Sunday, July 09, 2006

Summer Camp -- Then and Now

As I get ready to head up to Chautauqua next weekend for what seems like a week of summer music camp for adults, I find myself thinking about my first real adventure with summer camp 40 years ago – Math Camp at FSU. This was one of those experiences that changed my life forever, proving that math and sex are actually quite compatible.

Math Camp was for 30 nerdy kids from all over the country who excelled at math. I wrote 3-cent postcards to all the girls ahead of time, so we arrived quite thick already. I was perhaps the most naive 17-year-old. But I found myself sizing up the boys and picking me out a boyfriend the first night at orientation. Steve was the one that wore so much Jade East that it nearly bowled you over. He was cute and funny and within days we were a couple. We attended 4 classes every day and had tons of homework, but Steve and I were inseparable and seemed to end up necking on park benches every night until they blinked the lights at 5 minutes before dorm closing. Then I would go back and do my homework.

Being in love does wonders for sleep deprivation. But in addition, my friend Lucy’s solution to a wake-up breakfast was a large Coke mixed with orange juice with a Excedrin popped in. This is how I got through our 8 AM geology class every morning without falling asleep amid the discussions of dust bunnies and meandering rivers.

I had the time of my life with Steve even when we weren’t making out on the park benches. We listened to Red Rubber Ball by The Circle until I could sing every word. He taught me to play pool. I have always fallen for guys who were real pool sharks. We were the best of friends.

We learned computer programming – Fortran 2 back then. This in addition to my Cobol class taught by my friend and roommate Marilyn two summers later and the fact that I worked at the FSU Computer Center for 4 years were the credentials that landed me a job after graduation. So there was a practical side to Math Camp, but my memories are more focused on my summer romance with Steve than the math classes I took. What a liberating summer!

Playing chamber music intensively with other adults who love it equally well was also liberating last summer. It showed me the joy of making music together and convinced me that I could perform without my nerves taking control.

Last summer I went to Chautauqua with someone else’s husband. If you’re curious about that just read last summer’s posts (June 20). Bill was just a friend and we actually didn’t spend much time together because I was so busy with music. But this summer my husband is going, so it will probably be a different story. I wonder if we will end up making out on park benches as we stroll around the grounds of this amazingly beautiful place at night? Undoubtedly my summer camp experience will be quite different than it was 40 years ago when I first experienced the freedom of being totally in charge of myself and loving every minute of it.


Blogger Old Lady said...

You are so right. I went to church camps. They were alot of fun. I think 90% of the fun was being independant, away from the folks!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I could write a book on Summer Camps! I went to Church Camp, (Pioneer Camp), when I was 7 and until I was 13 for 2 weeks every summer. I learned how to canoe, swim, do crafts, make campfires, a multitude of songs,and yes, a bit about religion, most of which I've forgotten.
When I became diabetic, that camp would not accept me, so I went to a camp for Diabetics, and I worked there for 7 summers!
Camp is one of my life-altering and life-shaping experiences of all time. I say "Is" because I still am very close to all the friends I made there when I was 17. It took me to my career, teaching!
I owe a lot to camp.

Have a great time at yours with your husband and make sure you spend some "teenage time" making out!! HA!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I hope to read that you did find yourself necking on park benches! It sounds like a great experience. The camp, I mean. Though, making out isn't bad. :)

I was also a summer camp kid. Year after year as a camper before working two summers at a church camp. I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

OL, MOI, Kristin -- I also went to church camp, but never for 6 weeks. The experience I remember from church camp was trying to feel "saved", when I really didn't. That was the summer that most young girls seemed to fall in love with Jesus, but it just wasn't there for me. I especially liked the arts and crafts part of camp, higlighted by making jewelry out of shells.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Another great post! It's never too late to go to summer camp!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I loved crafts as a camper and I made my mom an oval brooch with tiny multi-coloured shells that she still has!!! Then, there was the popsicle stick jewelry box, and the plaster mold fruit plaque of fruit for the kitchen wall!

6:43 PM  

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