Years ago, our small church held an autumn retreat in the now-famous Brown County hills in southern Indiana. Once, my girlfriends and I persuaded the camp director — my mother — to let us stay overnight in a cabin without a chaperone. No volunteers, so she had little choice.
That evening, we ate fiery cinnamon balls and SweeTartsTM until our teeth sizzled. We caked on blue eye shadow and painted our nails sinful colors. Transistor radios filled the cabin with crackly Top 40 songs. We posted a lookout for a boy raid.
Nobody. Stupid boys.
We debated who was cuter: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? We sorted boys we knew into categories: Hip and Drip. The church guys? Drips, of course.
Conversation lagged. The wind moaned outdoors.
We rechecked windows. Those Drips would never pull it off. Losers.
“What if kidnappers come?” Janie quavered.
“Scaredy cat!” Laughing, I turned away so she couldn’t see me shiver.
When someone attempted a shower, a hairy-legged centipede crawled out of the drain. Screeching, we scrambled to top bunks.
Then a mouse scampered across the beam over our beds. Screaming, we hit the bottom bunks with a championship diving team’s precision.
A faint light glimmered in our dusty window. Moonlight? The Drips?
No! Jack the Ripper finally had made his move!
We plunged outside into the dark woods, probably leaping over copperheads to escape Jack.
Mom, the little boys’ counselor, didn’t welcome us to their cabin. “Sleep, or return to your cabin alone.”
We slept. Sort of.
When my brother played morning reveille on his trombone (no trumpet player attended our church), we wished we’d never heard of Brown County. Given this cabin’s nonfunctional shower, we faced the day with greasy hair and back-to-nature fragrance.
Soon, though, we lost ourselves in stitching genuine Indian coin purses, eating hot dogs, singing and learning Bible lessons. Playing dodgeball, we smacked the Drips to demonstrate our everlasting hate and love.
All too soon, we said goodbye until Sunday school, when we would dress up and play nice.
Who knew that soon, Brown County church camp, with its fun-infested cabins, imaginary kidnappers and trombone reveille, would say goodbye, too?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What camp memories do you cherish?