Oh, Departure Day. Why does there have to be such a thing? And why does it have to be so busy that it seems impossible to have that last chat with everybody, get those last hugs and shenanigans in, and sign all the directories?
Of course we try to do all those things the day before. But there are the last workshops to go to, and packing, and Camp Cleanup, and finally, Closing Ceremony. This year, as usual, I was on the early crew departing with the buses. When that’s the case, I take down my tent and pack up my car while everyone is at their last advisee meeting so I don’t have to do it in the morning. Of course, having to drive, I need to get a good amount of sleep, so I tear myself away from the “stay up all the last-nighters” and shorten that last day even more.
Departure morning comes early and melancholy. I’m ready to be home in my own bed but also not ready to leave our community and Camp Myrtlewood. First comes helping everyone to make sure their luggage is in the right pile for the airport or Monroe Park and not mixed with those being picked up directly from camp. Meanwhile sneaking in those last hugs whenever possible. Then a quick breakfast and morning meeting. One last song before we check to see we have everyone accounted for and their travel plans correct. And then it’s off to load the luggage onto the buses and get everyone on-board. As the buses pull away, the remaining staff and the campers waiting to be picked up break into an impromptu dance party to see them off.
Once I’m in Eugene, I start ferrying staffers who were on the buses back from the airport and park to Grace’s house, where we will have our Staff de-brief and dinner. When everyone is there, we have our meeting and a sweet appreciation circle similar to what most of the campers would have done in their advisee groups: a few minutes for each staffer to be appreciated by the others for who they are and what they bring to camp and to staff. It’s so nice and heart-warming to hear. I wish I could record it so I can listen to it throughout the year when I need a pick-me-up. Finally, we have our staff dinner in Grace’s back yard, and by the end of the meal we are already starting to have to say goodbyes to some of our staffers. Over the next two days we will all start to drift back to towards our homes or our next destinations. For me, that’s up to Seattle to swap back my parent’s truck for my car and a quick visit to my son in Portland. Then loading up Memphis MINI and heading south.
I break the drive into two days this year, stopping at my favorite (sorta secret) swimming hole as usual. It’s especially nice this year as it’s 100˚ on the road.
By the next day I’m home with my partner, Amanda, and my two cats Meriadoc and D. Life is good. And so is Camp. See you next year, I hope. For now, I’ll just leave you with some more favorite photos and happenings from the session.