For many Indian Summer is a somewhat politically incorrect term for a nice, warm, and dry fall. But for others, Indian Summer has an entirely other meaning. In 1993 the movie Indian Summer was released into theatres. And for those who aren’t obsessed with it, this movie was about 30 former campers, who go back to their childhood summer camp on an island, 20 years later.
I can remember being 13 years old, watching the movie and thinking about how cool it would be to be able to go back to the place that helped shape my personality, that helped me become me. For those everyday people, who don’t understand at all, going to camp is a magical experience for kids. So much happens over the summer as you grow up, and for those of us who were lucky enough to spend it at camp, our days were filled with sailing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and making crafts, and our nights were filled with campfires, sing-a-longs, talent shows, dances and gazing at the stars.
For a lot of us, camp was the place where we had our first real kisses, our first boyfriends, and our first heartbreak. We made friendships that were based on experiences, and truly having things in common. We got to be ourselves at camp. We didn’t have to fit into our high school mould. We could put ourselves out there, make up choreographed dances, sing in front of everyone, and never feel embarrassed. We learned skills that helped set us apart from the others.
And, this past weekend myself, and about 60 other former campers (plus what seemed like about a million offspring) were able to experience our Indian Summer. Surrounded by our childhood heros (yes heros) the older counsellors who were now our peers, and our friends. We saw how many camp couples actually made it, which was incredible to see. The goofballs were still the goofballs, the loud ones were still loud, and the artsy introverted ones were still just as interesting as ever. The studs from back in the day were still just as stud-ly, but now they were dads of beautiful children, and the women were just as beautiful, smart and as successful as ever. There were doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, professionals, stay-at-home parents and those who were in the middle of making big changes. Everyone grew up to be the best versions of themselves, and I believe camp had a lot to do with it.
Memories flooded our minds and hearts consisting of out-trips, contests, musicals, dances, skits and hikes. Laughs so big it felt like we were kids again. Joking about things that seemed so major at the time, like breakups at the rock, or who used to like who. We gossiped about who hooked-up over the years and applauded those who landed the big fish from when we were kids. You could see some former flames that although were over each other still cared deeply for one another. We reminisced about sneaking out, and breaking into the kitchen to eat all the cookie-dough/ice cream. We talked about our parties that we had on our off weekends, we laughed about the things we got our campers to do, like march through the camp singing songs from The Sound of Music. Some were brave and jumped off the tower, others watched gladly from the sidelines not wanting to go into the freezing lake. We stood on benches and cheered louder than we’ve cheered before the inappropriate things we used to yell as kids “Cheers cheers to senior girls, bring on the whiskey bring on the rum.” We played. And as you get older, playing is something you do less and less of.
From the cheers, to the songs, to the campfire and the talent show that lasted too long, the weekend was perfect. Filled with familiar faces, old friends and the place that will always feel like home. Camp. The place that made us who we are and will always be a part of us all. It truly was our Indian Summer. Filled with nostalgia and hope. Hope that one day our kids will go to our camp and make the memories we did and look back as fondly at camp as we do. And hope that we’ll never lose our connection to the camp that helped build us, to the friendships that we cultivated and the confidence that we gained from being apart of something so much bigger than ourselves.