Growing up, I loved summer camp. Run around, get dirty, and play in the woods? Sounds like my idea of heaven! I mean, there was also making new friends and having new independent experiences. But let’s face it, the joy of summer camp is really all about getting away with things your parents would never allow, because there are so many kids around, it’s easy to let your mayhem blend in. But I was always a pretty good kid anyway. I mean, I did run away from camp once, but for very good reasons. Usually, my brand of rebellion was in the form of eating twelve popsicles and not washing my hair for a week.
But adventure has always had a way of finding me. One year at church camp, I became obsessed with canoeing. I always loved the water, but I think I must have been obsessed with Disney’s Pocahontas. All I wanted to do was paddle a boat and belt “Just around the river bend.” So naturally, when the opportunity to do a full day’s canoe trip was posted on the summer camp board, my name was at the top of the list. The summer camp that was currently indulging my “I’m Irish, but I really want to be a Native American princess” phase was located high in the Adirondacks, where the weather can be unpredictable and rather harsh.
Halfway through our canoe trip, the weather started to turn. The sky darkened, the temperature dropped, and my counselor swore. We were mid-lake. And not one of those little “I’m really a pond, but my mommy told me I could be a lake” things. A big honking lake. As the first round of lighting spilt the sky, I realized I was sitting in a little metal boat on a great big water. And there was a slight possibility that I might, in fact, die.
There was an island in the middle of the lake, and we all paddled for our lives, possibly literally, to get there. We dragged our metal death boats up on the beach and ran to the sole cabin that inhabited the island. And what do you know? There was actually someone there. Two someones, really. Two lovely men who invited all of us in and gave us water and crackers (they didn’t have any other food), let us use their bathroom, though they had no toilet paper, and sit at their table, which was covered in beer caps.
Looking back, I wish I had spent less time watching the storm and more time studying our hosts. Were they a gay couple on a romantic weekend? Was it a frat reunion? Were they drug smugglers? Had they kidnapped someone and were making them live in the basement, and that’s where all the toilet paper had gone?
Well, whoever they were, they were very sweet. When the storm passed, we got back in our boats and paddled back to camp. I was signing “Just around the river bend” with extra verve thanks to my near electrocution experience. It was one of those days that summer camp was meant to provide. A wonderful adventure and back by mail call. So, a huge thank you to those two gay, frat boy, drug smuggling, kidnappers, wherever they may be. You made my adventure complete!