My mom forwarded me an email address from the newspaper in the town where I grew up. A staff person there was looking for recollections about a camp that the city ran when I was young that is celebrating its 60th anniversary. I just submitted this for possible publication for a special remembrance page of the city's web site.
One of the first perks my mother discovered as a new City of Dearborn employee in 1976 was the resident discount for Camp Dearborn Youth Camp. As a newly-divorced, single mom, it was a godsend. Little did she know how sending me that summer would change my life.
That first summer I met a young girl named Lisa B****. We were 8. We probably never would have met otherwise as she was in DHS territory while I was destined to be a Thunderbird as my parents had been.
Being from different sides of the proverbial tracks proved difficult as Lisa and I got older. The schoolyard battle reached its height when, after seven summers spent together, our friendship and playful rivalry was captured in our final camper photo taken by some now-unremembered counselor. We stood next to each other - me in an Edsel Ford athletic sweatshirt and Lisa in a DHS gymnastics sweatshirt - clowning for the camera. This photo still means more to me than I could ever explain.
It means even more knowing that not only did we spend 7 summers as campers together but proceeded to spend the next three summers as staff together at Youth Camp. And, then even more summers while we were in college wearing pink shirts, green shirts, and red shirts in lower camp! I ended up spending thirteen summers out there and only one was without Lisa. We made up for it by each of us spending our final year at Michigan State rooming together.
I know it’s no longer there but I remember that there was a H-shaped dock in the lake that Youth Camp used for swimming. On the center section that faced out into the deep area was a spot where Lisa and I made our mark: we etched 12 slashes into the wood to represent those initial years of our friendship.
And, I say initial years because as of 2006, Lisa B**** (now Lisa F****) and I have been friends for over 30 years. She is the big sister this only child ever had. She's walked through some of the toughest times of my life during my single years. And, despite now living many miles apart, each of us has been blessed since then to be at the other's wedding as well as the other's baby shower. Between the two of us, we've brought four babies into this world. And, I have another on the way. And, you can bet that each one of them will know about the legacy and the friendships that Camp Dearborn has brought into our lives. I cannot conceive of what my life would have been like if I had not gone to Youth Camp that one summer in 1976.