A fond farewell

Katy just finished her last summer at Camp Juliette Low. The girls can go from ages 7-15 as campers and at 16 and 17 can be counselors in training. Sixteen and 17 year olds used to be able to go as campers. Katy said that stopped that when the unit they stayed in slid down the mountain but since the platforms are still there I have my doubts. The unit was called Laurel Ledge and Katy said this session’s camp nurse had been a camper in Laurel Ledge one summer and when she came back the next summer it was gone. Katy opted not to do the CIT program, although it’s really neat, as she would like to do summer school and she’d like to go back to Space Camp, as well. So this year was it.

We dropped her off last Monday, the 12th.

Trunks get delivered to the tents (except Romany, which is close to a parking lot) but the rest has to be carried in so Heath played Sherpa hauling along her bedding.

We helped her get her bed made up (not that she needs the help) and were on our way.

The camp has alumni who volunteer to take photos and upload them to Bunk1 so we get lots of pictures, which is really nice. Katy took her camera and other than a photo scavenger hunt where the photos got deleted didn’t take a single picture.

Katy has made two good friends at camp and they all requested to be tentmates. However, none of them seemed to remember that Annie is a year younger and might not be in their unit. All of the 15-year-olds are in Glen and then if there’s space left they squeeze in 14-year-olds. They had one 14-year-old in Glen. And she may have been disappointed she wasn’t in Sherwood with the rest of the 14-year-olds as they cleaned up at All-Camp Day and won the whole contest. But anyway, Katy and Joline were happy to be in the same tent.

One of Katy’s counselors was actually a friend of hers from school, Emma Grace. She was a CIT last summer and noticed that Katy had a Johns Creek High School t-shirt on and asked her about it. Emma Grace was a senior this year but she and Katy were in a club together. Emma Grace has been going to CJL since she was in Romany (seven) and this summer came back as a staff member. I asked how it was coming to camp as a grown-up and she said it was great. She said “I turned 18 at camp so I’m a newly minted grown-up!”. Many of the staff members go the same route. We talked to one very young-looking staff member who said this was her 22nd summer. I imagine she started at seven.

Emma Grace is in front next to Katy and other three girls are the other unit counselors.

So on to the fun. Katy signed up for crafts, general merriment (a catch-all class that does all kinds of fun stuff) and extreme outdoor living skills. They only take the 10 oldest girls who sign up for extreme and there’s always enough 15 year olds to sign up that you really only have that one shot at it. Katy had never done crafts before and wanted to so she would have something to keep from camp. Also you can do crafts during rec. time instead of swimming and she liked that idea, too. With 10 full days they really get some nice things made.

Katy in the craft house. She entered this little box into the All Camp Day craft contest and won second place. The stripes are the unit colors. Glen is officially brown but no one really likes brown so the unofficial color is plaid. She didn’t feel like painting plaid, though.

Katy’s pile of crafts at home. She also made something with fusion beads but didn’t get a chance to iron it so they are going to iron it and mail it home.

As I said, General Merriment is kind of a catch-all class. One day the girls took their ENOs down near the gate and hung them up and made friendship bracelets. It was Katy’s first time to make a friendship bracelet (I showed her a few years ago but she didn’t remember) and she decided to keep hers for herself.

Katy was most excited about extreme OLS or just “extreme” as the girls call it. They learned all kinds of things. They went on a water hike in the pouring rain, learned to purify water, did some first aid. They learned about different pieces of equipment. The highlight is a backpacking overnight. They went to Cloudland Canyon State Park and hiked eight miles to a backwoods campsite, a real haul for Katy’s short legs. They cooked dinner over a backpacking stove — beans and rice. She said the fire pit was two feet from a wooden picnic table and 18 inches from a tree so they didn’t want a fire that close and everything was wet, anyway. The hung up their ENOs but it’s chilly enough in the mountains they had to use their sleeping bags, too. The next morning, given the dampness and the proximity of fire pit to flammable objects, they just had bagels with Nutella and peanut butter for breakfast. They hiked out two miles then did the waterfall trail, which is a really strenuous hike involving 600 stair steps down and then back up. Katy’s unit did that for their day trip last year and she was still talking about how hard it was and this time they did it with heavy packs on their backs. They enjoyed every minute of it.

They have their arms in an X for extreme. Ten campers and four counselors.

Hiking around camp.

All of the girls do an overnight under the stars. This time Sherwood went to Cloudland Canyon and the other groups stayed at camp. Glen opted for ENOs (they can as long as everyone has one and if you don’t you can usually borrow from a younger girl). It started raining at camp about 6:15 in the morning so everyone dashed back to the units, got a short nap (wake-up is 7) and made breakfast in the unit kitchens. It was humid all week with rain forecast for every day but Katy said the only time it rained was when they needed to build a fire.

Sundays at camp are a little different. The girls sleep “late” (7:45) and have breakfast in their pajamas. Then they put on their camp uniforms and go to Sunday School Rock. They sing and I don’t know what all else.

This area is no where near as big as it looks.

For an afternoon activity they had a list of camp songs and had to run around camp taking photos to illustrate the songs.

This was an easy song — Aloha. Some of them were real creative.

Meals are great at CJL. They’re served family style. Hostesses set the tables and bring the food out (and go back for seconds). After the meal, everyone who wasn’t a hostess washes the dishes used at their table and they sing songs while they do it. This camp is very big on singing.

This was potato bar night. It’s an easy dish-washing night as it’s the one night they use paper plates. Katy probably wishes they would use them on taco bar night, she said those dishes are hard to get clean. Lots of stuck-on cheese, I imagine.

Katy had one interesting lunch while there. The American Camp Association came for their every-three-years inspection. They arrived at 9 a.m. and stayed through lunch. Katy said one of the men in the group sat at her table and asked what they liked best about camp. Katy said they just kind of sat there as they had a hard time narrowing it down. They also taught the guy how to make a CJL special (white bread, peanut butter, sugar and lemon juice). The camp, of course, passed the inspection just fine.

Every day starts with “colors” (flag ceremony) before breakfast unless it’s raining. Then in the evening they have colors again to lower the flag.

Katy at colors one morning.

They take photos of the girls in front of their tents but all of Glen’s tent photos were in the lodge for some reason. Those are foam nuts around their necks. One side says “CIT Wanna-Be” and the other side has a message from the counselors. Joline doesn’t have one because she’s staying for another session and she’ll get hers then.

The last day and a half is All-Camp Day, which is all kinds of contests, a horse show and a banquet. Glen is in charge of the banquet theme and decorations and they picked Hannah Montana. The girls all wear their uniforms for this, too.

Well, Sherwood cleaned up. They won a huge number of competitions and won the whole thing. The rain made it a little challenging. For wood chopping the girls all stood in a building and watched as the competitors were under a tarp right outside the door. They couldn’t build a fire for water boiling so they replaced it with Extreme Table Kapers (competitive dish-washing). They did get 14-person fire in, though. Glen won Crafts (including Katy’s contribution), Extreme Table Kapers and Lashing.

The set-up for Extreme Table Kapers. Katy said Sherwood actually finished first by a few seconds but lost a lot of points when a dish got sent back.

Thursday night they do a song competition and there is a required song that everyone sings and then each unit has a secret song. I hadn’t heard of any of this year’s songs. Glen’s secret song was “Next to Me” by Sleeping at Last (whoever they are). I told you singing is big at this camp!

Glenn in their plaid for song competition.

The camp is also big on letter writing (one of our TV stations did a news story on that one year) and one night each session the girls have to write a letter home (and Nancy checks to make sure it’s not just an empty envelope) to get into dinner. So Katy wrote a letter and apparently she tried to write it on the way to dinner!

We also get a postcard from a counselor or program staff member each year which is nice.

They also do superlatives and this was Katy’s. She wore her bucket hat every day the first week. Maybe she got tired of it after that, I’m not sure.

And pick-up day came all too fast.

Saying goodbye.

Katy added another patch to her trunk and I guess it’ll go back in the attic until she goes to college. Rather sad to think about.

We had a little experience at the trading post. We had to stop to pick up her change (she never spends all her money) and her medication. They handed me an envelope that had $54.75 written on the front. I said that can’t be right, we only put $50 on her account. So they got the ledger out and the person wrote $50 but the 5 looked like a 9 so they thought she had $90 on her account. So we owed $4.75. Even if they had read the number right it wouldn’t have mattered as I did give permission for her to go over. She usually doesn’t even spend half of it, including laundry and the camp photos but she bought some craft supplies this year. And a bandana. Since it’s her last year we bought a history of the camp, the camp cookbook (Katy really likes the squash casserole and grape salad), a water bottle and a Christmas ornament. So we forked over some more money and then headed home. We asked Katy if she wanted to walk around some more or say goodby to any staff members but she was OK. They have a reunion weekend every year and she can go to those in the future. On the way home we stopped for lunch and I said “when you have a daughter she can go to session two at CJL with your friends’ daughters” and she said “yep”. There are girls now who go to the same session that their mothers did. You can’t beat that kind of tradition.





2 thoughts on “A fond farewell

  1. This has all been such a memorable set of experiences for her. She’s really lucky you gave her the opportunity to go there, and to chronicle all of it for her.

  2. Gosh! I read it all. Made me cry a little. So good you’re a journalist so you’ve kept all this for her

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