I was certainly no stranger to camp when I walked into Ramaquois for the first time last summer – I had been a camper at a different camp for 8 years and worked at another camp for 2 years. I knew Ramaquois was going to be different from my previous camp experiences but a part of me still thought that camp was camp was camp and yeah it would be different but like how different could it really be?
I really liked camp as a kid. It was a bit of a free for all – campers free to roam from activity to activity. I tended to frequent the animals and pottery (as is evident from my overflowing collection of “pinch pots”). I was excited to go to camp each morning – excited to play with kids I didn’t necessarily go to school with and to see my counselors. And when the summer came to a close I was a bit sad, but, in all honesty, my sadness probably lasted the 10-minute drive home, maybe into the afternoon, and not much longer than that. And in writing that I do not mean to sell my own camp experience short or imply that I wish it were different. I have really amazing memories from my time as a camper and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
But something about camp is different at a place like Ramaquois – something that if I didn’t recognize already, became extremely clear to me when I ugly cried the majority of the bus ride home from camp last Thursday. Before coming to Ramaquois I had never heard of this idea of “waiting 10 months for 2”. Camp was something I did for the summer but it seemed to be more of an activity than it was a summer home. When I stepped onto my bus on the last day of camp this year and found practically every single camper in tears – I knew they had experienced something different than what I had as a camper. And if I was looking at them with only my experience as a camper in mind I may not have understood their tears – not understood why they were so devastated to leave. But as a counselor, I had also had one of my best summers ever and so I got it. Yeah, there were hard parts of the summer at camp – after all the summer of a counselor and the summer of a camper are very different. But I still got it. Got how fast the summer had gone. And got how hard it was to leave. What I learned in these past two summers is that my assumption that camp is camp is camp was not entirely true. There are camps. And then there are summer homes – places where you really do wait 10 to return for 2. And I am lucky to have experienced both.
This past summer in particular meant a lot to me – largely because of my co-staff. When I was interviewed to work at Ramaquois I requested 4th grade girls (it was the age group I had worked with at my previous camp and I had really loved those groups). So imagine my surprise, and quite frankly concern, when I found out at orientation that I was set to work with 6-year-old boys. But to whoever made the call to put me in the pioneers (pios) – thank you.
If I wasn’t a pio I would probably find us a bit annoying – we can be a bit rambunctious and are maybe a little too in love with each other. But they are my summer family and I wouldn’t want it any other way. To all of my pios – I am struggling to find the right words to express what you all mean to me. In short I want to thank you all for making my second, and most likely final, summer at Ramaquois one of my best summers. I have learned so much from all of you and I am a better counselor and, more importantly, a better person because of all of you.
I get it now. This whole “10 for 2” thing. I get it.