Like the life-cycle of a butterfly, camp is a strange metamorphosis. Campers come, young and adorable, feisty and impossible. Some of them send their counselors over to our house to borrow a teddy bear and some of them ring the dinner bell at 3:00am.
And they begin to grow up and inevitably they outgrow camp. But a few of them keep coming back. They come back as dishwashers and C.I.T.’s. They come back as counselors and assistant cooks and paintball ref’s for birthday parties. Then they grow up again and this time their lives require money and so they go off to college and get jobs and outgrow camp in a more permanent way. But once again there are some that return. They return for workretreat and ladies retreat for CamasCon and Zombie Reball Night. And then there are a few who send their own young and adorable, feisty and impossible children up to be campers. And the cycle begins once again.
We have blessed them in some small way and then they return and bless us in ways that are impossible to describe. A strange and beautiful dance this metamorphosis.
There is one camper who has blessed us again and again and again. Most of you do not know her as a camper, but as Sweet Tea our fierce and talented head cook. Sweet Tea is the one who makes camp delicious. She is the one who takes an awkward gaggle of ridiculously green dishwashers every year and turns them into people who know how to work! She is the one who gives us culinary delights such as Camas burgers, chocolate chip mandarin scones, and her signature sweet tea. But yes indeed, Sweet Tea is also a camper.
A good decade before my father officially started the summer camp program, Camas did host the occasional summer camp. Sweet Tea was there that very first summer. They slept in tents in the meadow and there were no showers. So a couple of times a week they rode in vans down to the river in Cashmere for an evening swim that was supposed to be a substitute, but was probably more fun then hygienic. They wrote out Bible verses in alphabet noodles on rounds of wood and decorated them in moss. My dad was there, making up goofy songs about camp to the tune of old beer commercials. “C-A-M-A-S Camas makes the best…meadows!” And they learned to repel off Inspiration Point and the cliff by the rock quarry the old fashioned way, wherein the person holding your life in their hands padded their clothing with handkerchiefs, wrapped the rope around themselves in a weird and complicated manner, and wore leather gloves to prevent rope burn as they lowered you down the face of the precipice.
And there it is, the odd and impossibly lovely life cycle of camp. Thank you Nadine/Sweet Tea, for being the first one to come back.