Recently, I came across this website which contained recent prohotogaphs of Beechwood State Park. While the photos were beautiful, for me, they were particularly hauting and served as a reminder of a bygone era. This past Saturday, I picked my son up from summer camp, which brought back fond memories of my own camp experience--at Camp Beechwood. While the current landscape depicts decay; I can only look at the pictures and associate them with great experiences. The now rotting swimming pool once played host to endless games of Marco Polo and it was where I would meet my fellow polar bear club members for our pre-breakfast swims. I can still envision the sign-in/sign-out board emblazoned with painted red washers. The now-empty dining hall, which was across the road from the nurses cabin, still echoes with 100+ girls singing grace and laughing over bug juice served in aluminum pitchers. As a camper, I felt as if I had won the lottery when I was placed at Eastwood (the camp site with the lean-to's); although smaller than the canvas covered platorms, the leam-tos were very cool. I remember skits by the campfire, cleaning laterns with newspaper and using the latrines. During the 1970's and 80's when I attended camp, there was limited electricity in each campsite and no flush toilets. Each campsite had a drinking fountain/water spiggot near the center of the campsite and a galvanized steel sink at the latrines which looked more like a giant tray. We also had sleepovers in the pines where you could fall asleep counting the seemingly millions of visible stars. Although it appears to have been reclaimed by nature, there was a large fire pit near the lake, where each week we would have one large camp-wide campfire and sing classic camp and girl scout songs.
Every morning reveille and the flag raising ceremony. Every evening taps in the main field, followed by a walk back to our campsite.
When the summer was over, my girl-scout troop often camped at Beechwood as a troop. In the fall, the Camp had a different persona and it wasn't uncommon to hear the wind howling through the trees, reminding us that winter was just around the corner.
It was at Camp Beechwood where I first learned to build a fire, sail, tie knots and cook over an open fire. We made sit-upons, candles in the sandy soil, and macrame bracelets. It was also at Camp Beechwood where I learned how to live with people who weren't my family, live independently (even if for a short while), and work with others toward a common goal. Some may look at the remnants of Camp Beechwood and wonder about her past. I however, feel blessed to have shared in her magic and feel saddened that a new generation of campers doesn't even know of her existence.