Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer by the Sea at Camp Lemon Bay: Home from Camp!

Dear Grandma Bonnie,

What an amazing summer!  I apologize for sending so few postcards while I was at camp, but they kept us busy!  I did take tons of pictures though, and I thought I’d share them with you now that I am home and have more time to write.  I could never fit my whole summer into one letter so I’ll try to tell a bit of my story each time I write.  I’ll tell you as much as I can tonight until Mom tells me to go to sleep! 
First of all, I don’t know how I could ever thank you for such a wonderful birthday gift.  I am embarrassed to admit that when I opened your card at my birthday party and saw the enrollment form to Camp Lemon Bay, one word went through my mind.  Bor-ing.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong!  Grandma, you seem to know me even better than I know myself.  My summer by the sea at Camp Lemon Bay has given me adventures, memories, and friendships I will treasure all my life.
Back at home after my amazing summer by the sea at Camp Lemon Bay - Looking at souvenirs
Featured item: Doll Canopy Bed

 Here’s a picture of me just after returning from camp.  I didn’t want the summer to end.  I spent hours pouring over the souvenirs from my summer by the sea.  They let me keep my Camp Lemon Bay uniform and the campsite map.  I also have a memory bottle with sand and shells I found on the beach.  My favorite keepsake is my scrapbook, which I made at the Arts & Crafts tent.  Our head counselor was also our craft instructor.  We did fun craft projects almost every day . . . but wait.  I’m, getting ahead of myself.  Let me start at the beginning. 

Meeting Kirsti for the first time at the entrance to Camp Lemon Bay
I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was when Dad dropped me off at Camp Lemon Bay.  Walking toward the entrance holding back tears, I was ready to turn around, run to the car, and tell Dad I’d changed my mind.  What a mistake that would have been!  Luckily, there was another girl walking in at the same time.  She looked my way with a cheerful, encouraging smile and said, “Hi!  First time at camp, huh?”  It was Kirsti, who would soon become my tent mate and friend, a true friend I know I will always trust.  

“Yes,” I whispered, as I swallowed the lump in my throat.  I wondered how she knew.

As if answering my unspoken question, Sarah nodded in sympathy and said,  “Last year was my first year.  I remember that "Oh no! My family is leaving!" panic like it was yesterday.  In that moment, I would have chosen to stay home, babysit my three younger brothers, and clean toilets all summer.  But don’t worry.  You are going to LOVE it here!   By the way, I’m Kirsti.  Glad to know you!”

I wasn’t completely convinced, but I was glad Kirsti was there to distract me from the homesick ache I felt as Dad drove out of the parking lot.  I couldn’t help smiling at her opting for a summer with three younger brothers and toilet duty over camp.  One younger brother made my life hard enough. 

“I’m Sarah,” I managed to squeak out.,“and . . . thanks for understanding, Kirsti.”  

“No problem!” she winked, putting her hand reassuringly on my shoulder.  “Come on!  Let’s get this summer started!”  she coaxed as she pulled me toward a table set up at the camp entrance.  

Checking in to Camp Lemon Bay - Picking up my uniform and map
Featured item: 4-Doll Picnic Table

At the check-in table our two camp counselors, Mary and Lissie, greeted us with big smiles and warm hellos.  Mary, the head counselor, got me registered and assigned me a tent.  Lissie, the sailing instructor, gave me my uniform, a map of the camp, and some basic guidelines.  She informed me that I was to go find my tent, meet my tent mate, and gather at the picnic grounds for a cookout.  We were to put our camp t-shirts on but wait on our uniforms. 

As I walked off in the direction of the tents, Kirsti called after me.  “Sarah, wait up!  Which tent did you get?”

“Number 7. You?” 

“Hey!  Looks like you are stuck with me as your tentmate.”

“What a relief!” I sighed.  “I guess 7 is my lucky number!”

“You might change your mind when you see what a slob I am,” warned Kirsti.

We got to the tent and put our things in order (well, I did anyhow) and changed into our Camp Lemon Bay t-shirts. 
“Kirsti, why can’t we wear our uniforms yet?” I asked. 
“You’ll see,” she replied knowingly.  
First Night Cookout - Meeting the other campers and getting to know my tent mate better
Featured item: Doll Picnic Set

The cookout was both fun and a great way to break the ice with the other campers.  Kirsti introduced me to a lot of the girls she knew from last year.  And, as if she had known them all her life, she just walked right up to the new campers.   She’s brave like that.  I was glad to be there with her. 
               We grilled hotdogs over the campfire and then the head counselor, Mary, called for our attention.  First she laid out the camp rules.  Basic stuff: don’t go off the trails or handle wildlife; you and your tent mate are a team so stick together; don’t litter – that kind of thing.  She told us we could find the day’s itinerary posted each morning by the mess tent.  She also mentioned that if we weren’t up, dressed and finished eating before 7:00 we wouldn’t be eating until lunch!  I groaned, wondering how I was ever going to be up that early.  Wasn’t summer invented for sleeping in?
Next, she taught us the camp cheer.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.  It goes like this:

Camp Lemon Bay! Camp Lemon Bay! Friendship, Truth and Trust. 
We’ll always say, “Camp Lemon Bay! Camp Lemon Bay or Bust!”

Finally, Mary told us about the uniforms.  She started with a history of Camp Lemon Bay – how it was founded by a family who believed that girls should learn to love adventure, but know how to enjoy the adventure safely.  They also understood that friendship is a precious gift, one that must be earned, nurtured, and cherished – every day!  They started Camp Lemon Bay with the aim to give girls an opportunity to experience the love of adventure, and the beauty of friendship.  Mary encouraged us to wear the uniform with pride, remembering that when we have it on we represent the camp, its history, and all the girls that have been, or will be, Camp Lemon Bay campers. She reminded us that our behavior and actions affect everyone around us and reflect on Camp Lemon Bay.  
Lissie checking on us and telling us to call it a day.             My first night at Camp Lemon Bay with my new friend.
Featured items:  Super Deluxe Doll Camp Set  and  2-Doll Camp Tent and Cots shown with Bedrolls
We walked back to our campsite, quietly.  I think Kirsti and I were both reflecting on Mary’s words.   I had just sat down to write you a postcard when Lissie stopped by the tent.  She came to make sure we were all set for the night and told us it was time to put out the campfire and get some rest.  Tomorrow would be a busy day. 
By the time I got into the tent after brushing my teeth, Kirsti was nearly asleep on her cot.  I laid on mine looking out through the window at the stars.  I felt small in the great scheme of things but part of something bigger than myself at Camp Lemon Bay.  I grabbed Kirsti’s hand.  This was a pretty good start on “friendship.”  I was curious how “truth” and “trust” would become part of this adventure.  As I fell off to sleep, I decided I was going to like summer camp after all.  With a certain resolve, I looked forward to living up to the privilege of wearing the Camp Lemon Bay uniform.
The next morning, after dressing and stumbling to the mess tent for a way-too-early breakfast of lukewarm scrambled eggs, toast and oranges, Kirsti and I checked the itinerary.  First off would be fire-starting lessons and then camp inspection.  Kirsti already had her fire starting badge so I was on my own. 
         Earning my fire starter badge.                          "Time for inspection!"                               "Where do I start?" 
Featured Items:  Campfire Pit  and  2-Doll Camp Tent and Cots shown with Bedrolls
 I listened carefully to Mary’s instructions on how to begin with kindling and paper and slowly add larger pieces of wood.  I gathered a bucket of sand and kept it close by to extinguish the fire.  I made sure to put my matches back into the waterproof container.  It only took me two matches to get the fire going.  We were allowed three – so I passed! 
“Now, time for inspection!” Mary called out.  From inside the tent Kirsti shouted, “Ack!  I need a few more minutes!” Then I heard her mumble, “Where do I even start?”  I don’t know how she got the tent so messy in just a few hours but I dashed in and together we managed to get things in order enough to pass inspection. 
After Mary left, Kirsti wiped the sweat off her brow and asked, “How do you keep everything so neat, Sarah?  Your side of the tent would pass Marine Corps inspection! ”
“Believe me, I wasn’t always this tidy, Kirsti.  Here’s what my Grandma Bonnie taught me:  ‘A place for everything; everything in its place.’”
“What does that mean?” asked Kirsti with a puzzled look on her face. 
“Well, I used to drive myself crazy looking for lost books, my library card, sneakers I was forever leaving here, there and everywhere.  I’d waste so much time hunting for things and was always late for play-dates, church, you name it.  Then two years ago, I spent the summer with my grandma.  Sure enough, I misplaced my sneakers.  That’s when she told me, ‘A place for everything; everything in its place!’   I had to ask her what it meant too.  She explained that if you make a specific place for something, and say to yourself, ‘This is where my _______ belongs,’ you will be more likely to put it back in that place.  Then the next time you go looking for it, you will probably find it where it belongs.   So I gave it a try.  I decided I would put my sneakers at the foot of my bed, my library card in the top inner zipper pocket of my backpack, and any book I was reading on my pillow.  Guess what?  It worked!  Sometimes I get lazy and leave my shoes on the front porch, or drop my book on the sofa and don’t find it until someone vacuums under the cushions.  BUT, for the most part, I waste a LOT less time looking for lost things and I am hardly ever late . . . unless I don’t get out of bed on time that is. 
“Hmm,” Kirsti said thoughtfully.  “Maybe I’ll give it a try.”  And she did, Grandma!  You’ll be happy to learn that at the end of summer we were given the award for best kept tent!  Mary and Lissie could hardly believe it.  They remembered Kirsti’s tent from last summer.  But there I am getting ahead of myself again.
Oh, no.  Mom is calling for lights out.  I’ll have to stop here for the week.  Homeschool starts tomorrow and you know how Mom is about punctuality.  She’s fond of reminding me: “Just because there’s no bus to catch or bell to hear, doesn’t mean you won’t spend time in detention if you’re late” (meaning, I stay inside after my schoolwork is done doing chores instead of going outside to my favorite spot – the garden). 
I love you, Grandma.  I don’t know if I could ever find the words to tell how much I appreciate you sending me to Camp Lemon Bay.  But I’m going to try!  I’ll send this letter off tomorrow and write more next weekend.   You are in my heart and prayers always.
Your (favorite) granddaughter,
P.S.  Here are a few more photos – a sneak peek at what’s coming in future letters!
Fishing on the pier at Camp Lemon Bay
Horseback riding on the beach
Kirsti (almost) flips the skiff!!
Getting lost on a hike, and our terrible argument
Fun art and craft projects
My first solo sail  . . .  and many other amazing adventures!
Until then!
To learn more about the products featured here and Lemon Bay Doll Co, a business "founded by a family who believes that girls should learn to love adventure, but know how to enjoy the adventure safely; and understood that friendship is a precious gift, one that must be earned, nurtured, and cherished – every day!"  please visit our Etsy shop: Lemon Bay Doll Co. 

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Time passes so very quickly. Enjoy the adventure.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!