Hello Happy Camper

Hello Happy Camper,

Have you bathed yet? I bet you really stink like an old shoe right about now. I hope so because if you’re dirty, grimy and funky it means that you’re having fun, and of course I hope you ARE having loads of fun.

Your sister misses you. Well, the truth is she’s happy you’re gone for a week because you always string up her Barbies and torture her stuffed animals. Plus she gets a week off from forced activities, blackmail and all the other delights that come with being a little sister. I’m sure you miss her as well.

Mom is tired of doing all your chores, so nothing new there.

Have you gone zip-lining yet? It’s okay if you chicken out. Just know that it will be the most awesome thing — and a really truly cool thing to do. Just close your eyes and hang on tight! If you see any bears, remember, make lots of noise! They’re just a bunch of fat trash diggers anyway.

Little known fact about me: I got my archery merit badge at Boy Scout summer camp. I loved it! I still remember, the one week every summer we’d spend on Catalina Island. Back then I thought a gay scout was a happy scout, but I suppose that’s a conversation for another day. Maybe times have changed, but I’m not sure all the fuss matters to kids in the least, especially when the world is (or should be) full of more important things like whether you have a camp buddy and what to do if your canoe tips over. But back to archery. It was hard to pull the bow back, but once I got the hang of it I was a straight shot. I am sure you will like it as well — how can’t you? Shooting arrows at a target is what you do at summer camp.

I have such a hard time believing that you’re camp age. Yesterday you and I were having tea parties and now you’re singing rude songs about boys around a campfire. That was always my favorite time – the campfire – doing skits and singing songs, listening to scary stories about crazy mountain men and sheep killers. All of it was good, though. We’d go exploring and learn different types of skills. I also got my leatherworks merit badge at summer camp. I learned how to make a leather neckerchief holder, and I even made a belt. I still have the neckerchief holder, but I think your sister used it as a tire on her Barbie car. Oh well.

The best thing I liked about summer camp, though, was the swimming. At the end of the day we’d all jump into the ocean and swim for like an hour. The first year I went, I remember being really, really scared of swimming in the ocean – sharks and such – but I did it even though I was scared, and after a little while I realized how much I loved it. I guess summer camp is all about is growing up, just a little, by confronting fears on your own without parents to tell you how to do it. Just figuring stuff out with friends. Each time I got over being scared of something I always felt just a tiny bit more grown up.

I barely even remember being homesick. I was; but camp is just too full of fun to remember feeling sad about missing home. I think what did it for me were the mornings; I’ll bet it’s really beautiful where you are when everything is new and still. I bet the air feels lighter, crisper, and you can tell that the day is just beginning to stretch its legs and shake off the slumber. At night, camp is lonelier – so get ready for that. Once you get over missing your Mom, though, you can hear the winds whistle and rustle through the trees. It sounds like a waterfall, off in the distance, and is one of those sounds that will put you to sleep as quick as a wink.

At first it will feel like forever, that first night. But then the second night doesn’t feel so long at all, and by the time Friday comes you’ll have figured out that camp, day or night, is all about having fun, making friends and experiencing something new. I’m afraid that the beauty and romance of this simple pleasure – to go camping – is a fading treasure. The very idea of camping, and of summer camp, feels so quaint and olden time when you set it next to the modern world of social media and mobile phones.

So do yourself a favor and remember what it’s like to spend a day with naught but a mess kit and a roll of toilet paper.

Love, Dad
PS – watch out for the biffie spiders.

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