You’re in for it now, folks! Reminiscing about my summer camp years, yesterday, has opened the floodgates. It’s unleashed a treasure trove of memories. So I’m sorry. It looks like you’re going to have to put up with more stories today.
Kinni Kinnic really was a fabulous camp. The setting alone was worth going for. Think of the Von Trapp family (Sound of Music). The rolling hills of Vermont. Lush. Green. Huge, old trees. Totally unspoiled. Unpolluted lakes. Still. Quiet. Tranquil.
Red-roofed barns. Clapboard homes with lopsided porches and flagpoles, and flags proudly flying, faded from all the years of sun and rain and snow. Bake sales. Lemonade stands. Home made ice cream. Cows and horses and sheep grazing everywhere. Yapping dogs. Birds. Butterflies. Buttercups. Flowers. Fruit trees. Picnics. BBQs. Bliss.
Picture postcard perfect.
A friend commented on yesterday’s post, that it sounded like the camp owners really knew what they were doing. They did. Campers couldn’t graduate to becoming counsellors. The counsellors were all college and university grads. Teachers of some sort. Art, phys ed, you name it.
It’s hard to think of an activity or a sport we didn’t have. Golf, horseback riding, volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, archery, track and field, badminton, ping pong, swimming, diving, canoeing, rowing, waterskiing, sailing, painting, pottery, singing, dancing and on it goes. We even made lanyards and earrings and brooches and bracelets and anklets. Oh yes, and ashtrays and boxes made out of popsicle sticks. Which we dutifully sent home to our parents, as gifts. Which they proudly displayed, despite the fact they were butt ugly and misshapen and virtually useless.
Tennis was a huge deal. Herbert, the owner’s son, was a crack player. We had ten, tournament-worthy, red clay courts. In fact, the Vermont State Tennis Championships were held at Kinni Kinnic every summer. We got to watch, which was great.
Every year we put on what we called “The Big Play”. It really was a big deal. We worked on it most of the summer. It was always a Broadway musical and everyone involved took it very, very seriously. With good reason. Broadway and off-Broadway talent scouts used to show up; and one year, one girl got to audition for West Side Story; and got a part. Not a starring role, but still.
Me? I was never into acting. I always wanted to work on the sets, which I did. That I just loved.
We were busy from early morning (reveille was at 6:30 a.m.) until bedtime, around 9:00 p.m. We stopped only for meals and a rest period after lunch, when we were supposed to write letters home. Trust me, they kept track. If you didn’t hand a letter to your counsellor every day, they sat there and watched you write one.
After dinner there was another hour of leisure, when we could essentially do what we wanted, as long as it included a ball or a bat or a racket. And then there’d be an hour or two of social stuff. Once a week they showed movies (the projector always broke down at least twice), or we put on skits. When it rained at night we’d go swimming in the lake. And then, finally, to bed.
My best summer was my last. I tore the cartilage in my knee right at the beginning of the summer. Like a week in.
I know. Now you’re thinking I am truly insane. Who would be happy about a torn cartilage? Well, give me a minute and you’ll understand.
His name was Don. Don’t remember his surname. Doesn’t matter. He was our boating/waterskiing/sailing counsellor. What’s key is, he was a total HUNK!!!!! And the only man around, except for Herbert, who looked like Humpty Dumpty with spectacles.
Obviously Don wasn’t assigned to any of our bunks. Not that we wouldn’t have been thrilled to have him. He had his own ‘cottage’ near the dining room. Not that the distance stopped the constant flow of nocturnal traffic he got. Not from the campers, at least as far as I know, but who knows. From the counsellors. Yeah, thanks to Don, there were more hormones raging at camp than there were mosquitos and black flies buzzing.
He was tall. About 6’1″ or a bit more. Lean, with broad shoulders and abs of steel. Paul Newman blue eyes. Bright white teeth. Skin tanned the colour of burnt caramel. No wonder, he was out, on the water all day; and back then we didn’t have ozone problems. We all baked in the sun, without fear. I don’t think sun screen had been invented then. His hair was probably sandy-coloured. But the sun had bleached it almost white.
Yeah, I can still see him that clearly.
Anyway, back to my injury; and why I couldn’t have been happier to be hobbling around. Obviously sports were out for me. I could go to all the arty activities, but that was it. I could swim. In fact it was good for me. They made me swim a lot.
But I could also SAIL. A bum knee didn’t stop me from sailing. Are you catching on yet?
Right! I had Don practically to myself, all summer long. For several hours, every day. He and I got to go sailing, alone, every single day. I got so good he once let me sail around the entire lake, myself. It was amazing!!
Wonder what Don’s up to, these days. I could use some instruction …