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Going to summer camp

Ann Swanson

Going to summer camp was a good experience. My friends went to camp long before I did. Some of them went to Girl Scout camp while others went to Camp in the Woods, a primitive camp where they slept in tents.

My mother did not choose either of these options for my camping experience. I was sent off to a church camp, not our church per se, but a camp run by another church in the area. The camp I attended had cabins for us to sleep in.

Of course, I was the only one from my area to go to this camp. I had a wonderful counselor who made me feel very much at home. She made sure I got to know the other girls in my cabin. I had three roommates. Every afternoon we were supposed to rest or write letters home. Since I lived close by, I did not have letters to write so I just rested. The girls and I shared the candy that we brought from home. I remember having some lemon drops that we spilled during one of the rest times making a lot of noise. It brought adult supervision. We were told to “keep it down!”

I really made new friends that year. I remember a girl from Bolivar, Ohio that I got along with very well. We wrote letters back and forth for about a year. The following year we went to a different session of camp so we did not get a chance to be together.

Would you believe that I have never had a banana split? There was an ice cream parlor in Gowanda, NY that served them in a trough. If you finished it you got a pin that said, “I was a pig at Farner and Parker.” I remember my uncle eating one and getting his pin.

I think there are just too many flavors for me. I like things rather plain. I do not care for the mixing of all of the flavors.

Recently, I found out the banana split was “invented” in Pennsylvania. I am not sure of the circumstances, but I am sure there is a story behind it.

I do remember having a banana boat at summer camp and I was not particularly thrilled with that.

We split the banana down the middle and put chocolate chips and marshmallows in it. It was placed in foil then put into the fire to cook. It created a very sticky snack that was supposed to be our dessert.

Sorry, but I was not a fan. I liked the beef stew we created much better.

We were young enough that we were not allowed to use sharp knives. It was tough to cut the celery, carrots, and potatoes but I toughed it out helping my favorite counselor get the stew together. I was not a quitter like many of the other campers. The stew then cooked over an open fire. It tasted so good after our hike in the woods. I imagine someone stayed behind to watch it since the rest of us hiked.

I loved that year at camp. Every day we did crafts and had a morning and evening worship service. I was lucky enough to have a week filled with the sun so we got to the beach every day. We walked down “Jacob’s ladder” to get to the beach.

In the evening we had campfires. We sang some silly songs, some songs that were pretty, and some that were just fun to sing. That is where I began to harmonize. I could pick up harmony and sing with the rest of them. It was fun. After the fire died down it was back to the cabin and lights out.

Morning vespers were held on top of a cliff that looked out on the lake – that would be Lake Erie. It was a peaceful setting that I really enjoyed. I remember singing “This Is My Father’s World” and marveling at the beauty of the setting. Our evening services were held in different venues. They were nice too.

Our world truly is a spectacular place. It never ceases to amaze me how well the universe fits together. It is man who interferes and upsets the balance.

A couple of years ago I wrote a Hickory Heights about natural methods of working with the environment. It definitely is best if we stick to things that will not harm the environment.

I recently was asked about that column. I published a recipe for Weed-be-Gone. It calls for 1 gallon of vinegar – I use the white variety. 2 c. Epsom salt, and 1/4 cup of Dawn, the blue original. This can be sprayed wherever you need it to get rid of weeds. Sometimes if you use boiling water it, too, gets rid of weeds. It also gets rid of ant colonies if they are in the flower beds. None of these things will harm the environment.

Young people are more in touch with the environment ever. They learn about methods to protect it in school these days. I recall doing what I called “green minutes” with my students. The students were amazed at how little things they did impact the environment. They began to share these things at home. I like to think that I educated a generation about caring for their surroundings. The students looked forward to these green minutes. I read a small clip from a book I purchased and then we discussed it. They were amazed at how a leaking faucet impacted nature. I heard from many parents on this one concept. The parents were looking for solutions after the children pointed out what was going on.

Do not ever think that one person cannot make a difference.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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