Thursday, August 25, 2011

Four Square Summer Memories

The list of Things I Love about South Carolina just seems to keep growing.  I love the dirt track races.  I love the Magnolia trees.  I love the phrase “Bless him out” as a euphemism for “Cuss him out”.  There’s more things, but it’s a certain characteristic about this place that I’ve grown to love, right down to my core.

In the summer, it feels like church camp.

It does!  It has felt like summer camp for the past two months, and I expect it to go at least one, if not two, more.  From the time I was 7 until… I don’t know, 15?  16?  I went to church camp every summer.  From 7-12, I was a camper, from 13-16 (15?) I was a teen helper, and then years later I came back as a coordinator of sorts.  So believe me when I say, I know church camp.  And this summer weather down here, well, it feels just like it.

In the morning, when the air is so heavy with humidity and its already 82*, I forget myself for a moment and imagine that I’m coming out of my bunk house and have a big day of swimming and chapel and four square ahead of me.  I think, “Maybe I’ll go swing for a while before breakfast, perhaps catch a game of tether ball before they ring the bell.”

These kids, they're not even playing Four Square.
I could so skool them.
They're playing ABCD-square.

Church camp was some of, if not the absolute, best time of my summers.  Camp meant friends and late nights, giggling and adventure, candy from the Snack Shop and an in-ground swimming pool, which was a big deal in my pool-less existence.  It meant team games and bible study, kickball and a huge bonfire at the end of the week.  It meant river games and water balloon fights, midnight trail hikes and … well, everything good and wonderful.

This summer weather, particularly the mornings, takes me back to a camp called Little Mahoning, in rapid procession, from my first year where I was homesick to the year I was 14 and wanted this other “teen helper” to notice me, even up to the year that one of my best friends and I got to conduct the Cabin Inspections that we had so feared as campers, complete with receiving the bribes of candy and all. [note: I feel bad that entire paragraph was one sentence, but not enough to try and punctuate properly.] 

Summer camp was where I got my first black eye (it wasn’t a fight, it was a shoulder to the eyebrow bone – they called me private shiner), where I committed to learning more about and following Jesus with everything I had, where I had crushes and heartbreak, and where I conquered my fear of the dark and formed lasting friendships.  Those kids I camped with and the adults who cared for us are forever in the fond memories of my childhood, and I still keep in touch with a lot of them. 

Living here, so far (653 miles, exactly) from everything familiar to me, it is no small luxury to be reminded of something so beloved.  Like the face of a family friend during a random layover in a foreign city, it takes me home, even if only for a minute.  I can’t help but think that someday, years from now, there will be a setting, a smell, a moment, that will remind me of my years down here in the South.  I’m going to savor these memories of the past, and also live so that on the day that I get an offer of sweet tea, or see a magnolia blossom, I will remember these times just as fondly.

Feeling a bit nostalgic,


  1. I'm thinking I wish you were 8 and we were, once again, "The Order of the Fork". I hope you get lots of comments on this post. I'd love to hear other's memories of such a precious time. You know they've gone back to Little Mahoning, right? So, while there aren't as many peculiarities now that cabins have been updated and whatnot, it's still camp. And little girls probably still have to leave their sneakers on the porch outside at night so as not to asphyxiate their bunkmates. Love you.

  2. when i first saw this title, i thought you'd joined the social networking site foursquare and were reminiscing about your summer by looking back through the log of where you've been. clearly i'm more of a computer person than a camp person. my only experience with camp was as a counselor. even in my youth, i wasn't much of an outside person, and even if i was, i don't think they have catholic summer camps. definitely not around here. :)

  3. Miss Kay asked about your yesterday. I gave her your web address. I didn't give her instructions on how to comment, but I'm hoping she made it to this post and enjoyed the reminiscing!


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