|David Gardner sent this note and said it was OK to share with everyone.
I edited it only a bit... Bob
Hello Fellow Former Campers,
I attended my first Carbide Camp Reunion this past weekend. I just wanted to say thank you for pulling it together. While it would have been nice if more "campers" had turned out, it was nevertheless a great time. It was good seeing a few familiar faces from "my time" at camp, and making some new friends. I will certainly try to attend future reunions.
I attended Camelot as a camper from '65 through '68 and then spent a summer as a JC at Cliffside and then the final two week session at Camelot. After my first year as a JC, for a variety of reasons, I chose to pursue other summer activities and employment. My experiences and memories must certainly be the same as everyone else's. It's easy to talk of horseback overnights, campfires, archery and riflery, the silence and darkness in the Wing after "lights out", Peach Toast, or any of the many other wonderful activities while there, but it's much more difficult to express the feelings one has about Camelot or Carlisle. I find I cannot convey the meaning, the significance, the importance of my time at Camelot. For me at least, it is particularly difficult to describe how unique and special it was, and just what it meant to those of us who were fortunate enough to attend. It means so much more than can be summarized in a few paragraphs. Those who attended understand. And I imagine those who continued beyond me to become CIT's and Counselors must feel what I feel with even more passion and emotion. But I'm preaching to the choir, right?
I still have my King Arthur Award and wore it to Joey's on Friday night. I hadn't attended any previous reunions and hadn't been out to Camelot for 35 years. The visit to the former campsites on Saturday was somewhat cathartic for me, personally. I needed to see. I wanted to see. I had prepared myself for what I knew was (not) there. When I came upon the creek crossing into Camelot, I recognized it immediately. Unfortunately, that is about all that looks the same. And despite my mental preparation, upon arrival at Camelot I can only describe my feeling as one of disbelief. It was followed by a wave of sadness as I stood there, looking at a pile of lumber and a gas well where Camelot's Castle and Wings once stood. I managed to choke back the tears. But even though the structures are long gone, Camelot and Carlisle live on in us. Many life lessons and character-developing experiences happened and took root while at camp - you just don't realize it at the time. As a camper, and surely for those who continued in the program as a staff member, one only feels the fun and enjoyment of the experience at the time. It's usually not until much later in life you come to realize that some of your beliefs, traits, values and character were formed from experiences and lessons learned while at Camelot or Carlisle. The experience helped make us who we are today. That's the living legacy of Camelot and Carlisle.
As I drove back home to Cleveland on Sunday, the disbelief and sadness had gone. It was replaced by a sense of calm and happiness from socializing with old friends and campers on Friday evening, but moreover from spending Saturday on the creek. I'll go back again, sometime. And while I may still get a little of that feeling of disbelief and sadness, it won't last. Knowing what happened in that special place so long ago is what matters.
Thanks again --keep the flame burning!