Given the many traditions at Camp Alleghany, there must be a name for women like me. But how would I know, since I didn’t go to Camp Alleghany?
That’s precisely my point. I didn’t go to Camp Alleghany but I’ve wanted to ever since I was about twelve years old.
I remember finding my mom’s Camp Alleghany yearbook in the bottom drawer of a storage dresser where she kept books, papers and other memorabilia. I can remember to this day asking her about it and her telling me with great fondness the memories she had of the camp.
Quickly I adopted the yearbook as “my own” and began pouring over its every page. There were group and candid shots, girls crisply dressed in their summer whites with little neckerchiefs, and all the touchstones one thinks about when imagining a traditional girls camp—a flag pole, taps, a circle gathering, dramatic theatricals with imaginative costuming and draped scenery, canoes, the banks of a rolling river, a canteen, the tents…
Rendered as it was entirely in black and white, the yearbook reeked of nostalgia for a place I had never been. I remember begging my mom to send me but it never quite worked out for one reason or another—usually a conflict with other family travel plans.
Imagine my surprise then when I met Elizabeth Shreckhise living in my same town and even going to the same church as me. One day I casually asked her what she did and she mentioned her school counseling but said something along the lines of, “But my first love is my family’s camp. Camp Alleghany.”
Wha, wha, wha, what?
My eyes popped out of my head and I gushed forth with the tale I told above of my mom’s yearbooks and my childhood yearning for Alleghany. Convenient then that I had two daughters the perfect ages for attending. Both of my girls, Anwyn and Chloë Cook, attended last year, and Chloë returned for her second summer this year while Anwyn worked full time as a Junior Chef at a local gourmet restaurant.
But not me
But where does that leave me, I ask you?
I figure I’m part of the Leap Froggers, my made-up name for that sad generation of would-have-been campers whose mothers or grandmothers or aunts went to Alleghany, and whose daughters are proud ‘Ghany Girls, but who themselves have never felt the wonders of a morning along the Greenbrier River, the many mysterious initiations and the goofy and reverential songs.
Yes, I’m jealous! But in a good way…
One of my mom’s last experiences was stopping by Camp Alleghany one summer about 15 years ago. She was brought across the barge, shown around, located her name in the historic records, and given some lunch. She recalled with such fondness how nicely she was treated on that visit to her old stomping grounds.
My mom unexpectedly died in 2001, so she never got to see that Anwyn and Chloë leap-frogged over me and went to Alleghany. But I know she would have been thrilled for those Two Blues. She would have come for visiting day and sent little (food-free) care packages with goofball campish stuff to share.
As for me, I hang on to hope. One day, I think…Family Camp!
–Lindsay Curren, A Leap-Frog Generation Non-Camper Parent