Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Camp Barton . . .

When I was in high school, I was a Boy Scout. Stop smiling, it gets funnier. I was really, really in to Boy Scouts. Stop giggling, it gets better. In the interest of full disclosure, I am actually an Eagle Scout. Stop laughing. Yes. Me. Mr. Cynic himself was once a card carrying, badge wearing, oath and law spouting Boy Scout.

While I'm not a huge fan of the politics of the Boy Scouts and, as an act of political defiance, I have since officially "returned" my Eagle Scout status and asked to be excluded from the ranks of the "proud" (I was a young, ambitious, egotistical, liberal in Washington, DC - cut me some slack) - I must say that there is one thing about the Boy Scouts that I really do geniunely miss.

Boy Scout Camp. That's right. I miss it. I said it and I stand by it. I used to not only attend Boy Scout Camp for two glorious summers I was the Handicraft Director (thank you very much) at Camp Barton on the shores of mighty Cayuga Lake. Yeah. Yuk it up. I taught basketry and woodcarving and leatherwork and metalwork for six weeks a summer to brand new Boy Scouts who were not old enough to use the rifle range or brave enough to earn the swimming badges and to the older scouts who just needed some quick badges to get their next rank bump or palm.

I tell you this because, as the summer gets hot, I am reminded of my days at Camp Barton. Being the morbidly obese kid on staff. Being the kid that wore (and by wore I mean stretched 'til the seams almost popped) the 2XL staff t-shirts and the plus sized scout shorts. I remember having friends like Jess and Darcy and Debby come out to visit and late night visits from my father and I can remember care packages from my mother and carpooling with kids who lived in Dryden and friends I made there like Mike Amante (who later dated Darcy and Debby, by coincidence).

I LOVED camp. I learned how to fire a rifle at camp. I swam and swam and swam. I took canoes out in the middle of the night. I snuck off camp to see Jurassic Park. I climbed the tower under the cover of night. I attended dozens and dozens of campfires and was in more skits than I can even remember.

Summer camp was, before this summer, the LAST memories I have of actually enjoying the summer and summer heat. I certainly didn't enjoy the heat as much when I bartended as a college kid or the summer I worked the overnight shift in a factory. I didn't enjoy summers in DC at ALL and our two summers in Connecticut were largely spent here in Kansas (oddly enough). I don't know why the heat didn't bother me more than it did (we slept in tin sided/roofed shacks with only fans and breezes to cool us) and I don't know why I didn't feel more limited by my body (admittedly I was pretty physically active in high school despite my weight).

It wasn't ALL fun and games at camp. Sure there were parts that I hated (like having to take always-cold showers in the off-hours when the campers were not using the shower house) but, by and large, it was a gooood time.

As I start to enjoy summer again though - I miss camp. I miss camping. I miss boating and hiking and running and sleeping in the lean-tos and under the stars. I miss Camp Barton.

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