Hazy summer days get hazier

Kevin Cowherd

June 30, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

I'll never forget that glorious childhood summer we all spent at Camp . . . well, the name of the camp escapes me now.

We rode up one fine morning in the back of my parent's station wagon. Or maybe it was a big yellow school bus rented by the camp.

Anyway, we rode for miles and miles on this one road, and then got on this other road, and then one more road, I think. I seem to recall some trees.

That first day at camp was so exciting.

As soon as we got there, some big guy came out and said a few words. It turned out he ran the camp.

I don't remember what he said, something like "Welcome, don't hurt yourself, have fun, make this the best summer you ever blah, blah, blah." That sort of thing.

And something about the first aid station. But it was very nice.

Then he told us to pick up our gear and . . . no, wait a second. Come to think of it, the person who ran the camp was a short, chunky woman. Cathy was her name. Or Katy.

Cathy, Katy . . . I'm not very good with names. What difference does it make? Anyway, whatever she said was very nice.

After this speech by Cathy (or Katy), we were assigned to our cottages.

I was assigned to this one cottage over near the ball fields. Or maybe it was near the cafeteria.

There were lots of neat kids in there with me and we quickly became the best of friends. This is embarrassing, but off the top of my head, I don't remember their names.

It seems to me one guy was named Mike. And there might have been a Will or a Bill.

Camp was so much fun. During the day, we did lots and lots of things. I remember going . . . well, I remember swimming in this big pool. Or maybe it was a lake.

Pool, lake . . . to me it's six of one, half-dozen of the other.

All I know is, you went in dry and when you came out, you were wet.

If weren't swimming or doing outdoor stuff, we'd go to a building at the camp where you made things.

There was a name for this place -- I want to say "Arts" and something.

"Arts and Crafts?" Could that be it?

At night, we did lots of things, too.

I remember sitting in a circle with the other kids around this bright light that felt sort of warm, and got even warmer as you got closer, until it actually became hot if you sat real close.

Anyway, we sat there and held these sticks that had -- stay with me here, this is where it gets a little hazy -- these white things stuck on the end of them.

(An editor just leaned over my shoulder and said he thought the word I was looking for was "marshmallows." He said, from what I was describing, that we were probably roasting marshmallows around a campfire. Whatever.

(Look, I don't get hung up on details. I'm trying to tell you a story here. This was a very memorable time in my life.)

So that's basically how camp went, although from time to time we did other stuff, too, I think.

Anyway, on the third or fourth day -- or maybe it was the last day, I don't know -- we were doing some stuff.

Then one of the counselors (Jim? Tim?) yelled: "Everybody ready for the AAOOOGAH!"

Well, he didn't really say "AAOOOGAH!" It's just that the camp whistle blew just then, so I really didn't hear what he wanted us to be ready for.

All the other kids were jumping up and down, though. I think we went on some kind of a hike up this tall mountain.

Ol' Carrot Top, they called it. Or Ol' Red Top. Or maybe it was Ol' Orange Top.

It seems to me it was one of those "hot" colors.

So we walked and walked for quite a while. Didn't see much. Trees, I think. Some other stuff, too.

Finally, the counselor raised his hand and asked for silence.

"Oh, geez," I thought. "Not another speech."

"Men," he began. (He called us "men" even though we were only, what, 12 years old? Or 13 or 14. Fifteen, at the most.)

Anyway, he said (and I'm paraphrasing here): "Men, the trail is washed out. We have to turn back."

So we all had to walk back down the mountain. We spent the rest of the day doing some other stuff.

With balls and gloves, I think.

Or balsa wood and X-ACTO knives.

The next morning, camp was over and my parents came to take me home.

Or maybe I rode back in a big, yellow school bus.

But it sure was fun.

Gosh, it seems like only yesterday.

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