Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love everything about it: the cooler weather, the sweaters, the leaves, the apple cider. And I especially love fall at camp. Camp becomes less and less green and more and more red, yellow, orange, maroon, brown, and gold. One of the reasons I love camp in the fall so much is that it reminds me of my first time coming to CYO Camp when I was a little girl.
Way back when I was in third grade, I was invited to go to fall camp at Camp Rancho Framasa with one of my best friends. I had never been to an overnight camp before, just day camp at the Girl Scout camp by my house with my Brownie troop. But I loved being outside, and I thought CYO Camp sounded so cool and different. So, my mom loaded up the car with our stuff, and we made the drive down Clay Lick Road for the first time, back when it was still a gravel road. Trees lined the road, just like they do now, and we past the horse pasture and the Canada Game field. We checked in and walked up to our cabin, and both of us immediately claimed a top bunk. I hugged my mom goodbye and once our whole group was together we got to go to dinner.
I don’t know if everyone remembers their first meal at CYO Camp, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. It’s a sensory explosion. Bright colors from the hundreds of people, smells of food coming from the kitchen, and the overwhelming, deafening sound of laughter, talking, singing, and challenging. Back before the “Challenge” sign was used, you had to be ready for challenges the moment you stepped into he OPC. And me, being eight years old and knowing nothing, had to catch on really quick. But the songs were funny and we were never allowed to stand on the benches in the cafeteria, so it felt special and extra adventurous. And plus, the counselors were doing it! These were adults, but they were cool adults, and you could tell they were cool adults because they wore tie dye shirts and had dozens of friendship bracelets on their wrists and sang louder and danced harder than everyone else at their table.
So after dinner, we played the evening game. We got to run through the woods! We charged through the fallen leaves and followed the beams of our flashlights and if no one had sounded the horn we probably would have just kept playing for hours. And that game, that was the start of an absolute whirlwind of fun. Campfires and horses, lanyards and pumpkin carving, hopping and fort building, telling stories and yelling the Great Amen, braiding hair and earning our bead. I had never before been in a place that felt like it was designed specifically for me to have fun.
My best friend’s mom picked us up from camp at the end of the session, and she never had to prompt us with any questions. We talked, we burst out laughing from inside jokes, we showed off our lanyards and our shirts and the new songs we had learned. We had an hour and a half-long car ride to figure out how to tell her why we had such an amazing time, but we just couldn’t quite put our fingers on it. After that, I had to go back to school where we didn’t sing songs on the cafeteria benches, and back to class where we sat a lot and needed to be quiet a lot. It felt like camp was my special secret, like I had gotten to visit this dream land where everything was always fun and everyone got to be silly and laugh until their sides hurt.
And now, years and years later, I still feel that way about camp. I love getting to be just one person in the generations of amazing staff that make camp a magical place. I love watching our campers jump in the leaves and wear their adorable rain boots and laugh and sing as much as their lungs will allow. There is nothing quite like fall in Brown County, and there’s no place that exemplifies fall in Brown County quite like CYO Camp.
Assistant Camp Director
CYO Camp Rancho Framasa
Camp is such an unique experience! Our staff take turns sharing their perspectives of the experience that is CYO Camp Rancho Framasa!
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