From a Dusty Box

This week I determined to look through some old poems and stories I wrote as a teenager, and I found the following poem I wrote as an assignment in high school. The writing prompt was “favorite place”, and I just think it’s awesome that one of our summer camps made it into such a category (at least in my own life). So, I thought I’d share it!

Favorite Place: Came Heritage

The gravel murmured under our tires,
heavy from Barbie backpacks
and sleeping bags,
curling irons and make-up cases,
and chattering kids with smiling faces,
weighing down the rusty van.

We were always late–
would move into our cabins
and say our good-byes, and kiss our moms,
just as young squealing voices
made their way up the hill, already wet with lake water.

Heart Attack Hill, sweeping down
the side of the earth
meeting the blue waves below,
always put me out of breath.
But every time, on Saturday night,
after the long passion play–
after Jesus cried in the garden,
after He died on the cross,
when the campers’ tears stopped
and the lights came on again–
we would run that hill.

Saturday night was our good-bye–
to being thrown off the jet skis by the cutest
boy in the entire world, so
grown up, but who was actually a child himself.
It was our good-bye to the canoes, and getting stuck
in the middle of the lake because
we were trading secrets during
paddle instructions;
it was good-bye to the ski boats
from which I was dragged, clumsily through the water on my belly,
until that day I finally stood, cutting a path on the smooth surface
and felt like a queen for those 15 seconds;
it was good-bye to the blue, clear sky,
and calm, cool breezes
pushing us up that hill every time.

We would run into the lodge, colliding into plastic chairs
that seemed to shrink each year,
eat dinner with our best friends, whom we’d just met,
and exchange autograph books,
and numbers,
and email addresses,
and pinky promise we’d never lose touch.

We would collapse into bunk beds that last night
exhausted from the heart attack
of Heart Attack Hill,
and we’d drift to sleep listening to Veggie Tales,
Adventures in Odyssey, or Steven Curtis Chapman on a cassette player
the way we did all week after lunch.

We’d sometimes whisper secrets into the darkness
until we were lost in dreams.

When we woke we packed, and we missed Mom
and we missed our cat
and maybe even our brothers,
but a part of us wanted to stay at Camp Heritage