August 9, 2012
By D3gan SILVER, Mill Valley, California
D3gan SILVER, Mill Valley, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter"

What is the point of camping? Is it to populate pristine forests and turn them into mirror images of our polluted cities, or rather the opposite, to enjoy the last parts of nature we have not yet destroyed? Perhaps towns may expand to cities to accommodate the growing population, and areas may rotate from parks to houses. But when you renovate a forest to make space for more people to camp, you take away the forest element. No longer is it an escape for out busy lives, but rather an inconvenient location to work, with bad reception and unpaved ground. So they make it have better reception, pave the ground, and before you know it, it becomes a small community, then a town, then a city.
I’m sure there are many places like this, but I want to focus on Camp Campbell, my home away from home since the age of two. Every year I’d spend Labor Day weekend there, and every year I counted the days until I could go to my beloved Camp Campbell. I could easily walk the entire camp blindfolded and know exactly where I was, how many trees there were, and the number of branches on each tree. I knew the best way to climb each tree, and each had a fond memory tied to it, whether it was from when I was three or eleven. Though my parents joked one day I would tire of camp, I truly believed in my heart that would never happen. That was when it all went wrong.
The dining hall battered and beaten as it might be, was the heart of Camp Campbell, pictures from years past and each paint splatter had a story behind it. I had spent countless hours there, besides even eating; I played games, read books, or just talked. There was never a time it was empty, the sound of laughter and happiness rang through it as deep and pure as the rusted bell that hung outside. It was thrown out without a thought in exchange for a uniform, simple, new dining hall. It had no past, no story, not even an eccentric shape. It was, simply put, boring. The bell was gone too, the one that signaled a meal, the one we all happily fought to ring. But that wasn’t the only thing that changed.
Three has always been my favorite number. I could never put my finger on why, until one day when I exited my cabin, the cabin I stay in every year, and looked up at the number. In ways like this, Camp Campbell has really changed my life, influencing not only my thoughts, words, and motivations, but also my overall favorite things. I loved Cabin 3, and the graffiti with horribly illiterate messages like “Suzie waz here. OMG. Peace out yo!” annoyed me so much. Why did they think they were worthy to ruin even the smallest section of the wall by printing their name on it, when I, who had come to this camp my whole life, didn’t even consider it? No one was worthy to write on a wall that has so many years, stories, and secrets behind it. Worse was when I was forced to stay in a different cabin, the cabins that my parents wanted to stay in. The new cabins.
The concept was cool, I’ll admit, “treetop cabins.” You could stay 20 feet up in the air in a cabin. One who had never been to camp earlier would have appreciated it. But to make space for the cabins, they cut down trees. Trees that had been there 50 years before them, ones with hidden stories weaved between the roots so firmly clenched in the ground. When I first had come here, they seemed almost magic, these unmovable trees, though the world spun around I could always count on them to be there every year. Trees that knew wonders of the world, trees that could tell amazing secrets you have never dreamed of if they could talk. But if they could talk, they’d be screaming.
As a child, we all had that one special place we found peace in. The one place where we always felt we belonged, that no one could ever take from us. Perhaps you found it in a person, or a book, or a place. For me, it was deep inside the forest. Nestled inside two trees, far away from the main campsite and trail, my best friends and I came to it again and again. The air was purer there, my thoughts clearer, the world just plain better. Many secrets were shared there, dreams were admitted, and they seemed to stay there, like a mental dream catcher between the trees. But no foliage was left untouched, no tree unevaluated to be cut. An ugly concrete trail leads up to it now; strangers are walking among what seemed untouchable by the outside world previously.
Now it hardly is camping anymore, as most of the trees are gone. Soon, the rest will go to, and I’m sure the cabins, instead of being used for summer camps and over some holiday weekends, will be sold. The place I once knew, the camp I loved, is dead. No longer is it worthy to be called Camp Campbell. It’s just like a family member dying, but almost worse, as many people live to an old age and die of natural causes, when the trees are murdered cruelly. We are biting the hand that feeds us. What do the trees do besides give? They give shelter, oxygen, and we pay them back by cutting them down. Worse than that, are the people who stay in those cabins, over what used to be a beautiful forest.

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