Sweet Memories and Some Bitter Goodbyes

August 14, 2009

In just a few short hours, the campers, counselors and administrators of Camp Tall Timbers will dress in their best and begin filing into the dining hall for one last dinner together – the always bittersweet session-ending banquet.

The food will be good, as it always is. The campers will look presentable to outsiders for the first time in quite awhile thanks to their fancy clothes, and the conversation will almost certainly bounce around, touching on all of the fun activities, laughs and memories that have been made at CTT this year. From the opening campfire, to Monte Carlo Night, to skating night and to the murder mystery we solved this morning I expect everyone will be bubbling just thinking of this last session.

Later tonight, we will sit as a group around a special campfire and reminisce – not only of the special activities I’ve already mentioned, but of everyday occurrences. We could think about something learned in lacrosse class, possibly a play made in a CTT baseball game, maybe even something memorable from bunk time. We will look back on water fights, Pirate Day, bowling night and mealtime shenanigans with fond smiles.

One thing I know for certain is that tonight, after the packing is done, the thinking starts. You think about the activities, about the counselors, about your friends and about the rest of the CTT family. You think about how you will miss camp in the next 11 and a half months and how you dread boarding that bus in the morning. I know we all long to see our families, but we always hate to leave this place.

During the closing campfire tonight there will undoubtedly be a lot of smiles, a lot of laughs, a lot of introspective looking back and almost certainly a few tears. Even though we can make like a Cubs fan and remember there is always next year, this one was special. This is the one we will remember most vividly for the next year and therefore, these are the CTT memories that will be emblazoned in the front of that special section of our brain where we store our Tall Timbers memories until next time rolls around.

Tomorrow morning, there will be a breakfast and then it will be time to say our goodbyes. We will say goodbye to our friends, to our bunkmates, to the counselors and most importantly to this small sect of land we call our home away from home. This is the place we come to get away from everyday, and tomorrow we will head back into everyday.

On the way to the bowling alley last night, several counselors kidded that we have become institutionalized by CTT. I fear this may be true for both campers and counselors so don’t be surprised when your child doesn’t leave the breakfast table because he or she is waiting for announcements to begin. If they slam an empty pitcher on the table, don’t blame them – that one’s on us. Because we are responsible for some annoying habits like these, hopefully your camper will bring home some good things as well.

Hopefully, your child will want to be outdoors and active. Hopefully, they will want to spend time with their friends because they have learned every moment is precious (you figure that out when you only have a few weeks together). And hopefully, they will live every minute to its fullest, and seize each and every day – because that is what life here is all about. We wake up every day with the attitude that we can make today better than the day before and hopefully this is something your kids can now exhibit as well.

All in all, we have had a great summer at CTT and everyone involved is sad to see August 15th preparing to pop up on the calendar. That day may end this summer for CTT, but it doesn’t end what CTT stands for. We still have our friends, our health and our fondest memories of good times here. Every day of the summer stands as an unforgettable one, and I know that as soon as the dust from the outgoing buses settles we are already looking forward to those same buses dropping off kids for 2010.

This is my first year at CTT, and lord willing it won’t be my last. Personally, I have had the best summer of my life and I feel very privileged to be able to chronicle it every day. I hope you all enjoyed reading my little tidbits of information and I hope I can be here next year to bring it to you again. I have met some incredible kids, made some great friends and shared a million and one fantastic moments with my CTT family.  I can attest that this place is special, and I want everyone to know the smiles you see on campers’ faces in the photo section are real.

Since I have the forum to do so, I want to thank everyone that made it possible for me to be here and bring you, the CTT families, closer into the fold of life at camp. I know I’ll be choking back tears tomorrow when we all say goodbye, but they will be bittersweet. Bitter because I feel like I’m leaving my life for the last two months behind on a dirt road in the West Virginia countryside, but sweet because I know I made some great friends who will last a lifetime. That really seems to be the word that sums up the end of camp – bittersweet.

So all that being said, I’d like to say thanks to everyone for reading and I hope you enjoyed it, because I enjoyed bringing it to you. If you are ever passing through south side Virginia look me up and we’ll sit for awhile. Otherwise, thanks again.

I know I can’t wait for next year. I’m ready for first session 2010 to begin right now. But unfortunately, we’ll just have to wait. So goodbye for now, and I’ll talk to you in June.

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