Monday, August 6, 2012

Wonderland Memories

This summer has been pretty stressful so far. Between my dad's health challenges and a lot of changes and big projects going on at work there really has been none of the rest and relaxation that is often attributed to this time of year.

I'm guessing that's the reason I can't stop thinking about my childhood summers these days.

From age five to 13 my summer days were spent at Camp Wonderland.

I mean really, could there be a better name for a summer camp?

My mom worked as a counselor in the "Playhouse," with the four and five year olds so she was always near by as I spent my summers in bunks named after Native American Tribes - I was a Hopi, a Chippewa, a Biloxi and a Navajo.Our bunkhouses were old train cabooses and I can remember many a rainy day spent playing cards and giggling away. The camp featured a wide variety of activities to keep our days busy - swimming, horseback riding, gymnastics, arts and crafts, tennis, a pond for canoeing, a baseball diamond, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts and plenty of free time for kids to just run around and be kids.

Each summer we had Color Wars, complete with a bunk song competition. To this day when I hear California Girls my brain immediately switches the lyrics to Wonderland Girls. My final year as a camper I remember our song was to Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" but the lyrics escape me after all these years.

The more I've been thinking about those days the more memories that keep flooding back. My first time riding a horse, the time I signed  up for tennis as my elective and just how bad my hand/eye coordination was, the camp celebration day towards the end of the summer which included lots of games and faux wedding ceremonies.

As I got older my young cousins joined those summer days with me at Camp Wonderland. I remember my aunt telling someone that it was "nothing special to look at but the kids sure love it."

My last summer at Camp Wonderland was the summer I turned 12. I should have been in the "Junior High Bunk" but, well, they went on lots of camping trips and that was so not up my alley. So instead I was basically a CIT (counselor in training for you non-summer camp aficionados) and I helped out with the four and five year old bunk.

Maybe because it was my last summer at Wonderland, maybe it was because both my little cousins were campers by then and I spent a lot of time with them, but that is certainly the one with my favorite memories.

There's a lot about being 12 that I have no desire to go back and repeat. But, that last summer at Camp Wonderland - I'd do that again in a heartbeat.

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