Goodbye, A-Frames

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s this:
I LOVE CAMP. 

It’s kind of weird because I don’t feel like I’m outdoorsy enough to be one of those people who is ALL ABOUT SUMMER CAMP, but I am.

When I was little I was sent to Camp Arnold for the first time for a week as an angry, hurt, broken little child. Fast forward twenty summers later and I hadn’t gone a summer without spending a week at that place. It is my safe place, my sanctuary, my refuge, my shelter from the storm of life. Once I had the opportunity to talk about how camp has changed me and they asked me “where would you be if it wasn’t for camp?” and I started crying because I don’t know. My best friends have come from camp, most of my spiritual and emotional growth has come from camp.

So we have these old cabins, the A Frames. They’re old and were initially built as a temporary housing solution… like 50 years ago. They’re old but so WONDERFUL.  They are full of memories.

It’s time for them to go, though.

For the past few years people have been hinting at “when the A-Frames are torn down…” or “after the new cabins are built…” and it’s always seemed like a big hypothetical idea. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought “surely nobody would actually tear down the A Frames.”

But the time has come.

The A-Frames will soon be no more.

Today was probably the last day I will see them with my own eyes and I am heartbroken. When I walked towards them and saw all of the trees torn down and these vulnerable little cabins, I started crying.

Look, I’m overdramatic as it is… but you start messing with my summer camp and I just lose my mind. I mean, even though Sarah has been sending me pictures almost daily of the progress, I kept thinking it was all make believe, that somehow I’d walk around camp and it was all some big joke. It’s not. It looked like a freaking war zone.

There was this moment as I was standing on the porch with Mark, the camp director, peering into what was left of Sol Duc.

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I said “I bet someone once stood here and peered into this cabin when it looked like this, but they were imagining what camp would be like with these new A-Frames.”  and they NEVER could have imagined the way the cabins would change lives. Those A-Frames, at one point, were a new thing. People prayed over them as they were built and as they dreamed about how they would impact camp.

There I got to stand, one of the last people to see them standing – and one of the few people to see them gutted, which was a trip – and say goodbye to these little structures that changed my life.

I tried to think about 50 years from now. Thousands – if not TENS of thousands – of children will have slept in the new cabins. The new cabins will be home. There will be people who cry tears of joy when they first see their beloved cabin – there will be big, eternal decisions made in the new cabins. Lives will change. Memories will be made.

And it’s still Camp Arnold. Camp Arnold isn’t a series of buildings. It’s not the lake or the gym or the amphitheater or the trails. It’s not the birdwatch tower, the field, the dining hall. Camp Arnold is holy ground. The stuff on top of it might change shape every so often, but the very earth of it is precious and sacred.

I am forever grateful for whoever built those temporary cabins many years ago, because my life has changed because I got to sleep in them. I will never – ever ever ever – forget the struggle to claim a bed by the outlet or the way the counselor room light always spilled into the cabin, or how my first summer at camp my fluffy dog slippers got ruined because I stupidly wore them to the block bathroom and they got lots of camp debris in them. One day there will be 29.5 year old people like me who cannot imagine camp without the new cabins, who have spent countless nights crying and praying and laughing in the walls that are being prepared to go up in place of these other special ones.

It is such a bittersweet time for my wonderful little summer camp… and I am so glad I get to see it.

Thank you, A Frames, for all of your hospitality and your memories. You’ve been good.

In loving memory of The Pod 1 Block Bathroom, Coho, Mackinaw, Chinook, The Pod 2 Block Bathroom, Eagle, Elk, Otter, The Pod 3 Block Bathroom (who got knocked into during the tear-down and is looking especially bad today), Sol Duc, Columbia and Elwah. And eventually Mount Baker, Adams & Rainier and The Pod 4 Bathroom.

 

(These first pictures are from April 2014)

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(This is today, November 10th, 2014)

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7 Comments

  1. Donna Parkinson
    November 11, 2014 / 1:19 am

    Goodbye, A-frames. Even though it’s sad to say goodbye to you, and it’s so easy to think that Camp Arnold will never be the same again, your departure is a sign of the huge plans God has for more and more children to hear about Him by coming to spend their summer in the shadow of Mt Rainier. 🙂

  2. Dennise Fadler
    November 11, 2014 / 6:14 am

    Thank you for sharing your pictures and thoughts . So many of us started our spiritual lives as Campers at Timberlake and then Arnold. From age 7 at Jr. Soldiers Camp through the years on camp staff. Camp Arnold and these A frame cabins will forever hold a special place in my heart.

  3. November 11, 2014 / 12:15 pm

    I LOVE SUMMER CAMP, TOO! But I never went to the same place for a whole host of years. Well , one place but it doesn’t make me that nostalgic. I just love summer camp. In general. This post was beautiful. And you are super duper artsy town. I loves it. My family cottage makes me feel this way. Sigh.

  4. Ron J. Belcher
    November 11, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    Ill never forget cabin 12 I worked on maintenance from 1987 to 1990 cabin 12 was home to maintenance for three years. some told us that the a frames once had an upstairs which is where the consolers rooms were located. We cut an opening in the sealing and crawled up in the rafters, we saw names, dates and poems why back from the 70’s It always made me think, if only these walls could talk, all the stories they hold. yes they needed
    new cabins I just wish they could have saved the trees what a waste.

  5. Amy
    November 12, 2014 / 9:19 am

    Beautiful blog. You made me cry.

  6. Alexa Morris
    November 28, 2014 / 11:09 am

    This made me tear up. The part that got me was, “I bet someone once stood here and peered into this cabin when it looked like this, but they were imagining what camp would be like with these new A-Frames. and they NEVER could have imagined the way the cabins would change lives.” Thank you so much for sharing Stephanie!

    Nothing beats a cabin porch conversation 🙂

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