Friday, September 08, 2006

Postcards from Camp

Editors note: Part 3 of Wrapping Up Summer.

Last Spring CrafterKat researched several different overnight camps for Critter to attend. We had signed her up for a variety of day camps last year through the College of Arts and Crafts, the Zoo, and even a Harry Potter acting class. This year she told us she really wanted an overnight experience—it was easier to make friends if you were with them all day and all night. “So what kind of camp experience do you want to try?”

“Anything with horses,” she replied.

And so off she went to three different horse camps. Camp Westwind, located on Oregon’s coast, was a hit and rated a 4 out of 5 in one letter to Grandma. Camp Silver Creek—-which took place at Oregon’s 4H Center outside of Salem and not at all near Silver Creek Falls like we had originally thought—-was spent with horses. All day.

Admittedly I was a bit nervous dropping her off at this very secluded meadow with a dilapidated barn at one end. And the little cabins looked like they had seen more mosquitos than campers.

When we returned to pick up Critter, I handed her the camera so she could take photos of her last week. She snapped a memory of every horse but no campers. “We can go now.”

Critter rating: 3 out of 5

“But did you have fun?”

“Well, yeah, I guess. We went on lots of trail rides. And the last night we got to paint our horses.”

“Paint horses? Why?”

“Because it’s fun.”

Camp Collins was her last camp of the summer, more of a let’s-turn-you-into-a-young-leader-with-strong-moral-values camp than a strict horse camp. We drove past several farms in Clackamas County up to a tree-loving sanctuary where we were met by dozens of eager high school students, all determined to make this the most fabulous camp imaginable for metro city kids. They’d all ask Critter if she was enrolled in the Quester camp; Critter would shrug her shoulders and give an unenthusiastic “dunno” or “yeah” answer.

“You are going to have an Awesome Time,” each would answer with trademark enthusiasm.

After the, shall we say, rustic buildings appointed at Camp Not Silver Creek, we were amazed at the well-developed eating halls, first aid cottage, swimming pool, and camp housing.

Including Hobbit Houses.

Critter’s bunk was located in Treetop Village, part of three girl cabins that were built on stilts and surrounded by evergreens.

When we returned a week later (at our appointed pick up time for campers R through Z!--we said this place was incredible), she stood waiting for us wearing a t-shirt signed by every camper around her. If you squint you can see her standing there in the photo for the Treetop Village above.

With a bit of prompting, she led us away from the other campers and showed us her bunk and some of the sights of the campground. We made our way down a few dirt trails to a suspension bridge with a small fort on the far side. "On the first day we did a Challenge Course and we had to cross through the trees on these little boards on the other side of the bridge. It was so scary--I didn't do it. And there's a rock wall you can climb to reach the fort. I didn't do that either--I'm not stupid!"

We hugged her, gathered her luggage, and asked, “Did you have a good time?”

“I cried last night. I sooo have to come back here next year.”

At this point a blonde in similarly signatured t-shirt piped in, “Now remember, you have to come back next year to Week 8! Promise!” And hugged Critter hard.