First there’s Color War, one last pool party, a fancy dinner with fancy dress, some limericks and a breakfast. The big red bus pulls in, the campers board, the dust settles as the tears dry in the gravel. And with that, another session is over at Camp Tall Timbers.
In case you don’t realize who I am, I drive the luggage truck to Tyson’s Corner and Rockville (yup, I’m the the big goofy guy with the glasses). It is very nice to be able to meet the parents of some of my favorite campers, but that aspect of the job has a few drawbacks. It’s exciting to pick-up the bags of the campers and to see who is coming, but dropping them off a few weeks later almost always makes me a train wreck.
It’s funny how the names on the bags are just words when I pick them up, yet when I unload them after the session I have a story to go with just about everyone. Justin Lasker’s luggage made me think of how excited he got for every evening activity. Elisabeth Rindner’s bags brought back memories of when she and Hayley Sanders dressed as Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift for a skit about Sham-Wows. I apologize to the parents at those stops for taking so long, but literally every name on a bag sparks a memory.
I dropped Erin Smedley’s and Emily Middendorf’ s luggage off the the truck while thinking about how we laughed at pictures during banquet. Ian Holtz’s gear made me think of his leaping touchdown catch when we won the Super Bowl with the Red Bulls this session. Josh Arnold’s things made me think of the original CTT song he and his cabin perform every year at the opening campfire. As I handed Ethan Polk-Trauman’s golf clubs to his father I have to think about his tremendous talent and how he is the best guitar player at camp at such a young age.
Jamie Alloy’s suitcases made me wonder if I will be her co-worker next year when and if she will become a junior counselor. Brett Richardson’s bags made me think of the booming shots he hit during the softball league and the big smile he always has on his face.
When I got to the end of the truck, the last three bags I unloaded belonged to Taylor, Reece and Casey Dennison. I had to chuckle at how Taylor tried to nickname herself Smurf, but it never caught on and I was the only one who remembered it half of the time. I remember Casey giving everything she had for the white team during tug of war and the hurt leg she got as a result. I’m sure it hurt, but she never complained and limped over to the next team meeting to be there for her teammates. I remember teaching Reece her first guitar chords during my class and the smile on her face when she finally mastered the D chord.
With each suitcase, the end of the session seemed more and more real. Before that, I knew it was coming but it still just seemed surreal. When I set those last bags on the ground, it hit hard. But the end of a session always does (Yes, I’m that guy that always gets upset at the end of the session. Tears happen, okay?).
But, despite how bad the end of a session seems, it is always comforting to know that there will be a next year. That is the great thing about the camp life and its routine- just as sure as the bell will ring every morning, there will be a next year. The summer of 2011 might take forever to get there and just about anything could happen before then, but if we can make it through the next 11 months Camp Tall Timbers will be there for us.
It will be there to generate more special moments that become priceless memories, it will bring us closer to new friends and reunite us with old ones we haven’t seen since the bus ride the year before. Despite what the year brings, we know CTT will be here next here. Hopefully, I will be too and hopefully I get to load up those bags I just unloaded at the beginning of next summer.
So the next 11 months may be a little tough, but just remember that CTT is here. The cabins may be empty and the bell may fall silent, but Camp Tall Timbers will be there like it always has- quietly tucked back in the Appalachian Mountains silently awaiting next summer. And as you go about the year and deal with school, work or whatever else, just remember that CTT is still here and there will always, always be a next summer.
Hopefully, I’ll see you there.