Last evening, Joyce and I were driving home through Aurora, and as we passed Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we saw some young people either heading off to or returning from camp. (Didn't pause to figure it out.) I reminded Joyce that I, as a lad, had gone to summer church camps quite a bit (my father, grandfather, uncle--all were ordained ministers, Disciples of Christ).
And for some reason, the name of the camp in Oklahoma returned to me--a name I'd not thought about in decades. Boiling Springs.
Since my memories are fading (and quickly so), I just checked Google to discover that it's a state park, built in the 1930s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), one of the agencies created by FDR to battle the Great Depression. It's a state park. In Woodward, Okla. And trusty Google Maps (see below) has informed me of its location and distance from our home in Enid (1706 E. Elm Ave.): due west of us, about 85 miles. I would have bet the house it was in the south, but that's just more evidence about why I shouldn't go around betting the house on things. I also thought it was a lot farther from Enid than it is. (But ... no freeways then. Lots of two-lane country roads.)
Next thing I don't remember: Was the church camp at the park? Or nearby? Time to check Google again ... [PAUSE FOR GOOGLE-CHECK] ... and, yes, it seems the camp is on the state park grounds (link to a map). As I look at the photos, I don't remember much about the look of the camp, though.
According to this link, there was some major renovation in 2010--check it out--some great images: LINK.
So ... all of this took place for me over sixty years ago. And what do I remember about camp? I learned that I was no good--and I mean no good--at crafts, a daily activity class that seemed to take forever each day. I recall that the lanyard I made--red and white--was pathetic. A prairie dog could have done much better. And, years later, when I read Billy Collins' poem "The Lanyard," I had a true shock of (embarrassed) recollection. (Link to Collins reading "The Lanyard.")
I remember lots of religious services (duh)--morning, evening, night. I remember being afraid of the big kids--yes, I discovered, there are Christian bullies! I remember looking at girls--chastely, chastely. I remember bad food, a loud dining hall, a cabin full of boys, an earnest counselor.
Mostly, I remember being glad to get home. Camping had always been fun with Dad on our family trips. But this, I found to my sorrow, was not like camping with Dad--or even with the Cub Scouts. It was a difference I never grew accustomed to--even later when, after we moved to Ohio in the summer of 1956, I began attending Camp Christian in Marysville, Ohio (link to website), about 150 mi sw of our Hiram home. I have some pictures I took there when I was in junior high--I'll post them with a few comments next time ...