By Kate Robertson, National Alumni Board
Emma arrived home for spring break this weekend, and a river of late-March shopping trips flooded my heart. You see, since I was a girl, spring break was “getting ready for camp” week. It started when I was 11. My best friend from Sunday School was a full summer camper. That meant that if camp was in session, she was there.
Oh, how I dreamed of spending my entire summer with Colorado sunshine on my shoulders and a horse beneath my saddle. However, that was not possible on our family’s budget. I was just as happy to join in on the fun of helping my friend get her gear in order. I’d practically move into her bedroom on the first day of the break and not leave until the last Western shirt was purchased and the last name tag had been ironed into the back of her Wranglers.
But first, we’d pull out her black steamer trunk with the brass fittings and leather handle. Opening the lid for the first time was like walking through a forest in spring. The scent of pine sap, crushed sage and corral dust perfumed every square inch of the soft blue paper lining.
We’d get out the packing list and work our way through how many of each item still fit, needed repair or was a candidate for replacement. All week long we had lists. Lists of what needed purchasing, what still needed labeling, and what could be checked off as folded neatly and ready for the final repacking at the end of the school year.
I loved this week. I loved helping her choose the stationary she’d write letters on each day and send from camp. I loved thinking of the people she would see again and what she would tell me about how they had grown, changed, stayed the same. I loved that camp for me was as rich and real as it was for her. The names I read about in her letters and the faces I’d see in deckle-edged photographs were familiar and dear. Adventure Unlimited Chapter activities had made camp as much a part of my summer as if I were going for two months instead of one or two weeks.
Each spring I’d look forward to reading the “welcome to camp” letter that would arrive. It would be filled with suggestions for how to pray, pack and prepare for a summer of healing and adventure.
When spring break was over, a stack of Western shirts, jeans, bandanas, a bathing suit, boots, Sunday School books, stationary, stamps, headlamp, yellow scarf and white shirt were waiting in the corner of her bedroom for their final journey over the Rocky Mountains and through the gate.
Spring break was the beginning of summer camp for us. It still is.