They drove me out to a little town in the Texas hill country called Wimberley, which was on the news once for having the cleanest air in America. It's the kind of town where women with soft voices and big hair rotate homemade door wreaths every season and clear kitchen messes with gingham dish towels. It is charming.
photo credit: homeonderange.blogspot.com
My camp was called Rocky River Ranch, and you had to drive over a cattle guard to get inside. It was on the bank of the Blanco River, which was crystal clear and always cold despite the crazy Texas heat. We slept on rickety bunkbeds in small wood cabins. Some of us even stayed in covered wagons. It wasn't glamorous--it was rustic--but in my mind, it was where heaven and the hills held hands. That's not my line; I stole it from the brochure. But as a kid, I really believed it.
We rode horses, and made lanyards and did eggbeaters in the pool. We watched movies at the outdoor theater down the road and found our way back by flashlight. We had no boys to distract us, no reason to fix our hair into anything other than messy ponytails. There was no internet access or cell phones--they didn't exist yet--so the highlight of our day was mail call when we'd we'd race up the hill in hopes of getting a letter from our moms, our best friend or the boy who promised he would write.
I still have every single one.
Meals were eaten in a wood-paneled dining hall called The Grubstake. We drank sweet tea out of galvanized pitchers and ate things like fried chicken and mashed potatoes without worrying about clogged arteries and fuller thighs. After we ate, we sat around the table and sang.
I went out to a friend's lakehouse in Connecticut this weekend, and I guess that's why I got to reminiscing about my camper days. Sitting on the edge of a quiet lake reminded me so much of my time in Wimberley. As summer inches to its close, it's hard for me not to dream backward about the best summers I ever had. I love the city lights, but they're no competition for stars.
I went to summer camp well over 20 years ago. It's a different time now, and I hope those Texas girls have the kind of experience we had back then.
I hope they didn't add a computer station to the mess hall.
I hope they're stripped of their little pink cell phones at the front gate.
I hope they write to their mamas, not on Facebook, but on real stationary.
I hope they still sing.