First off....how freaking awesome is this sunrise photo?
The shores of Lake Hubert, Minnesota produces a special kind of magic for those of us who know it as the home of Camp Lincoln & Camp Lake Hubert.
This is taken from the camp director's dock.
There are days where I wish I still worked at camp in the summer because I could wake up to this every. single. day.
During my summers at camp I spent my days coated from head to toe in Deep Woods Off and very little sunscreen (we won't talk about that horrific sunburn I got one summer. OUCH). Camp taught me how to start a fire with just one match. I can find my way back to my cabin in the dark without hitting that giant rock at the fork in the road. And I don't care what you say but camp has the best yogurt and granola for breakfast, the best ranch salad dressing on the salad bar, and the best birthday cake around.
For a short stint I worked at camp full time.
And while I love my career in higher education--this was just as amazing.
When I started to draft If You're Ever in Town, I wanted it to be about friendships that began at camp and never wavered--even after all these years. Originally, the plot began with Nate and Charlie going around the world to visit camp friends and spread Gwen's ashes.
But feedback about that plot was lukewarm.
And that's when it hit me.
Why are they going around the world when they should be going right back to where it all started. Right back to camp.
Write what you know, right?
I've got my work cut out for me because while a lot of the work is already done, there are some heavy rewrites taking place. Locations will be changed, events will be tweaked, but the best part? I get to describe camp to everyone.
My friend JoJo wrote this incredible poem quite a few years ago called What I am at Camp. I've taken it and changed some of the wording to fit this post a little better. But reading this before diving into the big edits has helped me refocus a bit on making sure that part of the story--while small--is strong.
Curious aren't you?
Here we go...
All photos are mine unless otherwise noted
It's the long dirt paths that lead from cabin to cabin
From candle wax and colored beads
The big green chairs that enfold you and you stick to them from the sap of the overlooking trees, the lake that glistened and danced when the sun kicked the clouds out of the sky and that could roar and charge when the winds howled
It'a a place of slamming doors and dirty feet
From where the sounds of the halyards hitting the masts is mesmerizing.
Where you are never alone
Where hands pounding on tables could always find a beat—a beat that would grab everyone’s hands to make them join in too.
The quiet mornings that would greet me with only the chirp from the birds and the call from a loon, a place that would be awake by 7:30 and asleep by 9, yet secretly alive with hushed whispers and muffled giggles
The dock—hard wood, is probably the most comfortable bed you'll ever find.
From the boats which let me float across the water, from the canoes that let me glide and the horses that let me fly
It's the children that let me rediscover laughter and joy
From the place that gives me hope and confidence
From tree swings and fish sticks
From sundae cones and bug juice
From where my pitcher is always full
It's a place with smoldering hot days and nights so cold that they mosquitoes don’t buzz
From constant laughter so much my belly hurt
From tears both happy and sad and hugs that would never fail to dry them
I am from the rising smoke and glowing embers
From the chocolate and marshmallows smeared on my face
Where little hands finding mine in the dark guided with the help from the jumping flames light and faces beautiful in the campfire’s glow
Photo credit: Camp Lincoln & Camp Lake Hubert
From piggybacks and skipping down trails
From found energy when I was convinced that I had none left
I am from the chapel where there was no Bible, but where I have never felt closer to God
Photo credit: Camp Lincoln & Camp Lake Hubert
A place where the trees rustling so loudly it seemed like they were sharing secrets, the neighing horses, the hum of the zip line and the smell of the infirmary are always in our memory
Where the rain on the roof makes a song, and where a simple song can make the sound of rain and where a song has the magical ability to bring out the sun
Photo credits: Camp Lincoln & Camp Lake Hubert
It's a place where as a child I learned who I was and who I wanted to be
From where as a grown-up I remembered how to be me
From where I learn the most valuable lessons and where the people I love most are
I am from forever friendships
A place that even when I am no longer there, I know that my heart will always be
And that, friends, is camp.
A place that has it's own smell. It's own vibe. A soundtrack of rad sounds. And when you put that all together--it's magical.
I've said that this process is pushing me out of my comfort zone....and you can't find the magic in your comfort zone. So here's hoping I not only continue to find the magic, but I do the magic of camp justice and create it for all of you.