Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Camp Juniper Knoll, II

Every time I think I know just how useful the internet is, or just how worthwhile blogging is, I have yet another more amazing experience that makes me realize how barely I have scratched the surface.

Last summer, I wrote an entry about my beloved Girl Scout Summer Camp, Juniper Knoll. I was reminiscing about camp, about how much I miss getting ready every summer to head off to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, for 8 weeks of the good life. It happens to me every summer -- I wish I were 10 years old and at camp again. Well, that blog entry caught the eye of another woman who also counts her Juniper Knoll experiences as a very part of who she is, and it turns out we knew each other back then. I'd given up on figuring out how to connect with anyone from those days, but she found me. We're catching up, sharing memories, and for my part anyway feeling gratified to know that there's someone else out there who understands, who shares the connection. I'm working on scanning some of the old photos I found and plan a few entries to get them up here. Maybe a few more people will be out there, who one day will do a search on Camp Juniper Knoll and will find me, too.

I had an ancient (I mean even THEN it was ancient) Kodak camera that used 126 film, and the pace at which you squeezed the shutter down controlled the exposure. No ability to focus, of course. And my own abilities to frame a photo were amazingly poor. But these old photos (brought back to life via the "color restoration" option on my Epson scanner) still bring back memories of a place so wonderful that you probably wouldn't even believe it unless you'd been there. I learned to swim in this lake, and to sail and to canoe and to row a row boat. Had lunches of graham crackers spread with frosting (Pooh food!) and tried merrily, unsuccessfully, to fish.
I'm on the right in this picture and it was actually 1974 -- Colorado was making what would be an unsuccessful bid for the Olympics. I think the other girl's name was Laura, and we were on our way back from walking to a nearby town for ice cream and soda. Still have the watch but Timex refused to fix it....
An early trip to camp, evidenced by the lack of a real sleeping bag and the million year old brown suitcase. There was a huge (to me, anyway) drop off the back of this tent (set on a wooden platform) but I can't remember -- was it in Citadel? I don't think it was Frontier. Definitely not Gypsy Hollow. Maybe Wilderness? The camp was organized into units, or separate named areas and you really bonded with your group and your leaders -- singing your unit's song at the top of your lungs, at the drop of a hat.
Do you know where you were July 4, 1976? I was at camp, of course -- the one here with the peace sign on my shirt. Camp always meant at least one homegrown parade, one wacky celebration, and we came up with our costumes and games on our own. Making a great deal of fun out of practically nothing was a hallmark.

I believe that options are limitless, and that it is only your own choices that create the barriers. I believe that I can -- you know, within reason -- do just about anything that I make up my mind to do. I'm not afraid of bugs, I like to walk in the rain, I think it's important to sing whether you have a "good" voice or not. I love to sleep outside, to look at the stars, to wonder what a plant's name might be, to make a campfire and roast marshmallows over it. I try to imagine how I would have turned out without Juniper Knoll; it's like being able to see my own Bedford Falls transformation into Pottersville for the lack of George Bailey. I can't imagine myself without summer camp.

6 comments:

Natalie said...

This is wonderful!
I love that you reconnected with a fellow camper and I love that you have such amazing and gratifying memories of camp. However old your camera... these photos are priceless... such a trip back in time!

SueJ said...

I am a JK camp alum too! I was there in the late 60's to very early 70's. Those are some of my best memories from my childhood! I have just recently reconnected with someone that was with me in Shongela in 1966 (thanks to facebook!)!! I am still searching for another friend from those days. We lost touch around the time I started high school. I have found out that she went on to be on staff at JK. Any chance you knew a counselor named Fire or Feather? As a camper, her camp name was Boy. She had red hair and was a fun, interesting, free-spirited girl!
I am still searching for my pictures from JK. I know I have some, but they must be buried somewhere in my storeroom!! I hope you still check in on this blog once in awhile to see my comment!
-Sue.

Jennifer said...

Sue -- your comment doesn't have profile/contact info so I can't reply to you directly; this is still my active blog. There's a group of us on Facebook, under Camp Juniper Knoll Alums. Yes, I knew Feather, and am in touch with a bunch of other alums (on FB) who knew her. She seems to have disappeared a number of years ago -- even people who were close to her don't know what happened, unfortunately.

Trina said...

I just signed my 10 year old daughter up for 2 weeks of camp at Juniper Knolls. I was searching the internet looking for pictures of the camp and stumbled upon your blog. Reading your blog about the camp affirmed to me that is was a great choice! I hope she has wonderful memories of camp also. P.S. I think I was your age in 1976 abd wish I attended girl scout camp. I did go camping in the boundry waters for 3 summers in high school so all was not lost. I agree camping builds character, Good luck finding fellow campers

Old Scout said...

I found your blog searching for pictures of Juniper Knoll because my granddaughters are going with their Brownie troop and I was curious. I went to summer camp in 1960 and 1961. I have such fond memories. I was in the Wilderness unit and have had a lifelong relationship with water (swimming and boating) because of Juniper Knoll.
I stayed in Scouting through high school and met my Eagle Scout husband in scouting. I am 67 years old and have had rich experiences and have traveled extensively. My experiences at Juniper Knoll are probably my fondest. They helped form who I am. My daughter is the girls's leader and wants me to join them next year.

Penny said...

I too am a Juniper Knoll alum. I went there in the early 50s for five years. I sing the Wilderness unit song to myself, but I am not sure if I remember all the words. If anyone knowing them could post them I sure would appreciate it.
I was in scouts from Brownies through high school and then became a leader...even had my youngest sister in my Brownie troop.
Penny