was my first year as a camper at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah,
I was 8 years old, and this photograph elicits
very powerful memories. The sepia tones of
the photograph are close to the color of the
waterfront on some very early mornings.
The bus would to drop us and our luggage off
right there behind the Trading Post.
While we were receiving our cabin assignments
and meeting our counselor and cabin mates,
Mr. Kading was using the old station wagon
to deliver our suitcases to the cabins. My
first counselor was Miss Arlene (Conboy),
Miss Mary (Wheeler) was Program Director and
lived in our cabin too; first cabin: Kickapoo,
first best friend: Claire McDonald. Claire's
brother Billy, was the waterfront director
at Sebago, and he was very cute, which made
Claire especially popular among the counselors.
: ) Billy eventually married Miss Julie (Igneri),
the waterfront director at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah.
I remember the sound of our shoes hitting
the wooden deck of the waterfront as we headed
toward the dining hall for meals. I remember
a few of us walked really fast along the path
from the flagpole down to the dining hall
for breakfast in order to be at the front
of the line. We needed to be at the
front because every morning there was a huge
spider web on the wooden guardrail. The web
dripped with accumulated dew and looked like
a majestic diamond necklace. The web was there
every moring, but eventually one of the campers
would reach out and swat and destroy it.
You had to be toward
the front of the line if you wanted to see
the web in all its glory.
dininghall was warm and cozy, with magnificent
views. All tables were the best tables in
the house. On one side was a view of the waterfall,
on another a view of the stream meandering
through the trees and around a bend, and on
another, Silver Lake, which on the rare occasion
included, if we were lucky, the snapping turtle,
which would pull itself out of the steamy
lake and up onto the raft. If that happened,
a combination of waterfront and nature counselors
headed out in canoes with the hope of capturing
the turtle and having the cook transform it
into a nice soup.
There were bleachers attached to the boathouse.
We would sit there while waiting to hoist
off in a boat for our rowing lessons. Miss
Elsie taught me to row in less than one session.
She taught in exactly the way required for
me to learn. When I was a senior camper and
taught rowing, I taught it exactly as Miss
Elsie had taught me. We also sat in the bleachers
for special events, like the water programs,
and occasionally vespers. Other times, if
a light rain prevented our swim, we might
sit there singing or having an impromptu talent
show while waiting out the rain.