4 days 'till CAMP: Read this if you're a Bryn Mawr girl.
(Disclaimer: If you were not an alumna of Lake Bryn Mawr Camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, there's a high likelihood that this article will have zero significance to you. Please click here to check out some of my other posts and lighten up your day! xoxo) Today is June 23rd, and for most of us, myself included, it feels like just another day in June.
But a long, long time ago (okay, only 10 years, but that's a good chunk of my life so far...) June 23rd meant one of two things:
One: I was AT camp, or two: I was sitting in my camp clothes looking at my watch and counting the hours until camp was going to start (and yes, it didn't matter if there were some 92 hours, I was still sitting and counting.)
Many of my school friends went to camp when I was a kid, but when it came to being a Bryn Mawr girl, I would insist that no one who went to any other camp truly understood the meaning of my summer-after-summer experience. Bryn Mawr campers "lived ten months for two" (and we assumed the staff did too, although now I find myself wondering how they really went two months with only one local bar - "The Wayne Hotel" - and hardly any communication technology to speak of?!) The second I got home from camp each summer, I was immediately tucked away in my room on "conference" with my three camp BFFs, and we stayed that way until the day before camp started the next summer. There was a countdown on the Bryn Mawr website and it would begin at hundreds of days before day 1. We would watch it constantly, hoping that by staring at it a little longer it might somehow skip a few weeks. When it went from three digits down to two, I would get excited the way some women get excited when they're about to walk down the aisle: palms sweating, heart racing, barely able to control myself over the thought that camp was now only a double-digit number of days away. Double digits were the home-free zone. Camp was finally just around the corner.
We used disposable cameras "back in my day" and my parents always knew that the first stop on the way home from camp (after shopping for clothes to replace all of the ones I inevitably ruined via mildew by packing them while still wet) was the one-hour-photo. I would have anywhere up to 20 disposable cameras that needed to be developed IMMEDIATELY for fear of a nervous breakdown ensuing otherwise. The second I got my photos back, I began plastering them around my bedroom on what must have been a 300+ photo-filled shrine of my camp days. Sticky-tack covered the walls of my camp-cave and even blurry photos that would make no sense to an outsider made the cut. Any captured moment from my time in camp could be found on "the wall."
No matter how "amazing" anyone's life during the school year was (and "amazing" is a word we loved to use at least three times per sentence), we all had the same insatiable longing for summer to return. After our summers as campers were over, pieces of Bryn Mawr forever lingered in my heart (the smell of Tres Semme "scrunching" hair mouse brings me back every time.) There are words I still use in my everyday lexicon- "amazing", "beyond", "incredible" (and for a while there, "rude") and I can't listen to a Billy Joel song without thinking about the one place where Billy Joel is still so cool he may as well still be on pop radio (okay, newer campers - someone please tell me Billy Joel is still #1 at Bryn Mawr. Lie to me, if you must.)
I still remember everything about those two months I spent the whole year waiting for, and how the summers at Bryn Mawr changed me in ways I still can't comprehend. A six-year camper, I spent a total of one year of my life there, but still my time really "there" felt so much longer.
So I was pretty excited when the girl once too young even for Manor House (the youngest bunk at camp), Eliza Kagan, who I used to see riding her training-wheel bike down cabin row, asked me to take a photo of myself with the number "4" to help all the excited campers count down via Facebook to another summer they will never forget. It brought me right back to those moments of watching the countdown, stuffing my luggage full of hidden candy (Dan and Jane, I'm joking, obviously...) and waiting to scream my tail off as I ran frantically across Main Campus to see my camp friends the second my bus pulled in. I would run and run for hours to see all of what I'd spent ten months missing to my very core. I ran everywhere and that whole first day, except when it was time for dinner. Come dinner time, I knew I couldn't run anymore. As any Bryn Mawr girl knows:
"We WALK in the dining rooooooom."