Life at The Pines

By Kirsten F. 

“We call it fun, but you may call it madness”

Via Google 

Via Google 

started going to sleepover summer camp at age 6, I was a tiny little girl with box braids and her pooh bear under her arm. Walking hand in hand with her aunt to the covered tent that she would sleep in that week. I didn’t know then that going away every summer was going to become my favorite childhood memory. I went to summer camp every year after that, two or three weeks at a time I’d be living it up in the wilderness.  Singing songs about how tan Tarzan was, and how yodeling from a mountain top was a go to tune. Doing dance moves to the “Princess Pat” and running around lunch tables because you had bad manners.  I grew to love those tents as my own home, the dirt paths and milk machine that had a chocolate option.  There was the time where I thought there was a snake in my bed, but it was really my braid that came out.  The first time I canoed I was terrified, but the following summer I was laid out on a paddle boat floating and laughing the afternoon away. My summer at Camp Pine Valley was the best, I met lifelong friends and I was such a regular  that when I became a counselor one of my camp photos was hanging up in the office. 

I was nervous applying to be a counselor, even though I had done it before for another organization, it was something about The Girl Scouts that made me nervous. I had been a part of this organization what felt like my whole life. I was also going through a very emotional time back then. I had never had a job before and to be honest mentally I was a mess, but God knew I needed a push and that’s what was presented to me. So I went to the interview and found out it was a group interview, so I put on my fake brave face and crushed it.  I got offered the job at my home camp good ole’ Pine Valley. I packed up my things and headed towards the woods, driving down that dirt road brought back so many memories. It felt like I was that 6 year old girl again, excited for what was to come. I stepped out of my mothers car and instantly knew how to get all over that camp, it was as if I never left. I was ready for training week, and had previously spent the week at the ropes course getting trained.  I was excited to meet my fellow counselors and form a family. Which did happen and I still wish them all well. 

“I grew to love those tents as my own home, the dirt paths and milk machine that had a chocolate option.” 

That summer for me was transforming for one reason, it made me grow up.  I learned that crying about things isn’t going to change them . I learned that I in fact do not know everything, and that I need to check myself every once in awhile. I also learned that I was quit the chatty Cathy and should learn when to shut up. That experience as a counselor didn’t end with great times, but it ended with a great lesson. That summer also taught me that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still change a life. Those girls became my family, some like little sisters in a way, and they definitely influenced me to be a better version of myself. I spent that summer doing crafts, painting nails (and feet which I seriously despised), I learned how to make a mean S’maco and build a fire with the best of them.  I played games like big booty, and my pony, I cried at the end of camp fires, and sang barges while our candles floated across the lake. It was moments like those starry nights that reminded me why I loved camp so much as a kid. Because of the traditions, and how it always smelt like sunscreen and bug spray in the dining hall. How you never knew what kind of animal you’d meet on the trails, or how many times your hands would be bright pink from tye-dying T-shirts.  

The summers spent at The Pines are forever etched into my memories, those silly songs still find their way out of my mouth while I wash dishes, the friends made there are always on my mind, and the counselor’s who helped change my life, taught me how to do the same. I may not have been the super counselor that I was in my head, but I know for sure that the terrified 19 year old was no longer around at the end. 

“And when we are gone you’ll be singing our song.”