Thanks to Burdette Parks for use of the above photo.
“‘Apple blossom afternoon’,” I said, looking up from my knitting. “I like that.”
The line was from a poem Frankie had just read from an Adirondack anthology. There was a murmur of agreement from the staff members lounging around the Wigwam parlor – Helen seated on the floor with needle point, Martha working on her own knitting project, Kelsey curled up with a book and Andrew enjoying the quiet and tending the fire.
It was a cozy evening, one of the first nights of the season with no guests in camp. This happens very occasionally – there’s a gap in our programs that results in one unscheduled night. There are a few ways we’ve taken advantage of these sorts of nights in the four years I’ve been at camp. Sometimes we have parties. We’ve carved pumpkins and played croquet. Last weekend, though, it was cold and rainy and we were all tired from a wedding we’d just hosted. A quieter night was in order.
“Read another, Frankie,” Martha suggested.
Helen giggled slightly as Frankie flipped through the book, looking for another poem. “Could we get more Victorian?” she asked.
We all laughed because, well, no, we couldn’t get much more Victorian than reading poems aloud and working on handicrafts in a 1901 National Historic Landmark building. It was a slightly unusual night for a group of 20-somethings – no computer or ipod being used for music, no cell phones in sight. We would have been hard pressed even to tell time. In the out-of-camp version of that night, someone would have been on a phone texting people who weren’t present.
It was unusual, but there was no question about spending that night any other way, in companionable quiet. Camp’s ability to foster those connections is one of the things I value most about it. My closest friendships of the last four years have developed partly because of the technological black hole we live in.
The remoteness of camp is disorienting at first, but most staff and guests adapt quickly. (And, really, we can get in touch when we need to. Working on computers keeps us in touch with the outside world.) Most people find relief in not being constantly reachable. The community that develops at camp in the absence of so many distractions is a tight, vibrant one. It’s something to love here. Beyond camp, it’s something to remember and, by putting aside distractions in favor of the present, hope to recreate.