Whenever my friends tell me about their fabulous plans for the summer, such as going to the beach, Europe, New York City or some other far-off place, I secretly smile. What they’re doing may be fabulous. But to me, all summers pale in comparison to a summer at Camp Alleghany.
And I’m not shy about saying so.
Really grasping “it”
My friends have gotten used to me telling about the wonders of ‘Ghany. But I don’t think they fully, truly understand. It’s my theory that you can’t really appreciate the perfection that is Camp Alleghany unless you’ve been there.
I’ve even tried to convince some of my friends to come along. It isn’t always an easy sell. I’ve heard recognizable scoffs when my friends said, “Three weeks in tents? All girls? No, not me.”
Now, while it would be fun to have a friend from home at camp, I don’t mind that they don’t want to come, because for me camp is perfect as it is. In fact, new friends are great! If one of my friends did come, that would be cool, too. But if you can’t groove with the tents, well, maybe you just don’t have what it takes to be a ‘Ghany Girl. Sorry.
And life without boys? It’s easier — and better — than you might imagine.
Rising to the challenge
One of the things that I love about going back to Alleghany is that there’s always something new for each year that you go.
Right now what I’m thinking about is how in a few years I could enter the world of the JCs, aka THE Junior Counselors. This seems like a great selling point for my friends, who’ve already started to talk about summer jobs in our futures.
As for me, my future has JC written all over it. (Hopefully.)
Perhaps I’m fixated on purple. Or maybe I just enjoy the fine art of denial, anticipation, and then finally reaching the promised land.
Let me explain.
There is a certain thrill to watching the JCs finally get their purple back. And once they have, it’s hilarious to watch them parade around in fabulous purple outfits for the rest of term.
So what is “getting their purple back?” We-yell, the back story is that when JCs arrive at camp they’re robbed and raided of anything they own with purple in it, on it, of it, whatever. NO PURPLE remains!
Then, they’re teased with the Purple Palace song, sung to the tune of the kiddie song Playmate:
Hey, hey you JCs
Come out and play with us,
We have your purple stuff
That you have missed so much.
Down at the Palace
is where your stuff is stashed,
So come and get it now….
BUT NOT SO FAST!
(Most of the time it’s this fake-out of “But not so fast” where the JC’s anticipate getting their purple back but…psych! It doesn’t happen.)
When the super secret decision makers who decide these kind of things FINALLY consent to give the purple back, the lyrics of the last line change to: IT’S YOURS AT LAST! That’s when the JCs know to run to the Purple Palace for all things purple and glorious.
All the details of the Purple Palace are beyond the scope of this humble (and covetous) reporter. But trust me, purple parading happens. Purple flaunting happens.
Call me a glutton for punishment, but I want to do that! Especially the flaunting!
But I’ve got a few more years of humble camperhood ahead of me before I can join the ranks of the elite JCs…and then one day become a counselor, a head counselor, assistant director, director, and then ruler of the world!
They say there’s a camp
In the meantime I’ll enjoy that amazing feeling when my team finally beats the other on the last day of term (Go Blue!)
And I’ll just enjoy the simple pleasure of spending time there.
Yes, I might sometimes act like one particularly annoying mosquito bite is like being eaten alive in the deep jungle of the Amazon. Or I might limply try to serve a tennis ball when I’m so hot I just want to jump in the river.
And those things might not sound fun. But the truth is it’s all a piece of the whole experience.
When I’m at camp, sure, I complain about something every once in a while (I didn’t bring a warm enough blanket, my towel didn’t dry out, it’s freezing at breakfast!) But things that annoy me just make the fun parts even more fun.
Camp is a haven, protected from the outside world, a little slice of heaven in West Virginia.
By the time May rolls around, me and my camp friends are counting down the days until we get to step on the barge and go back to the place where we belong.
And while I reluctantly admit that a white sands beach, or going to some awesome vacation spot can be fun, I wouldn’t trade anything for three weeks at my favorite place in the world.
Camp Alleghany, here I come!
–Chloë Cook, Camper, Camp Alleghany for Girls