Thursday, September 03, 2009

Going to camp

The day after my reunion, my brother took us for a drive up into the mountains just outside Pocatello. We stopped to visit Camp Taylor, where I spent happy, happy days and weeks every summer for many years, as a Girl Scout camper and later a counselor. In those days it was called Camp Tendoy. I don't know when or why the name changed. It was a place I loved and where I felt totally at home.

There was no one there when we walked up the road. Obviously the camping season has ended. The place was deserted and picnic tables were piled up in front of the dining hall. This building was built one year, replacing an old and very decrepit lodge where we ate in the first few years I went to camp. It was a cheerful place with the light streaming in the big windows and its view of Scout Mountain. Today it is a little the worse for wear, but brings back a lot of memories.

I still remember the excitement of arriving at camp, finding the cabin to which we had been assigned and choosing our bunks. My friend, Lea, and I always wanted top bunks, so were insistent on getting to camp early. Here we are, a long time ago, staking out our top bunks in Cabin 1.

This group of cabins were pretty new when we were campers and smelled like pine and varnish. I was dismayed to find that they are now painted an obnoxious shade of green and smell of mildew and mouse. Cabin 1 as it appears today:

This cabin, up the hill, a bit away from the other cabins, and the only one with a fireplace, was old when I was a camper. I was glad to see that only the door was painted the icky green.

What hasn't changed is the peace and beauty. The pines and aspens and wildflowers. The little creek that runs through. The rustle of the breeze high in the trees and that intoxicating smell of fresh air and evergreen.

It was never a fancy camp. No pool or waterfront. No horses. But I remember it for singing and for hikes and crafts and building fires and cooking outdoors and learning the names of plants and trees and telling stories around the campfire and sharing secrets in the dark and toasting marshmallows and snuggling deep into a cozy sleeping bag and falling asleep to the sound of crickets and a hooting owl. I remember learning to play the ukelele and keeping a notebook of all the songs I learned and singing with Lea, who made, even me sound good with her beautiful harmonies.

"I know, I know, you belooooooong to soooooombody newewewew,
but tonight, you belo-ong to me..."

Me, as a teenage counselor, third from the left

I remember stars. Dizzying. Just so many stars that you could almost feel the earth spinning through the Milky Way. Misty mornings, flag ceremonies, Taps. Friends—Lea, Kathleen, Renee, Elaine, Midge, Ruthie . . . I really, mostly remember my friends and how much fun we had.


  1. What a wonderful post! You really should forward it to the people that run the camp! I'm sure they would be thrilled....even if you hate the green!

  2. gosh i remember those wash basins at Girl scout camp...and this last pic..looks like our camp...i was also a counselor there for a while...

  3. your post brings back similar memories of my childhood home !

  4. Oh, yes! Wonderful memories. I am old enough to have been your counselor, however!

  5. Anonymous7:31 PM

    This reminds me of Camp Kiwanis in the mountains outside of Walla Walla (where I spent many a happy summer day). I would be happy not to be in the bunk underneath you guys. They don't look too sturdy :-)

  6. Anonymous9:25 PM

    Wow. That was a blast from the past! I was a scout for 7 years and I too have wonderful memories of summer camp and school-year camping trips. Thanks for the trip back to Camp Whipperwill (for me). Now, encore: "My honey, I knowwww-oh-oh, by the daw-aw-aw-aw-awn, that you-oo-oo-oo-oo will be go-on-on-on-one...."

  7. Anonymous8:36 AM

    My mother was the camp nurse (Patches) for many years. I spent every summer of my childhood at Tendoy. So many memories....

  8. Anonymous8:55 AM

    I loved this place. Most of my happiest childhood memories were there. Between church camping girl scouts and being a counselor. Loved it