Camp Woodland Blog

Alumni Camp Woodland Memories….

967010_10100524441197455_1252313950_oBritt and her brother were fixtures at camp for a number of years.  She recently revised this beautiful essay she wrote about camp.  We are posting a small bit of it for our weekly post:

“June 21st has come again: the solstice, the 28th of my longest days.  This is my real New Year’s Eve.  Today is the first day of the tangible months of summer, the first day of ice-cold popsicles tracing lines of sticky juices down the sides of blue-red lips, the first day of re-learning how to build a red-hot, marshmallow-roasting fire.  Somewhere it is written that all businesses, even mine, must be on summer schedules, all schools let out, and all children set free.  So here I am: all grown up, yet still a child, lying beneath a blanket of morning stars, wondering what my summer has in store.

The sun is coming up now, and the horizon is losing its pink-blue edges.  In the summer, the sun is patently closer and its heat seems to burn the atmosphere that much more, even at sunrise.  I am protected from this heat, my skin dry and cool.  The air conditioner hums away and my lightweight sheets lie still across my body.  When I was younger and had less to worry about, I had no need for these luxuries to protect me from the summer or the solstice.  I welcomed the shortest night of the year—the solstice was mere days before my yearly pilgrimage to the Northwoods.  It meant a racing heart and packed bags.  Of course, I never thought about what the date was then—I simply knew camp was coming.  Stuffed deep into my soft canvas duffle bags were the worn-old bedspread, thinned-out sheets, terry-cloth towels, riding-worn jeans and color-coded bathing suits: all the armaments I needed for the summer.  I packed weeks in advance and shuffled through the wrinkly, rolled up old clothes in all the days preceding to be sure I was prepared for my adventure.224699_8795698371_2866_n

I would take these bags across the state line to Wisconsin, home of summer camp upon summer camp and the true land of thousands of lakes.  The trip would be six hours by car, though it seemed an eternity before we would drive down the final stretch and see the towering pines above.  And I would know I was truly home.  I would leap from the car and in an instant summer was real, in sights, smells and sounds.  The ground was littered with grass sprouts, daisies, Indian Paintbrushes, and collecting rocks.  The air was rich with the smell of pine and the sounds of insects.  In the evenings, loons would call their lonesome song.

So many clichéd summer dreams hold no meaning for me; I have never associated summer with weekly family barbeques and dripping sauce over grilled meat, nor do I associate this season with long, stretched out beaches of untouched castles and pool chairs.  My summer dreams involve having wind in my hair and a horse at my hand or a canoe under my control.  I dream about running across wild plains and through the Climax Forest, of camping out with my friends and swimming in ice-cold lakes.  But these are dreams of my past, and today I have new dreams, dreams of success, of work, of being a parent.  I have hopes that involve business attire and a retirement plan.  Somehow, though, these dreams never feel as tangible as those of the Northwoods

Now the sun is up.  I am awake.  I am not going to camp to find brave adventures, explore the forests with newfound friends, or sail across the lake.  Good morning, sunshine.  Take me away.  The solstice means nothing now but more work, more days in a climate-controlled office.  Somehow, at some point, I grew up and left my summers behind.  But I will always have with me what summer once was, and this will always be a part of who I am.  And one day, I hope to return that part of me to where it belongs, once again finding my way down the pine-shaded road that leads to camp, my summers, and all my summer dreams.  One day it will be my daughter who learns of the summer, of its freedom, and of its power.  And with that I, too, will be home.”

-Britt Frederickson Holmes
University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute

If you have a camp essay and would like to share, please send it to: