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The Unintentionally Cherished Tradition

Written by: Leslie Bosscher

1995: My new crush and I were doing that absurd thing that newly, in-love couples do where we’d discuss baby names and what we wanted to be when we grew up. We talked about our own childhoods and what aspects of them we’d want to replicate for our children. Nauseating, I know. He kept mentioning camp. What’s this ˜camp’ business that he keeps talking about? When I was young, there was a camp near my house that only interested me because a girl had gotten kidnapped from there and my mother used that excuse to not send me. Now, I realize that we simply weren’t over privileged summer camp people, so my mom had the convenient justification of not allowing me to attend, as to not get kidnapped. It was a fine arrangement because I was an indoorsy-girl and had little need for wilderness or crafts. So, why is this brilliantly handsome guy droning on and on and on about summer camp? Ew. I said to him in my most college-student, indignant tone, If you think I would send our kids to summer camp, you’re nuts. That’s for parents who don’t love their children and don’t want to spend time with them. He just stared at me with that look¦.pity perhaps? And I immediately categorized his parents as negligent and cold.

2002: I’m looking into the most beautiful face I’d ever seen in my entire life. It was the face of my first born son and I would immediately become so protective and territorial over him that it bordered on smothering. My husband (the campy dude) would talk to him every night, ¦.and we will go to Tiger’s games and I will teach you about the magic of Pink Floyd and we will go fishing on grandpa’s lake and in the summers you can go to Camp Manitou-Lin¦ Er”back it up, Daniel Boon. My baby is never going to camp. I said, ˜camp’ like you’d say, ˜lice.’

2004: I finally visited this Camp Manitou-Lin that everyone’s been talking about. It was my husband’s grandfather’s 90th birthday and a party was held in his honor because as a boy, he himself was a camper there, then a counselor, then a board member. Camp Manitou-Lin was a place of great significance to my husband’s family and I was starting to feel like the odd man out for not getting into it. So what? So great grandpa camped there and then so did grandpa and then so did daddy and all of his siblings, and?? As I toured the gorgeous lodge, the impressive porch and the calming lake, I saw our last name plastered all over the place. It was then that I began to feel pride in not only my name, but the history and tradition that went along with it.

2009: Great Grandpa Bosscher was near the end of his life. His nurses knew it and told us what to expect. They all mentioned that a person who’s close to dying would often talk about seeing someone from the other side, or they’d perhaps mumble incoherently as if they’re dreaming. During a visit with him during one of his last days on earth, he (very clearly, mind you) began singing camp songs and instructed everyone in the room to ¦grab a corner. It was obvious that he was referring to the tight hospital corners of his (cabin’s bunk) bed sheets. I didn’t catch the importance then, but what an awesome way to go out; participating in (albeit, only in his mind) the very things you loved doing the most. At his funeral a few days later, his grandchildren sang his favorite camp songs.

2011: That baby boy is now 9. His great grandfather set up a trust for all of his great grandchildren to attend at least one session of overnight camp at Camp Manitou-Lin. My son was apprehensive to leave us for a week. I was a basket case. Leaving him there was torture (on me). Who will tuck him in? What if he can’t sleep? What if he doesn’t like what’s served for dinner? What if the cabins aren’t air conditioned? What if he goes to bed with dirty feet? What if he sneaks out to go meet his girlfriend on the other side of camp? Oh wait, that was his father¦ I worried, I prayed, I worried some more. But on day 7, when it was time to go get our boy, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I ran, literally ran to find his group so I could rescue him from the concentr”summer camp. I spotted him and waved like a maniac, he spotted me and walked away. Oh, maybe he didn’t see me. Ben!! Benny?? Hi honey!! He turned around and gave me the do-not-embarrass-me-face that every parent knows. When your highness finally decided to grace us with his presence, he said casually, Can I stay another week? Of course, this comment was like a knife to my uterus, but his father’s chest was heaving with pride when he looked at me and said, Told ya. Grrrr, as much as I hate when he’s right, I absolutely love the fact that history is repeating itself and my kids are a part of the Bosscher tradition. I know Grandpa Bosscher was shining down on his 7 great grandchildren who all attended camp that same week. They now talk about the same songs, games and camp traditions that I’ve been hearing my husband and his siblings talk about for the past (nearly) two decades.

Also noteworthy: My husband takes our boys to Family Camp at Camp Manitou-Lin every single summer. I let them go be boys while I stay home and enjoy my one weekend of pure silence. Personally, this is my favorite tradition of all.