I am nothing if not nostalgic. If you’ve spent any time following my blog, you already know that. I’m not afraid of what the past holds, for some reason looking back, remembering even the most traumatic wounds is therapeutic for me. I cherish my memories because they paint a very clear picture of how I got to where I am today.
Last week I started working on a manuscript loosely based on my time as a camp counselor in the interior of B.C. Canada. I’ve been mulling over writing a YA series about camp for awhile, and as it is with a lot of my brilliant ideas (ha), I was finally inspired with a story line by a really great song on the radio.
Two days later, my oldest son pulled out a photo album that just happened to be full of pictures from my years at camp. I sat on the couch flipping through those pictures, stepping further and further into the past with each one.
Then I posted one of those pictures on Facebook and tagged the people in it. Camp friends started popping up left and right, commenting on the picture. I laughed and cried as I read the comments; working at camp was the single most life changing experience of my youth. A few years ago our camp was shut down and then sold to a local Boys and Girls Club. The news hit hard across the globe (okay, maybe just in select parts of Canada and in a 1600 square foot space in Dallas, TX…) and I remember weeping over the fact that my kids would never get to experience Circle Square Ranch. As some of my long lost friends commented, we all mourned the ‘passing’ of the Ranch again and started to reminisce about the good old days.
Someone had a brilliant idea, and the next thing I knew, we were all a part of a Facebook group, posting pictures, updating everyone on our lives now, reliving our best memories, chatting with one another behind the scenes . . . the internet can be a beautiful thing.
Up until this point I’d really been trying to distance myself from Facebook. Not ready to get rid of it completely, I’d moved the app to the last screen on my phone and turned off notifications. As well, I started asking myself as I would type status updates: Is this going to change anyone’s life or make anyone’s day better? If the answer was no, I left the page without posting it. I had really been starting to loathe Facebook. But this week spent in the past, going back almost 20 years (you have no idea how painful it is to type that.) has renewed my faith in social media . . . to a point. It has been so awesome to reconnect with friends and see the pictures people are posting from THE best days of my teenage years. As much as I remember, there has been so much forgotten too, and it’s really fun to be reminded and hear stories from other people’s perspectives.
When I started at camp, I was fourteen, broken, though I had no clue, and desperate for acceptance. The Ranch was where I found out who I really was, and that it was okay to be me. I experienced some of the worst hurts and betrayals of my life, but I also made some of my very best friends there. There has been no other place in my life that holds such intense pain and joy simultaneously.
So going back has once again, been therapy for me, and it’s been so timely because of the manuscript I’m working on. It’s also fueling the fire in me to write the true stories, a memoir of sorts about camp. It’s one of the best ways I can think of to preserve the precious memories, and honor the place and the people who helped me become who I am today.
Saddle Up Your Horses. 🙂
(I’m really thankful we didn’t have digital cameras yet. We would have had to retake this picture like 12 times . . .)
What are some of your favorite childhood/teenage memories? Do you have a camp experience to share as well? How do you feel about sending your kids to camp nowadays?