Archive for August, 2009

Squam Lake, New Hampshire

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Quintessential Squam

Quintessential Squam

One of my favorite spots on planet earth is Squam Lake, New Hampshire.  Our family had a beautiful spot in Squaw Cove, way out in the quietest end of this already marvelously untouched lake.  Many of my childhood summer days were spent up at the lake.  Far from the drum beat of the rat race life, there were only three types of days at Squam: lake days (if it was hot and muggy), mountain days (if it was cooler and clear), and cabin days (if it was raining).  We cooked on a large, wood-fired, cast iron stove, played games around the huge dining table, read books in the alcoves by the fireplace, made “forts” in the loft, slept safely from the “wood bumpies” in our individual cabins, always swam before breakfast, sat wrapped in our towels in the warmth of the morning sun while Grandma brought wild blueberry pancakes down the path for breakfast on the dock, paddled the canoe out to Yard Islands, sailed out to the main lake, jumped off the diving rock in Rattlesnake Cove, played with cousins and friends in the woods, bicycled on the dirt roads, played on the deck til our hair turned blonde and our backs turned brown, earned our right to shed our life vests by swimming unaided across the cove, engaged in forever fascinating conversations with well-traveled, well-read family, listened to the hauntingly beautiful cries of the loon, and found ourselves all-too-quickly passing from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.

You could hardly ask for a better setting to romp as a child, yet I found my appreciation for this magical place only matured as I saw it slip away. (more…)

Au Revoir, France et Mes Amis!

Saturday, August 1st, 2009
Final Afternoon

Final Afternoon

Thursday was our big sortie, an all-day trip to Walibi, one of France’s few amusement parks.  The announcement the night before was met with enthusiasm and excitement.  I heard that Walibi was quite the destination, though after being to quite a few parks in the states, I had my doubts.  A very large chartered bus arrived on the campground around mid-morning.  After some wide-eyed maneuvering we finally got the bus turned around, and we were on our way down the single-lane country roads.  We exchanged riddles and sang as a rolling patchwork of sunflowers, corn, and wheat whisked by.

My expectations for Walibi were rather dead-on.  The parks biggest, scariest attraction was called Boomerang, a simple, dead-end rollercoaster that brought you forward and then backwards through a triple-loop.  Runner-up was the swinging pirate ship and another spinning ride.  The only other rollercoaster was a small, single-car ride, but it was closed all day.  Perhaps it resembled a train too much and the workers decided to go on strike…  Other than that, the rest of the rides were rather tame and the park had a mostly home-made feel to it.  Still, the kids (teens included) seemed to really like the place.  I mostly kept my mouth shut about the grander attractions we have in America, but I thought about how fun it would be to drop this group of kids into the middle of Islands of Adventure just to watch their reaction.

Friday evening was the banquet, an institution at each camp.  The theme this year was Americana, and the kids spent most of the day in preparation.  The dining hall was thoroughly decorated in reds, whites, and blues, posters with American landmarks were put up on the walls, and each table was themed for a different state.

Everybody participated in one way or another.  My contribution was primarily with all the special music featured during the evening.  I practiced songs with a couple of choral groups, instrumentalists, ensembles, and soloists.  One 14-year-old girl, Clara, had been (more…)