Today’s post comes from Clyde of Mankato
I am surprised by how often summer camp appears in movies. As a result I wonder if summer camp is a more common experience than I realize. Of course, here in the Midwest it is tied to church camps. How common is it on the coasts, in the South, on the prairie? I don’t know.
My favorite movie summer camp is very campy indeed, Addams Family Values. What a delight Christina Ricci is as Wednesday. “You sent us to camp. They made us sing.” In one of Ron Howard’s first movies, The Courtship of Eddy’s Father, he plays a boy who is sent to camp, falls in love, and runs away, which covers a few cliches. I suppose we could include Dirty Dancing in that list of movies. I had a few friends at the University of Chicago who had Borscht Belt experiences.
One summer camp is tied into my life, Camp House, near Brimson. In my childhood it was owned by the D.M. & I.R. Railway Employees Association. I was sent there in about fourth or fifth grade. I remember it cost only $12 a week as a result of funding by the railroad. I did not like it. There is a picture of me with my mother on the Sunday visit. I am not going to share that photo. I do not look happy. You see, my mother told me that I was staying for a second week. Somehow half of the $12 was being paid by the railroad or Employees Association. I do not think my mother could turn down a bargain. My sister attended as a camper once or twice.
Oddly, I returned the summer before my senior year to work as an assistant to the maintenance man, my first job. About him and that experience I could tell a few tales. My sister was a counselor during the four weeks of girls camping that summer. It was special to have her there. We were very close back then. We had many late night talks. I was surprised then and am surprised now that my father released me from helping with the haying. I made up for it the next summer when he went to Michigan for work and I did the farm alone.
The winter after I worked there, the Employees Association was disbanded and the camp was sold. It became a Lutheran camp and still is. My children attended it two or three summers and loved it. My daughter has gone family camping there twice with her children. Three generations are thus tied to Camp House. For three years my daughter served on the board that oversees Camp House and other Lutheran camps.
A common sub-genre of movies is about camp counselors, often as gathering a few years later. I have only seen part of one of those movies. It struck no chord with me.
In the header photo, taken about 1955 by my mother, the building farthest the right on the lake is where I slept for ten weeks. Campy Summer Camp, Part II will reference that building.
Did you attend a summer camp, wish you had or wish you had not?