My niece is very excited this weekend and not only because it’s the 4th of July. She does enjoy watching fireworks, having a barbeque with family, and watching musicians sing our nations songs. But the thing she is most excited about is going to summer camp on Lake Roosevelt. On one of her previous camping trips, the camp was dubbed "Camp Dirt." In preparation for going to Camp Dirt, there is a tent, sleeping bag, mosquito repellant, and many other items strewn across the dining room table and almost every other available surface in the house. While the camp leaders thankfully provide a list of items to bring, organization is the responsibility of the camper (and anyone else she can persuade to help with packing).
She’s been talking about the “pinecone game” they play the first day at camp, where the campers are divided into teams that race to see whose team can pick up the most pinecones throughout camp. The game is a clever way of cleaning up pinecones from below bare feet (ouch!), but also gives the campers a chance to get to know each other . . . and to figure out what a pinecone is. Later there’s deciding on sleeping arrangements—“you can sleep in my tent,” “point your head uphill,” “I’m on a rock”–before counselors call "lights out." Many other events fill the next few days at camp: swimming, singing, skits, pranks (of course, what’s a campout without them), crafts, and drying your dishes in a bag.
Camp is concluded as parents return to (reluctantly?) claim campers and associated dirty sleeping bags and clothes. But you can’t depart without gathering near the lake shore on wooden benches to watch the campers act out skits they have been meticulously practicing. After all, no camp is complete without a good skit about chewing gum or an invisible bench.
The ride back from camp and the weeks after are filled with many more stories, stories about friendship, discovery, first this’s and that’s, stepping on pinecones that were missed on Day 1, tree sap, and rocks. Rocks also have a tendency to travel in pockets, which is often not discovered until that first load of laundry hits the dryer (thunk! clunk!). Hooray for Camp Dirt!