We’ve been circulating Brenda Bowen’s Enchanted August amongst the Maine Camp Experience and we’re loving it! With the beauty of a Maine summer as its backdrop, it’s the perfect book to read while the kids are at camp and the house is quiet. And there’s still time! Camp isn’t over for a couple weeks, so grab it and get reading. Or better yet? Let us give you a copy! From now until August 15, you can enter to win your very own Enchanted August. Here’s how: 1) Comment on this Maine Camp Experience Facebook post with “What you love about summer in Maine” and 2) email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Enchanted August Giveaway” to let her know you commented, and you’ll be entered to win one of 25 books.
In the meantime, we are so excited to have Brenda Bowen join us on the MCE blog this week for some reminiscences of her daughter’s time at a Maine Camp Experience member camp. Enjoy!
By Brenda Bowen
Ten years later, I don’t remember why I had to get to Camp Wyonegonic, in Denmark, Maine, on that particular day. Was it the camp play, for which my daughter was working crew? I think it was. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I had to be there. And Denmark is a long way away. From anywhere.
I started my journey in Los Angeles. I had been attending a conference where we sat in chilly, windowless rooms all day and had overlong dinners every evening. To get to Maine in time, I’d have to leave the conference the moment it was over, take a cab to the airport, and fly back home to New York on the red-eye. I fought the traffic, made the flight, arrived in New York at dawn, and watched the sunrise as a taxi took me from one airport to another, so I could fly to Portland. And then drive to Denmark.
When I turned onto the dirt road that leads to the camp, and rolled down all the windows, I remembered why I had made the long journey, and why I chose to send my daughter to the oldest girls’ camp in Maine.
There is great peace at a Maine camp. The trees rise up like the ribs of a gothic cathedral. The air is still, and when there’s a breeze, you can hear it. There’s a lake nearby, and neat cabins, and bright towels hanging on the line. Sometimes you can smell the earthy scent of horses. Alarming shooting ranges remind you that your daughter will come home knowing how to shoot an arrow. There are girls of all stripes, wearing green and white, or navy and white, or khaki and white, and they’re all talking. Music is not playing, unless someone is picking the strings of a guitar. Everyone is wearing a friendship bracelet and carrying a bucket seat. Mirrors do not feature.
A kind counselor pointed me in the direction of my daughter’s cabin. I was told the girls were canoeing, so it might be a while till they came back. The cabin had a swept floor, neat trunks were lined up at the end of narrow beds, dust motes swirled in the filtered light from the windows. I lay down on my daughter’s bed, closed my eyes, and slept the deepest and most peaceful sleep I can ever recall.
I had a dim awareness of the girls bounding in after their activity was over. They stopped when they saw me asleep. As gently as Snow White’s seven small companions, they tiptoed around the bed and tried not to wake me. When at some point I heard my daughter say “Mom?” I opened my eyes. And then I cried.
The play – Once Upon an Island – was a wonderful mess of improvised costumes, muffed lines, robust singing, and excellent lighting cues. At the end of the night we had Circle Time around the campfire, held hands, and listened to taps close out the day. My daughter and I shared a fierce hug and cried a few more tears, and then I drove off to a nearby B&B for the night. She’ll be home soon, I thought, and she is in the best hands.
We had six summers at our Maine Camp in all. My daughter grew up, and went to high school, and is finishing college this year. This summer, she worked crew on a movie set. She always did like working behind the scenes.
And I’m writing this at JFK airport, about to board a plane for that same conference in California. When the traffic gets bad, and the air-conditioning is unbearable, I’ll close my eyes and transport myself back to Maine. And cherish the memory.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.