Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Campfire Songs

As we age we obsess over turning back the clock and how we want to be remembered.

When I die I want to be cremated and have my ashes scattered over the Pisgah National Forest in Asheville, North Carolina. Because, nestled in Asheville is a place that defines how I want to be remembered.

Camp Kahdalea.

It is camp. In every sense of the idyllic, stereotypical, movie set way. And to a latch key, kid who made friends sparingly it was heaven.

I found my childhood soul mate in the form of rolling green hills and frolicking horses and wooden gazebos.

Over the years I was a camper, a junior counselor and a counselor at Kahdalea. Originally founded in 1962 by Julie and Monty Oates, my first taste of Kahdalea came tinged with the sweet southern caress of the strong, South Carolinian hand of Julie Oates – we learned riflery and we had nut cups at the end of summer banquet.

Nut cups. It was sublime.

(I later taught riflery as a counselor...yep, that was kinda cool.)

Although Kahdalea was sold, during my time there, I still believe the current owners understood then (and still do) what Kahdalea is and I plan to make sure Baby C gets to experience it.

What is “it”?

It is not a memory, not the time the horse bit my leg open while I was teaching riding, not a particular friend, not learning how to rock climb, not Slippery Rock or Ghost Town Amusement Park, or seven 10’s in cabin inspection worth of Biltmore ice cream or Christmas in July.

My second to last summer as a camper I was tapped to be an Honor Camper. Girls are selected based on a specific trait that they have exhibited in an exemplary fashion throughout the camp term.

A handful of girl’s each summer are chosen to wear the silver K on their green kerchiefs, sit on the Honor Council and lead Friday night campfires every week.

I confess I am not sure today, where my silver K and kerchief are stored.

But I do remember the characteristic for which I was tapped.


(Some of you can stop laughing now.)

I am 37 years old. I was tapped to be an Honor Camper when I was 14.

Twenty-three years later I still cringe when I realize I have engaged in undependable behavior.

For every unreturned email, lapsed thank you note, plan cancelled - I feel it in my gut that I am letting a third party down – Kahdalea. And frankly, that kills me a bit more than the impact on the poor soul I have just blown off (without meaning too!).

I confess that I believe I have not lived up to the expectation – the strength - that others saw in me.

And those of you, who know me well, know that I try. I really do. But dependability is not necessarily in my top three attributes.

So that is the “it”.

One thing. One silly camp ritual. One major impact on a young girl.

In this day and age of botox and cleansing diets and pilates and all such forms of regaining or clinging to youth there is only one thing I regret about aging.

That I have lost that which made me stand out among others; that made others have faith in me.

So with every pilates hundred to wear last year’s size jeans, I will work to gain back the right to wear my silver K.

The nude shoe is "it" this spring and summer. I am in love with the Nine West Gleamy heeled sandal in Natural Leather. Wear it with shorts, cargo pants, jeans, or sassy sundresses.


  1. You are dependable in all of the most important ways. We all have times when we are not the best friends that we can be. Our friends know and understand this.

    I loved this post. Makes me wish that I gave camp a real try and didn't beg my parents (and for them to acquiesce to their hysterical daughter) to let me come home after the first week.

  2. I found this post while googling for Monty and Julie Oates - I was a Kahdalea camper for many years in the 1980's and this summer I drove my girls up there for the first time and it brought back a flood of happy memories. Anyway, I love this post and I love how you captured much of what Kahdalea was about for all of us, though unlike you I can't remember what I got my "K" for!!!