It was the summer of my ninth year and my mom had signed me up for day
camp at a Girl Scouts camp called Shelly Ridge, just an hour outside
away from my house and dropped me off every night. The bus wasn't
actually painted blue, to my disappointment, but it had a sign in the
window that read "BLUE," printed from a computer. The bus rides to and
from camp never seemed to take that long-- I was always so excited in
the morning and so exhausted at the end of the day.
At Shelly Ridge there was always plenty to do. Besides taking hikes,
picking berries, exploring nature, arts and crafts, and playing sports
we also had a choice of which special class we wanted to take. At this
point in my life I loved swimming so I chose to focus on that. I
worked my way up from a yellow cap (beginner) to a green cap
(intermediate) and I was very proud. I can't swim for my life anymore,
but back then it was something I really wanted to conquer. At least I
can still float.
The last day of camp was a sleepover, which I was really thrilled
about. I brought my sleeping bag and picked a good spot to pitch our
tent, which I shared with a friend I made at camp. We had to assemble
the old-fashioned pole and canvas tent by ourselves. It was something
I had never done, before but it felt good to get our shelter up and
standing on our own.
The whole camp gathered together that night and we feasted on hot dogs
and hamburgers from the grill. Later on, as it got darker, we had a
campfire and roasted marshmallows to make s'mores. I gave my roasted
marshmallow (yuck, who wants to eat a burnt marshmallow skewered with
a stick found on the ground?) to a friend while I ate the Hershey bar
on its own. I've never really been a fan of marshmallows. Just
thinking about them is making my teeth hurt.
After the dessert feeding frenzy finished we sat around on our
sit-upons (a newspaper covered with a trash bag or other plastic that
you take with you in the woods so you have something dry to sit on)
and told each other spooky stories. I've always been a horror fan ever
since I was a child (I had a crush on Bela Lugosi's Dracula,
for instance, when I was four years old) and I told one of my favorite
Tell In The Dark, a favorite series of mine at the time and even now.
ghost stories that I knew by heart from the book Scary Stories To
Feeling brave despite all the creepy stories I heard that were
beginning to stir up my imagination, it was time to head back to our
tents and get some sleep. Of course before we would actually go to
sleep we would stay up for a bit in the tent and talk about the things
nine year olds talk about (Trapper Keepers, the show Family Matters,
I don't really remember what else) until we got sleepy.
I quickly passed out, but was awoken when I felt something touch my
hand. It wasn't the hand next to my friend's sleeping bag, but the
hand next to the edge of the tent. My hand was actually outside of the
tent. I pulled it back in and examined it and it looked normal enough,
but I could swear I felt something touch it. Maybe a lonely ghost in
the woods heard our fun gathering and wanted to be a part of the fun,
but got sad when all of the campers fell asleep? To this day, I do not
know what actually happened, but it is certainly one of my most
memorable summer camp memories.