One of the best things about being Catholic was Catholic summer camp. It was, and still is, one of the best experiences of my entire life. Kristin and I went the first year together. Catholic Camp was in the middle of the woods in Florida. But it didnt look like Florida (all sand and scrub brush and ugliness) it looked like paradise, (large oak trees, lush brush and a beautiful lake with alligators in it of course..). There were REAL monks there, with robes and weird haircuts like they were portaled straight here from another century. I didnt see any nuns, but I was pretty sure they were there somewhere. There was also a very large statue of Jesus on the cross. It was beautiful and intimidating and intricate. The first thing we did after breaking up into groups, was went to church. I was expecting ornate, structured sit, kneel, stand, pray...but the monk that had our group took us out in the woods. We sat on the ground, we prayed, but he explained to us that God was in nature and we didnt need a building to go to church. And I think that was the first time I felt God. Sitting there in a quasi-paradise. I really felt God and nature and God in nature. It was amazing.
We also went on scavanger hunts. One time we went on a hunt to find our lunch. Our group never found ours and they had to fix us PBJ really late at night because we had been wandering around the woods looking for our lunch. But it was fun.
The Catholic Camp happened to share ground with a camp called outward bound. Outward bound had all sorts of cool rope things and obtacle courses set up on the property. We were allowed to use that stuff. It was supposed to teach us team work and how to trust people. I think it worked.
One of the best memories I have is when our counselors made us draw colored tickets. There were red, blue and yellow. I got a red, Kristin got a yellow. I traded with some guy so I could be yellow too. We didnt know what they meant. We were instructed to go into the main hall where we were to eat dinner. The reds, there were about 5 of them, got a candlit meal, with massages and music and a 6 course dinner. The blues, there were about 20 of them, got a basic meal, no frills, no music, no massage, no tablecloth, but they had a table and chairs. The yellows, there were about 60 of us, got a giant bowl of rice. We had to sit on the floor and use our hands to eat the rice. This one experience shaped me almost more than any other experience in my life. At that moment I realized that there were hungary people on the earth. People that had no tables and yes, there were even people that had NO rice that would be thankful for any food they got. It was eye opening for a 14 year old that had no idea what it meant to go to bed hungry at night.
One day, when we were walking back from the lake after swimming, I saw our councelor John sitting by a tree painting. I walked over to him and started talking to him. He was a hippy probably about 25, he always wore tye dyed grateful dead shirts. He was nice. I asked him if he would paint something on my back and he did and it was so awesome. I had a big crush on him. He was way too old for me. He was cool.
The only other things I remember about camp that year were a few songs we learned, a booby prize our group won (a canoe trip down alligator alley at 2am) and a boy that kissed both me and Kristin and we got mad at each other and wouldnt talk to each other the rest of the trip.