Just the other day, I met with two of my old “camp friends.” When we were all about 9 years old, we went to Girl Scout camp together each summer until we were all about 13. When we first met, we scoped each other out as kids do; deciding who might like the same things we liked, and so on.
For me, it was the first time I’d been away from home for more than a day or two; that alone was exciting. When we all arrived at camp, and tearfully bade our parents goodbye, we were asked to come up with nicknames for ourselves. Looking back on it now, I realize that that was not only a great distraction (as our parents quietly left after many hugs and kisses), but a lot of fun.
Now all my life I have hated spiders. Everything about them gives me the heebie-jeebies—-the way they scuttle so quickly, the way they will all of a sudden appear, dangling down on their silk, and their strangely alien look. To this day, I can’t sleep if I know there’s a spider in the house–anywhere.
So, when the kindly young and pretty counselor asked me what my nickname was, I blurted out, “Spider!” Go figure why. But every day since then at camp that was my handle.
I loved everything about camp: being ‘on my own’ for two weeks, sleeping in a big canvas tent with three other girls, having campfire stories and songs, hiking, biking, making things, swimming, sailing, canoeing, playing games, and so on. But best of all, I liked making new friends.
The two I liked the most were Kathy and Lissa. Kathy had long rippling light brown hair, and let me brush it now and then. As I always had had short hair, I was in awe of all that long hair. Lissa had a head full of shining curls, and was giggly. Both of them became fast friends to me all those years ago at camp, and when I am with them these days, I can still see the little girls we once were.
Now that we are all grandmothers together, it is both strange and wonderful to know that we have kept the thread of friendship for so long. Our lives have all gone in different directions, and taken us many places. We have experienced joy and sorrow, gain and loss, ups and downs, health issues and dreams for our children and grandchildren.
Our jokes and stories are different now, seasoned with age and experience. But when I see these two old camp friends of mine, I am a happy adventurous child nicknamed “Spider” again.