Tuesday, June 9, 2009


*Angel statue in Le Coeur ('the heart') of Camp Ondessonk. She stands up in front of the turtle pond. She's beautiful, and I want to bring her home with me*

*Heepwah: incredibly versatile word. Indian (sorry, Native American) word meaning 'all is good,' 'congratulations,' 'I agree,' 'fantastic,' and all other words that express positivity. Can be used in place of clapping*

So...as you know, I'm back from Camp. Realist and I spent twelve glorious hours in the place where I felt most at home apart from Oma's. You'll have to bear with me. Thinking about Camp makes me want to cry because I'm not there.

Does that sound weird to anyone else? Probably, but if you've never experienced Camp Ondessonk, you can't understand it. I spent one week there ever summer from the time I was eleven (summer after fifth grade) until I was fifteen (fifth year camper), and then two summers after that (four weeks in my first summer during Girls Camp, and seven weeks my second summer in Girls and Coed Camp).

Attending a Catholic grade school (St. Cabrini in Springfield), we got to hear about Camp from a couple of its full-time, year-round staff (C, Gene made the 'Goupil's got 10,000 steps to the top' comment at the reunion!), and we (Colleen and I) just had to go. First year, Andrea went with us; second year, my cousin Erin went with us, and then, it was just Colleen and I (see a pattern here?). I was inducted into the Lodge of Tekakwitha our third year. We were in the flagship year of Specialty Camp (it's Adventure Camp now - Horsemanship was the best!) our fourth year. Our fifth year, our whole unit looked up to us - we were the ones who'd been there forever.

For three summers, we were in Lalemant (Orange Crush!). Fourth, for S.C., we were in Daniel (say: Dahn-e-el, not Dan-yil), and fifth - we just had to stay in Daniel again :) Waking up to Reville; hiking, canoeing and boating, horseback riding, archery and riflery, handicrafts, swimming and woodsmanship during the day (all broken up, of course - not enough hours in the day to do all of that!); and bunking down to the faint strains of Taps

Sunday: Arrival! Heepwah! Opening Campfire

Monday: Unit Campfire - see if a unit across the lake can hear you yell!

Tuesday: Night Game - for us, it was Espionage (what Spies and Secret Agents had to do with camping, I don't think we'll ever know) - na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, we're the Spies!

Wednesday: Unit Overnight - got to camp out under the stars, have foil burgers (C, we still do them every time we go camping!), and vote a couple of people from your unit into Lodge.

Thursday: Lodge Ceremony - one of the best nights; watch Indian (sorry, Native American...) dances, big bonfire, and Secret Circle (if you were being inducted).

Friday: Closing Campfire and skits - the night everyone swore they'd be Camp buddies forever. Some stayed, some didn't, but the memories will always be there.

Saturday: dumb parents had to come pick us up...you know, I always wished they'd forget me there and I'd get to stay all summer.

This past Saturday wasn't much of an exception. C, remember getting to Camp our first year waaaay early and having to sit in the car, wating for the gates to open? Yeah...we only got there about fifteen minutes early on Saturday :). We had lunch (ran into Trish B!), and set out. We headed up to Archery where Realist got to shoot a bow and arrow...and he's quite good. Hiked around; showed him Lalande, Goupil, Chabanel (cave unit), Lalemant, Brebeuf, and Tekakwitha; took him over Amantacha Bridge (poor guy - he doesn't like driving over bridges. He almost lost it walking over this one {didn't help that it's a 'swinging' bridge}), went down on the Spillway (got some good pictures), ran into Becky Becky B and Tim B (her brother). Came back to Le Coeur for the Dedication. There's now a rock monument - just a slab, really - that has this:

"Celebrating 50 Years of Camp Spirit!
This stone stands in tribute to all of the campers, staff and volunteers who have lived and shared the spirit of Camp Ondessonk.
Where God's creation sings to the soul."

I teared up; the Bishop blessed it with holy water and a leafy tree stick; and we walked down to the Grotto for Mass. Don't get me wrong, I can handle Mass with the best of them. Bishop (yeah, sad to say, I really didn't catch his name, and he doesn't strike me as a very friendly type...) - big goofy hat and all - was just very monotone. Trekked up past Tek to the new dining hall. It's NICE - still got the colored lights for the hoppers, though! Think they might have just moved them from the old DH! Got to sing the Camp song as we left, so that was fabulous! Trekked back down to the Grotto for Closing Campfire (probably walked 10 miles or so that day).

There were reminiscences from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s (I wasn't in on that one - I don't think I was there long enough for anyone to remember me...boo), and the 2000s (zeroes? aughts? oh-ohs? That was all Dan King...I've even got a picture of that man when he was younger with his shirt off!). Steve H (yes, yes, I am Heve Stutch!) told a good story. We sang silly songs - Yellow Ribbon, MTA (didn't know this one), Muscle in the Arm, Little Bunny Foo Foo, Three Jolly Fishermen (Mr. Dan King messed this one up!), and Realist loved the Penguin Company song (remind me to teach it to you all some time). There were three closing songs - Camp Ondessonk (to the tune of O Christmas Tree), and As The Embers Die Away...and the Echo 'Our Father.' This one made me cry like it did fourteen years ago. I've never been able to finish that song. And we were gone.

I lied. C, I didn't make it up to Hog's Bluff or Pakentuck (damn the time constraints), nor did I get to stargaze in the parking lot (didn't want to get runned over by leaving alumni).

I did, however, lie in the middle of Le Coeur in the dark, Realist sitting on the stones in front of the turtle pond, and tried my hardest not to let tears drip into my ears.

Realist understood. He said had he been here as a kid, he's pretty sure he'd feel the same way I do. I'm going to find a way to volunteer there for a week every summer, if I can.

God, I miss Camp O.

If you'll excuse me, I've got to go blow my nose.

Have fun, and be safe out there, and HEEPWAH!
Mrs. Dreamer

Peace, Love, and Ondessonk
~~on my new tie-dyed Camp shirt

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Be safe out there.