls, though it would be very tough to send them off, even to something so fun!

  10. Oh, those are great pics! Makes me miss my old camp… so many memories and friendships.

  11. Craving a weekend at the cabin, thanks to you!

  12. I never went to sleep away camp (or any other type of camp, by the way) when I was growing up. But you paint a wonderful setting for any young girl, experiencing life away from the parents for the first time…

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures! I enjoy trips like the one you just described, ones filled with the simplicity and beauty of nature and the company of precious family.

    Those are moments to be treasured.

  13. I loved camp furiously and was sad when my camp years ended. My kiddo is camper now and I love comparing notes (like how we’re both pretty awesome at archery). I love finding the past tangled and woven into the present. Gorgeous photos!

  14. Pop

    This post gave me warm fuzzies. I love simple adventures with my 2yo.

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