Work Wednesday—Camping!


I did not work this weekend. It was kind of nice, but of course, I won’t be working this upcoming weekend either—more on that next Wednesday—at least, not the farm kind of work.

Now that I’ve totally overused the word “work,” let’s move on to the fun part:

Camping!

Every year for the past eight years, since I moved back to STL and discovered this event, I’ve been going to Girl Scout camp staff reunion. We picnicked in a local park for a few years, but you really can’t separate Girl Scouts and camping so four years ago, we booked a site at a county park.

There’s a lodge at the top of a hill with an attached pavilion, and even further up that hill—feels like a mile but is really just about 30 feet, straight up—is the firepit. Some of our members sleep in the lodge, but a few of us still go the hammock or tent route.

The first year, my friend and I pitched the tent up near the lodge. On level ground, she said. Ha. Right. We spent the entire night praying that the air mattress wouldn’t slide through the tent flap, and us with is, all the way down the hill.

The second year, we camped across from the showers and parking lot at a picnic site; that’s when I decided that it was just too much gear to haul for one night, so since then we’ve reserved the group site and gone out a day early.

We have a blast every year—it’s such a mix of people. There are staff members from the 70s (60s?) on up to the 90s; the “kids,” you know . . . Any given year, there are folks who were my counselors and those with whom I worked.

But let me tell you about this year . . .

I arrived around 1:00 or so on Friday and unloaded the truck. I noticed that the parking lot up by the showers was full of trucks and campers and generators and wondered what the heck was going on. There were only five of us that night, and we crashed pretty early, around 11:00.

The moon was bright.

The movie lights were brighter.

The screams echoed.

A film company was making a horror movie.

I kid you not. What a great premise for a new book . . .

About 3:30 in the morning, someone—no names, just like in REDUCED—hollered something along the lines of “This is a campground, not F*CKING HOLLYWOOD!”

We didn’t hear any more screams that night.

So we slogged around Saturday morning, with severe aftereffects of sleep deprivation, and then ran into town to meet another of our gang for lunch. Later that afternoon, sitting around the fire, three people trailed through our campsite, from the road, slightly up the hill, and back down, winding around our tents.

What. The. Hell.

That’s a huge no-no for camping—you don’t just wander through a campsite. Idiots. We were all pretty annoyed at this point and started plotting some serious revenge . . .

In fact, a few phone calls were made and we even talked to a ranger.

About 9:00 p.m. or so, the assistant producer arrived at the lodge. He apologized for the late-night filming and said they’d be waaaay over the hill that night and wouldn’t bother us.

Uh huh. Right.

We could see it all, sitting around our after-party fire and looking up behind our campsite.

While we listened to accordion music.

No, really. At least it was OUR accordion music. The movie people were very, very quiet. Until about 2:00 a.m. Someone should really explain to them that just because the action in a movie takes place in the wee hours of the morning, it doesn’t mean it has to be filmed at the time. Dark is dark, you know?

Then the driving started. Back and forth, very fast, lots of headlights and engine noises. Not exactly great for camping, amiright?

Well, I stayed up too late anyway, as usual, and let me tell you—Sunday morning brought a few, um, symptoms that no, I’m not referring to as a hangover . . . draw your own conclusions there.

Oh, I’d do it all over again, and I will, come next September. Hopefully without the movie people, though. That would be best. For them.

But in spite of the film people, this reunion was one for the record books:

I’d seen someone earlier, hanging out and all, talking to a few people, but I didn’t know her. Finally, just as she said her goodbyes, I asked a friend who she was.

Turns out she was my very first camp counselor. 1972.

We’d even become Facebook friends a couple years ago, when I realized who she was online, but I just didn’t recognize her. Holy smoke. She’d saved my life when I was eight years old.

True story:

My first year at camp was in 1972. I went for a week, and the unit I stayed in was built onto the side of a hill. To get to our kitchen shelter and campfire circle in the meadow, we had to walk through a low water crossing at the creek.

We’d just gone through it and were coming up on the other side when I was shoved out of the way by my counselor. After she killed the copperhead and burned it, I knew why . . .

They built a footbridge the following year.

So yes, after 43 years, I met her again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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