The oldest campers’ cheers almost deafen me as my dad’s obnoxiously painted car with cringe-worthy camp slogans (“Mystic or Bust!” and “Honk if you’re a Tonk!”) sails through the iconic green gates of Camp Mystic that have awaited my presence for the past eleven months. The willowing cypress trees separate the plush, emerald golf course from the single cement road that twists and turns its way into the heart of Camp Mystic. At the end of the cypress trees, the Guadalupe river flows gently and peacefully, not yet disturbed by rowdy water fights from the younger girls, splashes from snorkelers diving to find treasures ranging from plastic rings to snappy turtles, or the infamous seniors aggressively rowing in the war canoe boats. As our car climbs the hill country slope to be greeted by ecstatic, screaming 20-year-old counselors, I know I am home again.
Camp has been a part of my life since the day I was born; my mother went to Camp Mystic, and used to annoy me endlessly with wild stories of her summers in the 80s. Now, we have traded places; I constantly talk about camp and beg to see my camp friends all the time.
I truly believe that people are either “camp people” or they are not. Camp is definitely not for everyone; and if it’s not for you, you know it right away. One of my good friends from middle school went to Waldemar starting in the second grade, and I don’t think she quite knew what her parents had signed her up to do for two weeks. Her mother had gone to Waldemar and loved it; how would it be possible for her daughter to absolutely hate it? Well, this girl detested every single second of it; she wrote her parents a letter including a detailed, hand-drawn map of the camp and where her parents should pick her up on a certain date and a particular time. She had big plans to steal a golf cart and meet them by the river near the gate. Unfortunately, her parents never received her letter in time and could not come to her rescue because they were on vacation. I respect people who are not into the whole Texas summer camp phenomenon. Some people can’t stand the thought of sitting in the sweltering July sun cheering on your tribe reeking in sunscreen while sweat trickles down the back of your legs or sharing one large, non air-conditioned room and a bathroom with two sinks and two toilets and two connecting showers (all very communal with no locks!) for an entire month with over 20 people. If I were to overanalyze the situation, I would think it was gross too.
But to me, these are some of the things that make camp the most special; truly, nothing bonds people more than living with each other for a month. We laugh and we cry and we sing and we dance. Together. Because these people aren’t just people, they are my sisters and my best friends. We tell each other things we’ve never told anyone else, we play pranks on each other, and we sometimes have arguments. But at the end of the day, we love each other more than Kanye loves Kanye. More than peanut butter and vanilla ice cream (actually try this: Bluebell Ice Cream and Peter Pan Creamy Peanut Butter). More than the twinkling stars we gaze up at on the golf course after Taps plays.
To all the camp haters out there, I’m sorry that our Facebook posts annoy you, that our “Mystic Mondays” and “Waldy Wednesdays” and “TBTs” fill up your feed too much, that we constantly talk about our camp friends and our cabin mates and our camp traditions.These girls are not just my cabin mates; they are my family, and Mystic is my home.