This is the time of year when Mama registered me for summer camp every year. I have many great memories of those happy-go-lucky days at day camp.
My brother, Steve, and several of his friends were camp counselors at YMCA day camp. Every day, Mama packed a sack lunch for us, Steve rolled his swimming trunks in a towel, I rolled my swimming suit in a towel, and out the door to YMCA day camp we went.
Campers and counselors assembled at the flagpole at the YMCA every morning. When everybody got there, we all climbed on the YMCA bus and rode out to Possum Trot on the Berry College campus. The fun started when we sang songs on the bus, all the way to Possum Trot.
The bus pulled into the clearing, in front of the Possum Trot Church. Everybody got off the bus and gathered in the various groups to which we’d been assigned. We lined up and went into the church.
The Possum Trot Church
Mama and Daddy were Berry alumni and I was well versed in the history of Berry. I knew all about Possum Trot and its significance to Berry, but I’d never been to Possum Trot before. Into the church I walked with my friends. We found a place to sit, on the left side of the aisle in the front row. I read the Bible verses that were painted on the walls in red.
That church was, as Grandma used to say, “eat up with atmosphere.”
There was such a presence in that little country church. It was easy to imagine the children who had gathered there many years ago with their parents. I envisioned barefoot children, clad in overalls, singing “Jesus Loves Me” and listening to Martha Berry read stories from the Bible. I remember thinking those children were probably the age of my day camp friends and me.
At other times, for crafts, we were in the classrooms at Possum Trot, adjacent to the church. I sat in an old ink well desk and looked at the wood burning stove. I wondered what it was like going to school with no electricity. One day we covered a cigar box with wallpaper and attached a bead “handle” to the box. I decorated mine with floral green wallpaper. Now I had something in which I could keep my treasures. Marbles, jacks, Silly Putty, soap bubbles and miniature comic books, All things of value to an 8-year-old.
Every afternoon, while half of the campers were at the rifle range, the rest of us were learning to shoot arrows. They posted targets on huge hay bales. I pulled back on the bow and watched the arrow fly. I didn’t care if I got a bull’s eye, but I always hit the target. I thought shooting arrows was more fun than going to the rifle range.
The Friday night campout was the highlight of the week. We had a campfire, made s’mores and heard some great ghost stories. Every year, the weather was beautiful. I remember getting settled in my sleeping bag. It was a beautiful night. The sky was filled with stars. I listened to the katydids and, before I knew it, I was asleep.
Saturday morning, we had cereal, honeybuns, and hot chocolate. The YMCA bus took us back to the YMCA. Another wonderful day camp was history.
Those carefree summer days, I was busy having fun with my friends at day camp. A very happy kid, I thoroughly enjoyed each day before careening into the next one. I was always in the moment. That is precisely why I have so many distinct memories from childhood ... particularly great times at YMCA day camp.