Imagine me as an extremely shy seven-year-old spending my summers at Camp Foley which in the ’60s was all boys. I was also sandwiched between two brothers. So down the lakeshore, I went for 4 weeks to Camp Wabigoniss, for girls only!
So what does a seven-year-old remember about this first camping experience almost 50 years later?
- Being the shortest and youngest camper in camp.
- Wearing my camp uniform proudly – white T-shirts, baggy white or blue shorts, navy crew neck sweatshirt, blue jeans, and my blue bucket hat.
- Riding the white, fat mare – “Dusty”. She was so round that my legs went straight out like I was doing the splits and she had one slow speed taking us around and around that ring.
- Engraving a wooden plate and making a leather belt (found years later tucked as treasures within my mom’s things).
- Being totally embarrassed with the 8 Camp Foley sisters, in full habits, arriving in the “big green buffalo” – a bright, one of a kind green car, probably a prelude to what is now the van, to visit me!
- Muffling my face at night and crying into my pillow for the first 4 nights of camp and then crying my little eyes out when it was time to go home.
- Sitting on my bed and having girl time with my new, best friend.
- Being horrified with my fellow campers and counselors when told to eat this square of green Jell-O, nicely displayed on a leaf of lettuce and seeing the leftover vegetables suspended in this creation – lima beans, carrots, green beans, corn, etc. And the dab of mayonnaise on top!
- The handbell that would ring frequently during the meal to remind us that we were too noisy. (It was very quiet on that Jell-O day.)
- The older campers turning us “youngers” into these hideous reindeer complete with red noses, sticks as antlers on our bucket hats, and singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer at skit night.
- Being hungry at night and hiding under my covers eating toothpaste – a skill passed down from an experienced camper.
- Being a “celebrity” with the older girls who had brothers at Camp Foley and wanted to know all about the cute, male counselors and older boys at Foley. I wanted to evaporate and just be a Wabi camper!
- Kneeling on the wooden floor for the daily, Catholic Mass.
- The kindness of the director, Booty in making me feel welcome and wondering how the other director,” Inky” ever got her name.
- Knowing that I wanted to return to my rustic cabin at the point next year to be with my friends and the sadness that camp closed forever that winter with the death of Booty.
At Camp Foley, when passing by our building called the Wabi, where one of the original signs of Wabigoniss is proudly displayed, I have wonderful flashbacks. Even the Jell-O is a fabulous memory! Thank you, Mom and Dad! And from the younger Foley campers, thank you to their moms and dads also!
– Marie Schmid, Executive Director