Friday, July 8, 2011


 Heartstrings - your deepest feelings of love and compassion

Where did the term "tugging on your heartstrings" come from?  I can tell you ~ from mothers who had to drop their daughters off at a camp for five weeks, knowing that that their children: desperately want to go, would have fabulous experiences, would develop friendships from around the country if not the world, and that they will have more fun then the law should allow in that five weeks....But, what if:  I am not designed to just leave my children for five weeks?  What if: I selfishly want my children to be home ~ with me? Some mothers look upon camp as a vacation of sorts...a chance to relax, unwind and not have parental responsibilities.  My wiring doesn't work that way ~ It is a true act of motherly love to leave my children for five long weeks at this camp each year.  Every summer I live with a grapefruit sized lump of grief in my gut - waiting for any trigger to bring it out.  With years of practice, I am good at swallowing it down, but there are still sights and sounds that manage to get to me.  A song on the radio, the sight of their favorite  book in the book case, running into their friends, pictures on the internet from camp. Yesterday, a letter came from Sara's counselor with the weekly update on her progress and I was trying to read it out loud to Elizabeth and got so teary eyed, I had to hand it to her to let her finish reading that is plum ridiculous; but it is what it is and I guess it is not going to change.

This year it is, my little buddy and side kick, Ellen's first time to go - 
Sniff, Sniff....well let me just say it....WAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

For the last two years, while the older two were off leaving me all by my lonesome, Ellen and I 
were foot loose and fancy free.  Two years ago, we got her beautiful Golden Retriever Libby.  We spent the summer oohing and ahhing at that precious puppy, loving on her and soaking up five weeks of uninterrupted time to just be.   Last year, we spent the summer cooking, quilting, knitting, visiting family and playing with her friends and her dog, Libby, of course.  We were road warriors: driving to and from camp to drop off the older two, stopping to see family along the way and loving the time at home in between.
Now, Ellen and Sara will stay for five weeks while Elizabeth is at home.  Even though Elizabeth has spent her last five summers at camp, it is a tradition that you do not attend camp the summer before college ~ a very good tradition.  I am glad to have this last summer before she heads off to college to spend some time getting ready for that big step.  Camp is a baby step for College.....but, I think I will be much better prepared for the big departure because of my summers. 

I can't believe my baby is old enough to go to camp this year.  Here she is making herself a towel wrap.

She is old enough to do that too ~ double WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Up until the point where I had to physically drop the girls off for five long weeks, never to be seen or heard from again (just joking) we really had a good time.  It was about a nine hour drive until we reached Greenville, North Carolina - the cutest town in the whole wide world, really.  It is adorable.

I was having battery charging problems so used my Iphone and got a little 
"artsy" here.  Hard to see the town, but you will have to trust me 
on this.  When we were looking at colleges, I really wanted Elizabeth to go 
to Furman University so I could visit her and enjoy this quaint, little town. 

 It reminds me 
so much of small towns in Europe with the sidewalk cafes, eclectic shopping and 
people strolling about at all hours. 

I cannot do it justice with an IPhone!  But, a beautiful river runs through it, and a suspended bridge connects the two sides of the town with an amphitheater down below.  Whoever designed this town is an architectural genius and I am going to retire here....if I don't have some deep-seated, psychologically- rooted anger towards it and everything around Camp Green Cove for taking my babies away from me.....

Good bye Greenville ~ Hello Green Cove!

With my batteries recharged, I am back to my beloved Nikon we are with two girls who are busting at the seams, bouncing up and down, while we are on the way to drop them off the next morning.  I bet there are are few little butterflies in that Ellen's stomach ~ I know they are in mine!  
 And my heartstrings - they are hurting.   

Before the car could even park, Sara was out, hugging her camp friends and renewing old friendships, breathing in that fresh, mountain air....thrilled to be back!

Ellen (I mean Gary) unpacked her very cool trunk...It was my Dad's trunk when he was in the army,  then my sister's trunk when she went to a four week camp, then Elizabeth's trunk when she went to camp for the last five years....I love owning things with a story. 

Here is a shot of Sara moving in. One of the things I like about this camp is the pure rusticness of it....sleeping quarters with concrete floors, screened windows and bunk-beds that have woolen blankets.... all reminiscent of an army barracks with community bathrooms to boot.  Not that they need showers - from the reports I get, they can go up to four days without showering!
Thats is what camp is all about!  

Sara finally finished Katherine's birthday present and brought it to her at camp....they have "co-eds" every Saturday night with the brother camp that is near by.  Old fashioned porch parties, square dances, bonfires and cookouts, the girls get all gussied up, ( if you can call coming off a river, throwing on a dress and going to the shin-dig with wet hair and no make-up getting gussied up) and have a chance to meet the boys at the nearby camp.  

I miss my creative, little Sara - WAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

On a lighter note - that side burn of mine is looking very "Elvisnish"....note to self for next year ~
Do not drop girls off at camp with cute, preppy look accompanied by Elvis sideburns
Question: We just this very second moved these girls in and it looks like a bomb went off - what will it look like in five weeks????????

Once you unpack and move in - it is time to start qualifying and placing in all the activities like swimming, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding.  That is how they access your skills, give you goals and track your progress.  Your rewards for achieving goals are going on fantabulous (love that word that I made up) trips!  Like Pedal, Paddle, Hike trips where you pedal through the mountains, spend the night camping, paddle the next day down rivers, camp and end by hiking or mountain climbing.  Here, Ellen has already unpacked and is at the dock waiting for her swimming test with her first friend ~ sniff, sniff.

Two of Ellen's cabin mates - still waiting for their tests!

Here they are ~ their first water test.  They have to tread water or basically stay afloat for thirty minutes.  Ellen passed - proud of my baby!  

After the swim test - it was about time for me to, gulp, leave.  This was the last glimpse I had of Ellen after I said goodbye....there she goes ~ just after passing her swim test, talking ninety-to-nothing with her new-found friend. 

Here is how I left my Sara ~ surrounded by her best friends, grinning from ear to ear - ready to go and pass off on all her qualifications so she can get down to going on fun trips!

We were pleasantly surprised to find, when we walked into the gathering area, that they had a collection of pictures featuring each of the activities Green Cove offers: 
Paddling, Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Horseback Riding, Sailing, Hiking.

And look who they chose to represent Kyacking - my adventuresome Lizzy!  Get down you big ole   lump of a heartstring!  Wow ~ can you see the pure joy on her face????
That is why I endure my time without them.....five weeks wondering and waiting and hoping that they are OK, that they are having the time of their life, that they aren't homesick, that they are making lifelong friends, that they are discovering new passions and joys in life.  It is a waiting game - one that I have played before and one that I know I can win  ~ but not without a lot of heartstrings being tugged and pulled all over the place!  But when they come home...oh, when they come home.....the strings of the heart slip magically back into their resting places and the stories of their
incredible summer somehow make it all worthwhile - once again. 

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