When I was a kid, the last day of camp was filled with tears and smiles. My Mom would pick me up and I would not stop talking the entire way home. When I was in college, the tears and smiles were still there, but I drove myself home in a daze. I was exhausted, dirty, excited for another school year, depressed at having to leave my camp friends, and happy about the memories all at the same time.

Yesterday, while waiting outside the arts and crafts building at camp for the tie-dye t-shirts to dry, I was having a conversation with some friends about their kids and how it was so cute that the kids were in tears at the end of their summer camp session and how they had to be dragged away to go home. We then realized that we used to do the same thing. Even as adults, heading out the gates of Camp Tockwogh on the Chesapeake Bay was a difficult thing to do.

I’ve been home a few hours now after spending just a long weekend there and I can’t stop thinking about how much I miss my friends and how much fun it was. It really doesn’t matter how old you are, those feelings never go away. It’s family camp now at Tockwogh. The group I stayed with was quite eclectic. Some of us are single, others married, some have kids, and some don’t. It doesn’t matter though. Family is what you make of it. And we are a family. That cabin was full because we have such a strong bond that we have to see each other and spend time together whenever we can. (The sailing, tether ball, and archery may have something to do with it but I’m pretty sure we could get by with just conversation, Amy’s battery powered blender, and Jack’s light display.)

I keep wondering what is it about that place called Tockwogh. Is there some kind of weird drug that grows in the grass and trees that infects anyone who spends time there? It could be something in the grilled cheeses—a famous meal that we all make our plans around for some reason. Seriously, who else but Tockwogh folks would change dinner plans, a day off, or the time they come home to collect the dog (my bad), just because it’s the “grilled cheese” lunch?

I was there for four days and spent time with friends I’ve known for 20 years and with others I just met this weekend. In both cases, I can say I’ve strained several ligaments and muscles in my abdominal wall with all the laughing. (The Kiwi “ringleader” story was particularly funny and should you ever wish to become part of the Tockwogh Giggle Loop, we’ll tell it to you.) It really is hard to explain the bonds and the strength of the friendships that are made there. I know some people who have attended other camps get it and I hope that some of you reading this will visit Tockwogh and become part of our family.

Thanks to Amy, Jack, Wendy and kids, Liz and Regan, Abby, Andy, Steve, Mike and Mathew, the “urban sprawl crowd”, the “girls village crowd”, Jen and Bill, Michelle and Dan, Beth and Eric, Nadine, and the staff. I didn’t cry this time—but only because I know from experience that we’ll see each other again soon. Okay, maybe just a few tears of thanks for having such great friends. And I’d like to give a shout out to the next door neighbors in Hopi cabin who I did not meet but had to live with us crazy people and did so in tolerant silence.

I’m off to wash off the dirt that has permeated every pore, bandage the wounds, and sleep in a bed that can actually fit me, and enjoy the fact that I have a bathroom close by that does not threaten to host a snake in its rafters. But before I go I just want to say thanks to the staff. Especially those boys from down under who have those great accents. And the way they talked was nice, too. May you have great wind for sailing, smooth glass for water skiing, sun for warmth, and ice to keep the beer cold.

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