Overly confident me, 1987
Back in my day, all the Yearlings (first year girls) had to pass some kind of initiation, primarily meant to humiliate us all in good fun, and to make us easy targets. In my year, we all had to wear pacifiers around our necks. All day, every day, and don't get caught without it! If you were caught without it, then you had to go to the front of the mess hall during dinner hour and do something else baby-ish, which escapes me right now (I don't think I ever lost mine)--wear a diaper and pin on your shirt or something and clean the mess hall, or sing some embarrassing song? I don't remember. Jenn will when she reads this, I'm sure, or my Aunt Lori. But we loved our pacifiers! We even sucked on them and got quite attached! I still have mine in a little box of camp treasures.
Baby Yearling with pacifier
Another fun initiation that my Aunt Lori did was "Mr. Moose". (I read in my journal that she was later told to abandon all initiations as they were against Church policy, but I don't think any real harm was done.) Anyway, the first year girls were blindfolded and seated on a bench in the mess hall, and then Mr. Moose came staggering in. He would stand and face the blindfolded person, and quiz them.
"Point to my left antler."
"Point to my right leg."
"Point to my right ear."
"Point to my tail." (and at this point, a jar of peanut butter was put in front of the poor Yearling, who jammed her finger right into it, pointing at the tail. Gross. But effective.)
I loved that my Aunt Lori came to Camp as our leader. I'm pretty sure she was there with me all six years. She may still be going, for all I know. But she made Camp so much fun and so happy. She wouldn't let us sit around and complain or be negative. She believed in singing. Singing louder. Singing more. She'd take us around to sing to the other cabins at nighttime, and she'd teach us harmony parts and rounds around the campfires. If I get to be a camp leader, I will do it the way that Aunt Lori did. I love that she is a part of my favorite memories.
Monster Mash skit, 1986
I made great friends at camp, grew closer to the girls in my ward, and met new friends from other wards in the Stake. I had this habit of becoming instant best friends with someone new and then almost suffering a broken heart when it was time to leave camp and go home. I just grew so attached to some of them, and always longed for an older sister, that they seemed to fill that emptiness in me. I remember growing especially fond of an older girl named Gail Behler. I wrote pages and pages about how dear she was to me. I loved that even though she was several years older than I was, she never treated me like a squirt. I mattered. She saw me. It made a huge difference in my life. It was a neat surprise that my second year she was also my Secret Sister (the name we drew and secretly gave small gifts to throughout camp, and then revealed our identities the last night of camp.) When I came home that year, and the next year from camp, it was Gail that I missed so much. I would sit in my room and cry and cry. (I was a very dramatic teen.) In reading back on all these memories, I decided to try and find her, and did on Classmates.com. I emailed her, and am hoping she remembers me and emails back. I'd love to chat with her again.
Me and Jenn, 1990
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Jenn, was there with me every single year too. We were inseparable at Camp. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing, as we worked through our teen years, but I wouldn't have it any other way. She was my partner in crime, always a good sport, and always ready for adventure, and she was always content to tag along and let me shine (or be bossy, whichever way you look at it). She was with me when we paddled out into the lake and deflated Miriam's raft. She was with me when we got lost on our hike and we were miserable and hot and sweaty and irritated with mosquitoes. And she can still remember the words to every single camp song and can still sing them in harmony with me.
Our ward at Camp, 1990. That's Tara in the Groucho Marx glasses
Oh, we had the usual cat fights amongst the girls. We had practical jokes--some that went way too far--all night talking sessions, cold showers, bugs and more bugs, injuries and accidents, hurt feelings, laughing fits, tearful testimony meetings, skit nights, crafts, and hiking misadventures. We cooked our own food over campfires, and figured out boating by ourselves. I loved it all. I loved it when Tara came, two years after Jenn and I started. Tara is so much fun! I'm still in touch with her too, and I'm sure we could get together and laugh for hours about camp memories.
Me with Beverly Carter
Another leader that I admired was Bev Carter. She was our YW leader in Church and came to camp for several years. I wrote in my journal that she didn't much care for the dirt and bugs--she was a little softer than my Aunt Lori--but she was so much fun. I looked up to her in many ways, and watched her closely. She and I are still friends to this day, now as mothers and wives. Her example was pivotal to me as I shaped my own family. I just adored her then, and still do.
Laura Hoppe and my sister, Amanda
My last year of Camp was special to me because my sister, Amanda, got to come as a Yearling. I just knew I couldn't miss the chance to go to Camp with her. She wasn't yet a great camper, but she was funny, and she put up with me. My dad came to Camp that year also, just for a day, as the Representative Priesthood Holder, or whatever. I wrote in my journal that he sat at a picnic table and just wrote poetry the whole time and we brought him food. Sounds like Dad.
Dad the poet
Oh, my gosh, those days were so fun. I am so grateful that my Lyns is up there having a blast too. I'm quite confident that the memories she is making will last a lifetime for her as well. I can't wait to hear all about it when she gets home tomorrow.