The Box

April 21, 2010
I reached into the top of my closet. I noticed how much easier it is to get the box as the years progress. My hand felt the comfort of the smooth cardboard. I tugged hard since the box was full to the brim with items. It came tumbling down, spilling its wares on the carpet. This box you ask, what does it have to do with anything? This single box contains my memories of the greatest place to me, Camp O.

The first few things I picked up were name tags, five of them to be exact. As I looked through the small collection the oldest one I found was a salmon colored tag with a navy blue lanyard. I remember being nine that year at camp and having a girl in my cabin that only ate chicken at meals so naturally she won the rubber chicken award. I had only received an art award so of course I was jealous. The best nametag I found in the stack had a signature written right over my name. It puzzled me for a second until I looked at my dresser where a picture sat of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team. Then I remembered that is the year David Garrad made a surprise appearance at our camp! I had asked him to sign my nametag because it meant so much to me.

As a leaned down to pick the other things up something caught my eye. A rock! It was as ordinary as anything else on the ground. I flipped it over in my hand seeing the word written on the back. “Acceptance” was all it said. Then it hit me this was three years ago on the last night when we stood around in a circle with candles and wrote down which word we thought described our camp experience. I chose acceptance because I had met a girl that summer who was terribly sick but seemed as happy as a clam. It showed me things could always be worse but if she could accept her challenges then I could accept the things that are wrong with me.

I picked up the pictures that had fallen on the ground and saw the one that meant the most to me. To an average person they would see four ordinary people standing in front of a fireplace on Halloween. It is essentially that, but it is also the only picture I have taken my first year at what was then Camp C. in October of 2001. This was without a doubt the happiest I had been in over a year. And in the photo to capture the moment with me were my Mom, Dad, and sister.

I stuffed the pictures back into the box that I had made as one of my many art projects we had on those rainy camp days. I picked up the multiple red bandannas to put in the box with the pictures and noticed I didn’t have a single blue bandanna. At Camp Oasis you are put into two teams for a day; up until recently it has always been red vs. blue. You don’t get to pick your colors but for as long as I can remember I was always fell victim to the red team. You had to compete in the apache relay, along with making a banner and chants with your team. You were judged accordingly. Needless to say we were always the losing team!

The last bundle of items I had to cram back into the box were the shirts. I have ten of them one for every year that I have gone to camp. The recent ones all look the same, the simple logo with the year and sponsors coating the back leaving little space for friend’s signatures. The best one I have says “I survived camp c.!” from 2003. The best part of the shirts isn’t the cheesy logos; it is the signatures from the many friends I made that year at camp. On the earlier shirts the handwriting isn’t legible since we struggled to master the concept of writing on fabric with a sharpie at this earlier age. I also noticed the messages have gotten longer as the bonds between each other have gotten stronger over the years. The friendships I developed while at camp will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I jammed the lid back on the packed box and put it back on the top of my shelf. As I reached up my hand brushed the yellow team’s banner from this year’s camp that they had let me keep. It reminded me that the colors may no longer be red and blue, and the once simple four day camp that is now the extravagant five day one may have changed over the years, but it will always have the biggest part of my heart.

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