Chapter 2: Summer Camp

July 20, 2011    » posted by: charlieredd

So where does a good Southern boy go to summer camp? Cooperstown NY, of course. No, not a baseball prodigy.I was scared of the ball. Beaver Cross was an Episcopal church camp run by the diocese of Albany that is within driving distance of my Oma's summer house in the Adirondacks where we would spend the summer. As I left the Outback with little ambitions for the summer I contacted Deacon Betty and she hired me as kitchen help for the summer. I got room and board, some scratch at the end of the summer, and got to be STAFF at the camp I went to as a kid. What else is there in life? The added perk that the most beautiful girl I ever had the luck of courting until then was at that summer camp and lived right down the road in Cooperstown. Northern bound!

So my brother and I packed up my Toyota Corolla, hit a few Dead shows on the way up the east coast, and I rolled into Beaver Cross Summer Camp refreshed and excited. It is a beautiful old mansion converted into a camp with little cabins, big meadows, a pool, and a cast of characters like any other camp. Former campers turned adults that can't quite quit the camp life. But what a life. Even as a STAFF it's all games, swimming, songs, candy, but with access to the staff smoking porch, beers on the weekend in Cooperstown, and making out. Counselors, maintenance, directors, lifeguards, cleaning girls, everyone got into the mix and the drama was better than any soap opera. There is nothing quite like laying on a blanket in the middle of the field under a clear starry sky frenchin' with the NEW hottest young woman who ever got within my personal space. If this is what being an Episcopalian is all about, everyone should get some!

And in the kitchen was Patty. A great chef who truly loved food. She opened my eyes to what food could be, even at summer camp. Why? She fucking CARED. How many people I've worked with that don't care, stopped caring a while ago, or care but are too lazy to make it happen. Patty wanted it all be good even if it was for kids, teenagers, and STAFF that really don't care about anything. This cooking thing, bent over a big black ancient stove, walk-in fridges, and a steamy dishwasher that was a constant race was exhilarating and educational under her. I didn't cook shit, though. Scrubbed, cleaned, peeled, chopped, whipped with an egg under my arm to show me the proper technique, all the time dreaming about the next chance I might get to kiss that girl in the meadow even though she was making out now with one of the older counselors. "Charlie! Wake up and get those mashers done!" "Owwww! I just cut off the end of my finger!!!" Blood hits the ceiling. I battle on until after dinner when I get a trip to Cooperstown Hospital. What's not to love about that?

Next Chapter- Hans, a lesson in divorce and playing with food (as well as other things?!) at The Melting Pot

Dedicated lovingly to the memory of Deacon Betty and Frank, two of the best people I have had the luck to know and model citizens who made life for a lot of kids great. Summer camp should be fun, simple, safe, and cheap. They made that happen for my family and for many less fortunate than me. RIP.