Thursday, August 7, 2008

Girls Camp

This week Lyndsay is off at Girls Camp. Last year was her first year and she'd only been home from her long stay in AZ for a few days so she was not excited about going. The unknown can be scary, especially when you're the youngster. But now that she knows what to expect, she looked forward to this year with much excitement and enthusiasm. She's got more friends, more confidence, more experience, and this year, her little sister, Caitlin, gets to go too! I've told her tales of my Girls Camp days. I loved Girls Camp more than anything else in my teen years. I went for six years, and would still be going as a leader if I had a car and if Conor was a bit older. But, thinking of her there prompted me to take a jog down memory lane. I got out my journals and read the sordid details of each year, and found some photos too.

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 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.


Hannah said...

I went twice and all I kept hearing from everyone was "Oh you're Jenna's little sister!" I got a bunch of "Josiah's little sister" too. I think those girls had some crushes on Siah.

Me, I'm not a camper. I really don't like being in the outdoors doing "outdoorsy" things. But it was definitely an experience!

I hope Lyns has tons of fun!

Wonder Woman said...

Thanks for this trip down memory lane. So fun to see picks of you as a youngin' at camp!

I'm just like you - LOVED camp. I even went the year after I graduated high school 'cuz I could. Fun times, lasting friendships, testimony strengthened....I REALLY miss it. Ward Camp Director would definately be a dream calling. Or maybe assistant WCD. I think I'd have more fun with that. I'd be there, too, if I had a car and kids were older.

Saint Holiday said...

That so-called poet couldn't possibly be me. I was never that handsome and manly, and I was certainly never that young. You have me mixed up with a real man, like George Clooney or Brad Pitt or that Tom guy you were writing about last week. The picture of Mandy cracks me up. Those were the days for sure. I have repressed them so deep in my psyche, they seem like a movie of someone else's life. Another world; another dimension in the space-time continuum. I don't know what to do with those chapters. You sure were a beautiful young woman. And look at Lori; she's still just as peppy & positive. I love you. Find a picture of the real me.


Lori said...

Hey Jenna! Thanks for the kind words. I'm actually packing to leave for camp next week and I'm so psyched! I'm the level 4 leader this year (first time) and I've planned a really cool overnight backpacking trip. Cute little gifts with inspirational thoughts and poems to go with, etc. You know the drill. I also got each of my girls a matching bandana (tye dye with smiley faces) and a camp journal. (so they can write down their memories of camp) I hope I can help them enjoy camp like you did and I hope to help them build many happy memories. I wish you were here. Aunt Lori

Don said...

Two more years until we get to do the girl's camp thing at our house.

As we will be sending a "very dramatic teen" who makes BFFs in ten minutes, it's good to be forewarned about the crying afterwards.

Although, I imagine she'll just come home with a list of email addresses.

Anonymous said...

Fun looking at all your pictures! I don't have as many great memories at camps. Oh,a few I guess.

family said...

I had no idea you posted this! You are sooo cute for posting about girls camp! ALL my favorite memories of the M-Town ward revolve around camp, you and Lori... at basketball, camp, mutual etc. Boy did we have fun back then! Thanks for that walk down memory lane - thanks for being an avid journal keeper and having those amazing pics! I love this blog thing!