Camp Leon

Last weekend, my son departed for church camp...his first time at an overnight camp. Even though his nature can be a little shy at times, I wasn't too panicked for him to go. Since he's an outdoorsy kind of kid, I was sure he'd adjust quickly and then have a great time with the fishing, horseback riding, swimming, and all. The camp is about three hours away and, although it's at a place called Camp Tygart, the week our church is there, it's referred to as "Camp Leon." Father Leon has been one of the most favorite priests in our area for about the last 30 years. My husband attended the camp with Father Leon for years. (In fact, Father Leon's notability in my in-law family includes having taken custody of Eric when he arrested for drinking on the beach during a chuch trip when he was 15.)

So a few people asked me through the week if we'd heard from Stony and the answer was "no." We all agreed that that was probably a good thing because there would probably be no calls unless there was a problem. Then last night the girls and I went up for the family night that was to include a bonfire and skits by the kids. (Eric is on military duty right now.) When we got to the camp, though, Stony was ready to put his bag in the car and leave. I figured the week had been so-so for him and he was ready to go. I was kind of bummed but it definitely could have been worse.

Still, we trekked what I'd guess was 1/4 mile along a path and past the lake to the clearing for the bonfire and skits. Turns out I was ill-prepared. It was already about an hour past the girls' bedtime. I had brought no chairs, no blanket, and no flashlight. There was no bathroom within reasonable walking distance for children. About the only thing I had thought in advance to do was dress the kids warmly. Soon, I was holding my four-year-old (which was killing my back) as she started to get sleepy and my six-year-old was getting tired, too. Two valiant men (Chris and a local doctor from our church) rescued me from bad parent hell by offering up their chairs for us (which I gratefully accepted).

What we did get to see was pretty entertaining as there was a huge bonfire that threw sparks into the air like tiny, glowing snakes that disappeared into the night sky. The older kids (I think counselors) had carried the flame into the camp, appearing straight out of the woods in full tribal ragalia, including cute, plastic "grass" skirts. Each group of kids performed a skit and, if I do say so, Stony's group was very funny and seemed well-practiced with their performance of Camp Leon Idol. Stony was the light man for the performance which I think suited his nature.

Right after Stony's group's skit was over, it was just getting too, too late and, being even more helpative, Chris agreed to lead Stony back to the van so I could take the girls there and wait. Even more, Chris loaned me a tiny, LED light which was the only thing that led us safely along the pitch black path (with a steep drop on one side). Do you remember when I said I wanted to go live in the woods? Fuck that!!!! Turns out I only want to live in the woods during the daytime. The woods at night are scary. Beyond the flashlight's illumination of our path, you could not see a thing. There were noises in the woods and the obvious sounds of movement. Deer? Unusually vicious black bear? No way to all. The girls were terrified and the walk probably took 50% longer because they were clinging to me. My older daughter proclaimed it to be "scary as crap." ("Crap" is her favorite descriptor since about mid-way through Kindergarten. It's not always as a bad thing. She may also refer to a cake as "good as crap.")

After what felt like a really long time, as the girls dozed in the van, tiny orange, white, and blue orbs started floating out of the darkess from the direction of the bonfire. As the campers and parents emerged from the shadows, Chris appeared with my son all safe and sound. Then Stony started recounting for me, in that rushed voice that young boys have, about the things he did at camp. His new friend, Jed, came to tell him goodbye and that he'd see Stony at the pool in Charleston and then they did that hand-grab-type-handshake thing. It was awesome and I was so relieved and happy. As Stony got into the van, he began excitely telling the stories of horseback riding, natural waterslides in the creek, putting salamanders in the girls' bunkhouse, and getting bombarded with water balloons through their bunkhouse windows. He said he wants to come back every year and that he loved camp. Later, in our hotel room, he proclaimed that "today was a good day."

My son was all tan and happy and filled with fun stories for me and his sisters. Despite the late hour and all the complications that came with it, it was, indeed, a very good day.


Deadpan Alley said...

I'm so glad he had a wonderful time!

And I still assert that the woods are no match for my air conditioned home sweet home.

jedijawa said...

Awesome! Glad that I could help out my Scrabble bud! :-)