Camp

When I was a girl scout, we went camping periodically.

One year, on the weekend of our camping trip, the temperature was around 40F.

Even though we were cold, we refused to cut the trip short.

There was a dog at the camp that we played with in our spare time.

The dog was deaf. Blind. Crippled.

It was living a miserable life.

And it died a miserable death, thanks to the smoldering ashes left by my girl scout troop.

In an effort to find warmth the dog lay in the fire. When it got too warm, it found that it couldn't get up.

The next morning, our troop leader broke the news to us, around the firepit death trap, making her best attempt to stiffle her laughter.

"Girls, the dog died."

"Who wants hot dogs for breakfast?!"

My troop leader was a sick woman.

I went on a cancer survivors camp. Dear christ we were a messed up bunch. But it was still fun.

I went to the same summer camp for ten consecutive summers, first as a camper then as a staff member. I lived this separate life with separate friends, interests, and personality features. I never really told my friends from real life much about my camp life or vice versa.

It's almost like we, the camp goers, had this unspoken agreement that when we were there at camp, real life was on pause. In retrospect that's why it was always tear-jerkingly sad to leave.

That place gave me a connection to people and nature I've never been able to find anywhere else.

To this day, at the beginning of summer when you can just smell the outdoors, I step back into that other existence briefly and fleetingly.

Each time I remember, it's like I've lost something I can never have again. It's heartbreaking. What if my camp-self was who I was supposed to be?