It should be no surprise that habits learned at camp are deep within me. Some are closer to the surface than others: I still make beds with hospital corners. Knowing all of the words to “Johnny Appleseed” made me the hit of my son’s preschool. Peppermint Patties are not complete without peanut butter on top.
But some are less immediately obvious, which is why I thought I’d share a funny thing that happened to me two weeks ago when my seven year old, Colin, had his first overnight guest.
My two boys have gone with me to Family Camp the past few summers, so when Colin asked for his own bow and arrow set for his birthday this past February, I was thrilled. When his friend came over, he had heard about our backyard archery and wanted to participate. I instructed the guys on safety, care of the equipment, and form. They spent all afternoon shooting. They kept getting better with every round. I’m not sure which of the three of us had more fun. I remember thinking at the time, I haven’t taught archery like this in years! It all came back within minutes.
All afternoon, they drank bug juice in between activities. When it was time for dinner and the guys were anxious to get finished so that they could have some game time, but I made sure they at least ate some vegetables.
After they finished with their games, I had a snack ready for them — milk and cookies.
At lights out and they climbed into their beds chattering about the day. I let them talk softly for while, then I went in the room to tell them it was time to get some sleep. It was then that I realized, I was on Patrol. I only needed a flashlight to make it official.
Hi, my name is Colin’s mom and I’m on patrol tonight. I’ll be in my bedroom or in the living room if you need me.
‘Ghany Girl forever
I went through the events of the day in my head and laughed. My inner camp counselor, which had been triggered by our amateur archery class, had surfaced. Archery? Bug juice? Trying a bit of vegetables? Milk and cookies?
It couldn’t have been more obvious. Yet, all of these things were such a part of me, it didn’t register right away. I realized I had gotten great training at camp. All of us have different routines that we bring into the mix. I was adept and prepared for everything that came my way — including the guys getting up at 2:30 a.m. for the day.
When our guest’s mom arrived in the morning for pick-up, I confidently told her it went very well. Well of course it did. This was old hat for ME!
I used a model that had worked well for so many young people through the years. Everyone had a good time and felt safe. Our guest didn’t want to go home until I promised him that he could come back anytime.
There are many sleepovers in my future and I’m glad to know that they will remind me of camp. I can hear Cooper in my head now,
You can take the girl out of ‘Ghany, but you can’t take the ‘Ghany out of the girl.
How right he was!
–Sara Batla, Alum, Camp Alleghany for Girls