His head on my thigh, mine on her torso, another on my stomach. Their warmth radiated and we all shared the heat. There was about twenty of us; all under the stars, packed together on a concrete slab outside of Cabin C. The vast sky had a tinge of indigo scattered through it, signaling dawn was on the horizon. We all laid there, staring up at the speckled sky, our eyes graced with an occasional shooting star that left us all in awe. No matter how many we saw that summer (probably over fifty) we were still enchanted and amazed by the beauty the night sky held.
That summer had only lasted eight weeks, but it was enough to alter my life forever. It was filled with children’s laughter, ticks, swimming on some of the coldest days, wet shoes, complaining children, bucking horses, tears, unfamiliar beetles, riddles, dressing up, many Canada games, Ranchfests, new friendships, and memories that we all will draw upon years from now. Camp Rancho Framasa, settled in the foothills of Brown County, will always have a hold on us and be the reason we have such a link to each other.
We had spent many nights outside while the kids were fast asleep in their bunks. Conversations lasted until four in the morning even though we all knew we would have to be up in less than four hours. We didn’t care. Spending nights outside, listening to the frogs whose freedom was theirs as soon as the sun went down. They no longer had to fear the stomping feet of campers trucking through their terrain. What mattered was that we were together. A community had formed right before our eyes and we did not even realize it. In a way, we were our own group. A group of kids that didn’t know each other going into these two months of heat.
A group just like I had been in many years ago when I was a camper. But instead of two months, I only had one week to make friendships. Going in alone, knowing no one, that one week of the summer would always be my favorite of those scorching months. I remember meeting new people that always seemed more interesting than myself. I remember playing Gold Rush, sprinting through the forest and avoiding roots at every turn. Those scraped knees never prevented me from making memories that I would hold in the back of my mind. The smell of the trees remained the same and making lanyards never seemed dull. It was simply camp magic.
There was no other way to describe the feeling in my stomach every time my parents took the turn down Clay Lick Road. The songs, the prayers, the people. All of it flooded back in an instant.
I never would have thought as a nineteen year old that I would have such an awakening experience. Connecting old memories with new, under a night sky that should have seemed familiar. Now, it had a new meaning. Stargazing would forever be linked to the many people who had come into my life in a time I so desperately needed it. I was looking for a reason why I was placed on this Earth and those people, those kids, gave me that muse. Things change, plants grow, people learn. All of this was true. Though camp was almost unchanging, eternal.
And as I lay there with the weight of his head on my thigh, comfort surrounded me. No feeling of loneliness crept into my bones. My focus on his laugh, the movement of her stomach on the back of my head as she breathed, the stray arm draped across my knee. We were close, we were bonded; connected by the stars that burned so many miles away. The summer had only been eight weeks, but it had felt like a lifetime.
Summer Staff Member, 2019
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