Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Camp Life.

These long strips of wooden benches remind me of summer camp in Alabama.

Riverview Camp for Girls.
Camp McDowell.
I was quite the camper.

The Troopers at Skyline met on the basketball court just beside the Dining Hall.
Our club color was green.

Green like the shady, soft grass near the gym, where the boys were dropped off in a yellow school bus for our camp dance.
So much cologne.
Spiky gelled hair.
Pre-teen sweat.
I just tried not to get stuck in the middle of the gym: Every smart girl knew to hang the perimeter.

Our club color was green, like the sun-kissed patch of grass just below the zipline.
The zipline that I almost didn’t go off of at age 7.
My legs dangled off the sturdy wooden platform like wet ropes in the water. 
My belly was bottomless.
My head spun wildly.
I was so scared I couldn’t think. 
But after some very kind and patient coaching from someone up there in that tall tree, I finally inched my way off the ledge, like a baby bird leaving her safe, warm nest for the first time.
And when I climbed down the ladder after the zipline ran its course, my heart still racing, I remember feeling proud of myself, that I could do something hard like that.

I liked to watch the older girls at camp, wanting to be just like them when I grew up.
They wore overalls, no makeup, and high ponytails.
Their voices were hoarse by the end of the week from all the camp cheers.
Veins bulging out of their necks with every word they yelled.
Hands clapping fiercely like there’s no tomorrow.
I learned the first day of camp that the louder you yelled, the more respectable you were.
Cheers were to be taken very seriously at camp, and to shout in reckless abandon meant you were a warrior for your club, your tribe, your people.

Somehow I still feel like that little girl.
Just watching the big girls yell with passion and courage.
They do it so well, so effortlessly, like warriors.
And I still want to be just like them when I grow up.

The camp life has its sneaky little way of revealing hidden truths.
Like, You don’t have to wear makeup to be seen.
Or, You don’t have to be quiet and timid as a female- You can actually be a warrior for your tribe, proud and fearless.
The camp life tells you that you can inch your way off ziplines and say no to sweaty boys who don’t know what they want.

At camp, I felt strong.
I felt free, alive and worthy.
And that little girl is always in me, telling me to go for it- that maybe I will climb down the ladder after all this is over and say,

I’m proud of myself, that I can do something hard like that.

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