SOME THINGS YOU JUST NEVER FORGET
…AND MAYBE FOR GOOD REASON
And for me, one of those things is going to summer sleep away camp. Of course, the camp season’s over now but for some reason the memories have come flooding back.
When I was ten I went to a camp for eight weeks in Vermont. (I lived in Ohio…) It was called “Camp Farwell” and was run by strong, strict but underneath it all, kind woman named “Mrs. Furlong.”
I came from an extremely close and loving family. My parents loved each other. And my brother, Jay, and I loved them – and each other. And I thought that’s how all families were. (Of course, eight weeks at camp squelched that perception big time but we’ll get to that in a minute…)
Not surprisingly, Farwell was an all-girls camp. In fact, there wasn’t a man in sight – except for “Mr. Furlong” who was rarely seen. (Once I heard him yell at his wife and make her cry which decades later I haven’t forgotten…)
We lived in wooden cabins of four girls each with a “counselor” and slept on wooden cots.
We learned to play just about every sport including tennis, horseback riding, swimming and even “water ballet…” I loved all of it. Especially riding. I fell in love with a horse named, “Pale Face” and wanted to take him home to Cleveland – (and almost talked my parents into it.)
But here’s the thing: I was homesick beyond believe. One of the girls in our cabin said she “hated” her father because he always yelled at her mother. I was horrified. I couldn’t imagine anything so awful. Another, said her mother and father “didn’t live in the same house” because they “couldn’t stand” each other. I was thunderstruck.
I wrote my parents a letter every single day to tell them how much I loved them. On
Sundays our parents were allowed to call us. When I heard a counselor shout out “Blanke!! Your parents are on the phone!” I ran down the steep hill to the camp office as fast as I could. In fast I ran so fast that when I was finally handed the phone I was too out of breath and crying at the wonderful sound of my parents’ voices…to talk.
My mom understood and lovingly did all the talking for me…
And then on Parents’ Weekend I became a star. My father was incredibly handsome. I mean he was a total show-stopper. Plus he was warm and friendly. The counselors totally flipped over him.
They all wanted to be introduced to him! I became a celebrity (for a day.) I’m grinning as I write this… Of course, my mother was so used to it she just stood by and smiled…
So what’s the “good reason” I’ve told you all this? Because I’ve known for a long time how lucky I was – and have tried (and I admit, haven’t always succeeded) not to take it for granted.
In fact, my mission in life is to “pay it forward” by helping people I care about (like you) to realize how good, how powerful and how absolutely necessary to the world they already are...and to live lives that thrill and fulfill them.
And then…to pay it forward. Like you.