I confess that between class and glee club and HUF and work and relationships, I haven’t had much time to do blog writing. Also, I will not be writing about the musical Into the Woods in this post, even though I do love that musical. Just didn’t want you to get your hopes up.
Now that I’ve thoroughly lowered expectations (though not as much as Donald Trump, I might add), the real subject of this blog post is…camping.
I’ve been thinking about camping a lot recently, possibly because the Glee Club went on retreat two weekends ago to western Massachusetts, and HUF will be going on retreat to New Hampshire this upcoming weekend. Now, it’s not like I’ve been living in a tent, collecting food and not bathing, but I have gotten away from the brick and cobblestones of Cambridge.
While I was with the Glee Club in Pittsfield, MA, I realized that campgrounds are saturated with layer upon layer of memory. Our rehearsals took place in one of the mess halls: we pushed the tables to the corners of the room, plopped the electric piano on a smaller table, and arranged folding chairs in a semicircle around the music stand we had brought from campus. All around us were placards and shields representing the intensely frivolous sports competitions at this summer camp; we were surrounded by the painted plywood and glossy prints of two teams, blue and white, fancifully named: the blue terminators, the white pirates, the blue gym rats, the white robocops. It was very much like the Romans and the Galatians, if your memory of Pittsburgh goes back that far. The shields bore the names of kids and their sponsors, a date, and occasionally depicted a college logo. Some colors stood out more than others. Blue and white were featured prominently, but there were many details, lines or dots or patterns that covered the rest of the spectrum. However, all of them had the initials WB, for Winadu Brothers. I got the sense that time at camp moved in a discrete fashion, jumping from person to person in multiyear blocks of memories of late nights, friendly competition, and fraternity.
The summer camp is an archetypal American setting, a place so suffused with nostalgia that it becomes a place out of time. It is a closed system, an adolescent Las Vegas: what happens at camp stays at camp. While university might be a space that’s focused on intellectual meditation, a summer sports camp of the kind I visited presents the opportunity for physical meditation – to move through space, to examine it, to transform it and be transformed by it, without the vicissitudes of change over time – absent in most other settings.
It is late, so please forgive my rambling. It seems to me that a camp is a setting lush with possibility for a story.