My family of birth was not campers. My Mom was not game for an outing that did not including shopping, lipstick and a curling iron. But Mom willingly cut a check for my older sister and I to attend Camp Sacajawea. A camp run by the Girl Scouts of America in northern Wisconsin. A place full of adventure and magic. A place that taught me to love the call of loons as they glide across the surface of a quiet lake. Sacajawea’s influence still apparent, fifty years later, in the woman I am today. How fitting a camp named for a young girl who led Lewis and Clark west across the northern plains, would guide my journey as well.
To this day I love the smell of a campfire, a scent more pleasing to me than the most expensive perfume found anywhere on this planet. I learned to love the camaraderie of females young and older. Strong girls confident in their abilities to bond, build, and be brave in the challenges a northern Wisconsin summer could conjure. I feel a sense of pride that I can still recall when necessary, how to lash together knots, simple and complex.
My daughter is an alumnus of Camp Ojiketa. There my baby—a proud member of the Beaver Brigade–learned lessons she needed to know to answer the call of the wild; the invitation of life to leave the familiar, to travel down roads unknown.
Our love of camping has served us well! Even in times when the years between us seemed too vast to breach, we could still meet across a campfire, mother to daughter, girl to girl. My baby has a baby, Elinore Susan. Her middle name honors me. She is four months old. I don’t have memories of my mother gathering wood to build a fire, catching fireflies in a meadow at dusk, roasting marshmallows oozing with goo. My kids do. It was always pretty much a good bet that I would never be remembered for well-mannered hair.