Every year when summer arrives, and the smell in the air and the heat of the sun are just right, my mind is transported back in time to the most wonderful years of my childhood-those spent in summer camp in the mountains of upstate New York.
Camp was a wondrous change of pace, a far cry from the pressures of tests and getting good grades in school. Camp was transformative- totally different from regular life at home on Long Island, New York where I grew up with my parents and 2 siblings. Summers away were where I got to try things I haven’t experienced before, participate in exciting adventures, make new and lasting friendships, and sing silly songs.
It was the sound of the bugle waking us up, calling us to line up for the raising of the flag, and morning announcements, of having hot chocolate at breakfast on those early cold mornings then going off to clean your bunk, knowing full well, that what follows is a day promised to be filled with a smorgasbord of activities and new skills waiting to be shared in a nurturing, tranquil environment .
Camp was probably the single most influential experience of my life as a child. Skills that I would carry with me into adulthood were acquired here. Not only the physical skills such as swimming, canoeing, water-skiing, sailing , photography, camping out in the woods, but also the opportunity to learn how to get along with others and work through problems that arise. Living with 8-10 unrelated girls can be quite a challenge-certainly nothing I could do at this point in my adult life.
I was in ecstasy when I learned I would get the opportunity to revisit summer camp this June, not as a camper, but as one who would be sharing my felting skills with young girls who were also willing to experience something new.
So off I drove to Camp Merrie- Woode in the beautiful mountains of Sapphire, North Carolina to teach a group of 10 teenagers how to felt a three dimensional water bottle holder.
My hosts and camp directors, Denise and Jim Dunn were kind enough to allow me to arrive a day early to soak in the camp spirit and familiarize myself with camp routine. They have a lovely guest house for returning former campers whose children now go to Merrie -Woode, teachers of special skills who live there for the summer and guests they regularly bring in to enrich their already great program . Everyone made me feel right at home and very comfortable, hellos and smiles abounded. And would you believe- BUG juice is still served in the dining room. (after 50 years and going strong).
I even got to swim in a cold lake just like old times and hear the screams and sounds of hundreds of happy campers before I got down to the joy of sharing what I love to do which is felting.
I must say I was somewhat nervous about teaching this class, as I have not taught this particular project before, never had more than 8 in a group, was in a new environment without easy access to hot water and no one in the class had felted before , plus we had only 2 and a half hours to complete our mission. But I was game to try- keeping true to the spirit of Camp .
I broke the project into small steps that I demonstrated as we went along , eventually everyone found their own pace and found their own way of laying the wool. It NEVER ceases to amaze me how differently we all work and yet all the projects came out wonderfully and each project was unique to the maker.
The girls all said they really loved the experience had fun and got to learn something new.
I am so grateful that I got to revisit summer camp and join the long list of teachers and counselors that are privileged to instruct children in such wonderful nurturing environment .
Many thanks again to all the welcoming and helpful staff and to the directors Jim and Denise Dunn of Camp Merrie-Wood.
See you all next month for another exciting felting project