50 Years Through 8-year-old Eyes

Fifty years. That’s a long time. Is there something you have been doing for fifty years? Should you still be doing it? Just kidding. For me, this summer marked fifty years of summer adventures in Maine. Their motto says it all, The Way Life Should Be.

Fifty years ago, the camp was a little red log cabin with the most amazing lake view but no electricity and a stinky outhouse with buckshot holes in the door. In 1974, the new camp was built, almost doubling the size to 400 square feet. It has a fancy composter outhouse now with a shower. The 1990’s brought electricity, complete with a tiny flat-screen TV. It only gets three channels on good days, when the wind isn’t blowing, but we occasionally can catch Wheel of Fortune, a cooking show, news, and weather. Those are important things when on vacation. Ah, modern conveniences.

The view hasn’t changed. The huge, granite rocks still line the lake’s perimeter. The woods are just as dense, although there has been a natural shift of old trees coming down and young ones springing up. The road is still dirt, but wider and without rocks and holes that could demolish a small car. Water is still pumped from the lake to the kitchen sink, thanks to a new pump we installed this year. And by “we,” I mean my husband. I did nothing. The little red squirrels still angrily chirp at us when the bird feeders are empty, and the chipmunks still appreciate peanuts being set out on a rock or may even take them from your hand.

I was eight years old my first time at camp. It was special to me to be at camp this summer with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Emma. There are still plenty of vivid memories of my eight-year-old self at camp. But how much more vivid they were watching Emma. She loves to do all the things I loved: catching frogs, swimming, climbing rocks, playing games, feeding fish, hiking through the woods, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, stargazing, making a lot of noise. All of it. It was heartwarming to see camp through the eyes of an eight-year-old again. And five-year-old Sam brought back memories too—falling off the dock, slipping on the rocks and cutting up toes, and swimming to the beach on a boogie board (in my case, a rubber boat). We even taught Emma our favorite camp card game, and she beat us.

I am thankful for fifty years of fun, frogs, and campfires. As I’ve gotten older, camp has become a place of rest, relaxation, and refreshment. It’s my place to disconnect from the world and be immersed in God’s handiwork allowing me to more deeply connect with him. Jesus told his disciples to do the same thing, “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32 NIV) I think of that verse every time I’m paddling my kayak on a mirror-like lake that is reflecting the rich oranges and purples of a Maine sunset. Whether eight or eighty, our little camp will always be a special place and, of course, the way life should be.

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