Monday, June 3, 2013

on getting older

Have you ever had some sort of sensory stimuli trigger a long-forgotten memory? I think this happens to me probably twice per week. My biggest triggers are sounds and smells. More often than not, the memories are tied to two distinct things:
1) camp (seriously, ask Jon how many times I tell him "it smells like camp here!" each week. You will be met with an eye-roll)
2) vacations past (oft my trips to Emerald Isle, NC with my bestie and her family)

Let's talk about #1, shall we? There are 2 types of people in this world: those who never went to camp and those who did. The former will never fully understand the latter. If you spent any significantish amount of time at summer camp growing up (in my case, I think I did 7 or 8 summers as a camper at 2 weeks per summer... except one summer when I spent a month, and then 6 weeks of working there) you know an indescribable sense of camaraderie and magic surrounding late-night campfires singing ridiculous songs and post-taps mess hall candy box raids. Unless, of course, you're my bestie's angsty teenage brother who hated every second of it. But I digress. Don't even get me started on the dodgeball matches. I've always entertained the fantasy of one day returning to camp as a director of sorts so that I can live there forever and get a contact-buzz from appropriately aged campers. Related thought: someone needs to invent summer camp for grown-ups. Either way, my mind returns to Ligonier several times per week and I know it will have a piece of my heart for eternity. Elden is going to camp whether he likes it or not.

Anyway, as I was driving into work the other day I passed a buzzing outdoor light. The sound immediately triggered a memory of laying on my bunk in cabin 2 after taps had been sung and the classical "goodnight, Ligonier" bounded throughout camp's Pennsylvanian hills. In the quiet darkness there was one consistent sound that would lull me to sleep each night: the buzz from the floodlights on the art hall and pavilion, matched only by the subtle blue glow they emanated. As I thought of old camp memories, it struck me: I'm too old for camp.

Not in the sense of returning as a camper, I finally made peace with that realization when I hit 20. Rather, that I am probably too old to ever act as a counselor. The summer staff is usually comprised of late high schoolers (counselors-in-training, or CITs) and then undergrads (counselors/wilderness staff). Sure, someone a bit older could serve as a counselor, but it's uncommon, most probably because as you get older you graduate, get a job that doesn't permit you taking a summer-long vacation, and then there are the obvious familial factors of demanding little humans and needy husbands. But a part of me had always entertained this fantasy of Jon and I returning to camp as counselors for a summer (this was pre-Elden) and Jon loving Ligonier with every ounce as much as I. It slays me to admit that we've officially aged-out, especially with the addition of teeny. Devastating probably most adequately sums up this realization. At 24, I never thought I'd be too old for something, especially something that I look upon so fondly. Is this why people have meltdowns as they approach certain monumental birthdays? Because with each one you realize that things you previously adored are no longer attainable? If that's the case you better believe that my mid-life crisis will involve quitting my job, uprooting my family, and squatting in Ligonier cabins in the off-season and perhaps making a shelter out of the Lord's Stage when camp is in session...


  1. we're having family camp this year! when elden's a little bigger, you can all come together:) and next year is our 100 year anniversary, with much celebrating.

    camp miss you. me too!

    1. FAMILY CAMP!? Oh. my. word. This is happening, as soon as Elden can deal with not sleeping in his crib, I am making it happen! Thanks for the info!