Memories of Summer Camp

During this unbearably hot summer, I keep dreaming of my camp days, wonderful, exciting, and challenging days at a place called The Elms Camp for Girls on Keuka Lake. The camp no longer exists, I’m sad to say, but many of the buildings are still there, converted into summer homes that still whisper of songs sung after yummy meals capped with favorite desserts such as homemade puddings and pies. And of course there was the infamous “Bug Juice”: nothing quenched quite like this mysterious conglomeration of fruit-flavored liquids.

Last summer many of us gathered for a reunion and tour of our beloved camp. Magically we stepped through the boundaries of space and time to find ourselves in a dimension where we were delightfully drowned in an onslaught of memories brought to us by ghosts of summers past.

We yakked about the canoe trip down the length of the lake when we got caught in a vicious thunderstorm and had to be rescued by Mr. George, camp owner, in his classic wooden Cris-Craft. How embarrassed we were pulling into camp, all strung together in a long lineup of canoes, looking like human drips. We reminisced about the campfire circle led by Mr. Randall, our tough as nails swim team coach with a subtle gentleness that made us all feel loved. We sang, we played games, and we pondered the meaning of camp life. We laughed about our sailing exploits – coming towards the buoys with our beloved K-boats way too fast, unable to come about to tie up properly, and landing on shore to the chagrin of our counselors. We chatted about water skiing, being mortified as handsome Butch held us as we attempted to get on skis for the first time, or smashing into rough waves, having water shoot up various orifices in our bodies and needing to get to a bathroom — FAST!

The Pagoda on the Point
Finally — the pagoda! This was the enchanted place of the entire camp, the place where we went to watch sunsets and fireflies, the place we went to cry after an argument with a bunk-mate, or a reprimand from one of the counselors on whom we had a terrific crush. It sat stalwart on the very tip of the point that extended out into the lake, a landmark for sailors and boaters all along the lake shore. I was afraid it wouldn’t be there anymore. I was afraid it fell victim to storms, floods, or human hands of destruction. But it was there. I ran to it, alone, to ponder the past and celebrate the present.

So many wonderful memories I could write a book. Perhaps I shall. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of a day gone past but kept current and alive in the minds and hearts of over 100 former campers of The Elms Camp For Girls.

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Canoe Trip
The K-Boats Moored
Camp Logo on Coveted Sweatshirt
All Campers

Guest Blogger John O’Connor

I feel so lucky to have been contacted by John O’Connor who has submitted this well-written and compelling article about hearing loss. Do enjoy!

Preventing Hearing Loss Through Healthy Lifestyles

Some people experience hearing loss from listening to their iPods and MP3 players. Some people know that listening to these players can make them develop hearing loss, but few of them are doing anything about it. Some teens who are advised to turn down the volume on their players, do what teens do — actually turn the volume up!

A study conducted at Colorado University and Children’s Hospital in Boston followed 30 iPod users. Unsurprisingly, they discovered that teens play their music much louder than adults. They also found that most teens were not aware of how loud their music actually was. They do not appear to understand the risk they are placing themselves in regarding potential hearing loss.

It has been shown that listening to ear buds for an hour and a half daily at 80 percent volume is likely safe for long term hearing. However, softer is better. You can, for example, listen safely at only 70 percent volume for four and a half hours daily. According to the study, the risk of hearing damage can rise with as little as five minutes of music exposure at high volume. This level of noise can damage the tiny, delicate hairs inside the ears that translate sound waves into brain signals that emerge as sound.

Adding to the risk of hearing damage that may lead to hearing aids is the fact that today’s batteries allow people to listen to music for greater lengths of time than before. In fact, batteries can play music for 15 hours or longer for many players.

The good news is that most music listeners do not listen to their players at full volume. Only 7-24 percent are listening at levels considered risky. The danger depends upon how high the volume is and for how long.

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent hearing loss and avert age-related hearing loss that steadily grows worse. One thing you can do is be sure your ears are protected in your workplace. The workplace is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Loud equipment combined with little or no protection can damage tiny hairs in the inner ear and lead to progressive hearing loss.

There are earmuffs that are specially designed to dampen sound or prevent it from reaching the ears altogether. They can attenuate sound or bring it down to a safe level. These earmuffs are made of various materials, like foam or metal. They may contain things like gel to effectively disrupt sound before it reaches the ear and has a chance to do damage to hearing.

Be sure to have your hearing testing if you suspect hearing loss or are concerned you may suffer hearing loss in the future. Your doctor will be able to diagnosis the problem and give you various solutions to protect your hearing or may even suggest the use of hearing aids.  This also will allow doctors to establish a baseline of hearing for you. Then, if there is a deviation from that baseline in the future, you will know some hearing loss has occurred and be able to take preventative measures.

Crayons, Coloring Books, and Maps

It’s no problem to figure out the link between crayons and coloring books, but how do maps fit in?

“My father would call what I was doing ‘coloring maps.’ That was what he called it when I filled in time and wasted effort, in his view, by taking lots of trouble to do something wholly unessential, as when I had colored maps in high school for geography, feathering blue round the shorelines and shading in valleys and hills. But he always said it fondly, as though he knew and understood that there were times when what the brain most needed was to simply color maps.”

This passage from the book I am reading now, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley came at me like a Mac truck in heat, finally legitimizing the box of Crayolas, 64 count no less, I’ve been harboring for the last year. Summer in my childhood was coloring time. I used to sit on the front lawn, under the shady elm tree, coloring book in my lap, crayons in my stubby-little fingers. I remember how my mind would get lost in the colors in the box and the need to pick out the absolutely perfect ones, the challenge of ‘staying in the lines’ (I was never as good as Stacy Fidler at that), and  the pride engendered by the finished product.

Coloring like that was a process that was pure Zen. I lost myself, totally. I stuck my tongue out, unconsciously, I hummed nursery rhymes, unintentionally. Coloring was about being and it was really cool and vibrant!

My 62-count box of Crayolas is now anxious to be dusted off, opened, and used. Or, shall I say, my brain is anxious for me to dust off my 62-count, find a map, and start coloring.

Anyone care to join me?

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