CAMP SEALTH —Anne Holmes
“We’re out at Camp Sealth, the camp of our dreams
Where the ocean just ripples and sparkles and gleams”…
Ahhh… the smell of creosote and salt water… Carol jumped up and down, barely able to contain herself, grabbed Ruth’s arm, her best friend, and dragged her over to the railing of the ferry. Yes! Finally, after a year and what seemed like an eternity, they were back at Camp Sealth, the happiest place on Earth! She had endured the entire school year as a Camp Fire Girl, doing good deeds, earning beads to sew on her bolero and selling those mints door to door. All good things, but it was the thought of Camp Sealth for one week each summer that made the whole thing worthwhile. Ruth loved Camp Sealth just as much as Carol did and they had been camp buddies for the last four years.
A few fleeting pings of homesickness were experienced by all that first year. But the annual escape to Vashon Island for one week each summer, learning to live and embrace a Spartan lifestyle, singing songs all day long for every special and mundane occasion, those were just a few of the things they came to love.
…”So come on and join us for we are never blue
Be a member of our happy laughing crew, you too”…
Carol’s family took a yearly summer vacation, usually driving down the Washington and Oregon coasts, or taking the train to Iowa to visit relatives. The train to Iowa… Carol had fond memories of the glory days of riding the train, but that’s a story for another day. The family vacations did not include camping, and Carol came to find that she really liked it. Camp Sealth would provide this opportunity for her.
Each year at camp there would be an “overnight” or journey into the woods, when two or more cabins of six girls would leave their Spartan cabins and hike to a campground. The first year would be for only one night, but as the girls got older, this could increase to three or even four nights. This year it would be three nights as Carol and Ruth had graduated from being “Bluebirds”, “White Caps” and were now “Village Girls”.
The sleeping bags were not like the high tech ones of today. They were all cotton: canvas on the outside with a flannel lining on the inside and batting in between acting as insulation. Needless to say, they were not lightweight. Carol, Ruth and their newfound friends did not use backpacks on this journey. They would put all needed clothes inside their sleeping bags, roll them length-wise like a sausage and hang them around their necks like a horseshoe. This was not comfortable, but Carol and the Girls only had to hike for an hour or two like this.
…At night ‘round the camp fire, we laugh and we sing
Give a cheer for Camp Sealth and make the echoes ring”…
They made it to their secluded campground and removed the dreaded horseshoes! The place was beautiful! There were a couple of rough cedar picnic tables, a cabinet full of basic eating utensils and a fire pit. There was a clearing where they would sleep, not a shelter, so they would sleep under the stars! There were trees around of course, that could protect them from the rain, but it never rained when Carol and Ruth went to Camp Sealth. The weather was always beautiful, the best that the Pacific Northwest had to offer!
The counselors carried all the food with backpacks, so they earned the right to take it easy. Meanwhile Carol and “the Girls” had to collect enough firewood to last for the entire trip. They would separate the wood into three piles: tinder, kindling and fuel. This would take hours and by the time they were finished, they were starving! The fire was constructed and lit, food wrapped in foil and thrown into the fire. What emerged was a gourmet meal fit for a King!
After clean up was complete, it was time to do what they all did best… sing. Grabbing some appropriately sized fire wood that doubled as marshmallow roasting sticks, they made their S’mores, but with Camp Fire mints instead of chocolate bars. Now it was time to separate into groups and rotate shifts to keep the fire going all night.
…”We’ll cheer for our leaders, our counselor’s campers too
We’ll cheer for you and you and you and you, we do.”