photo by Dandy Denial
During the last few days, camp seems to speed by even faster than it was going before. Soon you have to choose between that workshop that you heard about from your friend or packing your stuff early so it doesn’t get taken to the lost and found.
I blinked open my eyes on day 7 to the soft guitar of wakeup call, and remembered that was the last time this year that I was going to wake up that way. I cried, already a mess before breakfast, but cleaned myself up anyways and headed to the lodge with my loving partner Raven in tow.
The morning at least started slow; adventures with hashbrown sausages once they ran out of regular hashbrowns, regular check-in, morning meeting, and the half-hearted yells of pain when Dandy made some people crouch for the group photo.
Then came our last advisee group; this was the start of things getting emotional. We sat down to say our goodbyes and laughed together while we reviewed this year at camp. The best part of our long advisee was the appreciation circle, where we each received about two minutes of appreciation from the group. I got compliments about my voice, my personality, the way I helped create the feeling of camp, and I felt warmth in my chest spreading all the way to the tips of my fingers.
Once advisee was over, we entered the dining hall to find salad for lunch; today was leftover day, this was to be expected. Dinner was probably going to be the same. As lunch progressed, things just began speeding up. As my partner hauled wood for the last time that week, I packed my bags and sorted our stuff out in our cabin. Then Raven and I took showers in the all-gender bathroom, handing shampoo and conditioner over the barrier while they listed off reasons to be happy to counter the reasons I told them I was sad.
We finished up packing and headed to the dining hall to make a cup of coffee in the french press while we signed our way through the piles of camp directories. Everyone else was packing in a frenzied rush to get their stuff put away before camp cleanup.
At five, the bell rang that signaled the camp-wide cleanup, where we would all leave Latgawa prettier than when we came. I was assigned to cabins, and my crew blew through the cabins quickly, sweeping each of them out, taking items on the floor to lost and found, taking out the trash, and beating the rugs out on the trees. By the time we’d come through, the cabins were spotless.
Finally, I got a moment to sit down with my partner and just talk. Raven and I sat among the trees and wrote down all of our intentions for the year that we’d created at camp. We wrote down small lists; one for each of us individually, and one for us together.
Then came dinner. The kitchen staff had prepared us a feast, a beautiful spread of turkey, mashed potatoes, beans, and more. It was the perfect going away present. Full of good food, we all trudged to our last evening meeting. We sang together for the last time with camp and junior staff, then watched the staff and their antics while they attempted to contact the “ghost of uncle trader joe”.
Finally came the part I had been dreading all day, the closing ceremonies. We held hands and filed into the dining hall for the last time, and listened as each of the culminators gave their speeches, then held each of their hands individually as we all cried to see them move on. We appreciated the staff, and then we rolled around into our hug circle where I sobbed as I got the chance to hug each and every camper that had come to this session. When the ceremony had ended, everyone was still milling around the dining hall while soft music played. I hugged people over and over again so I wouldn’t forget them. I took pictures for a staffer who hadn’t been able to attend this year – to remind them of a specific moment in 2015. By the end of it all I felt warm and loved in the way that only camp could make me feel. Before we headed off for massages and bed, snacks were put on the table, and I ate lukewarm chicken nuggets alongside my best friends as a close to another great year.