"We will be expecting a phone call every Sunday afternoon," My father says sternly, glancing away from the road to give me a look through the rear view mirror.
"You have piano practice every morning," My mom adds, her voice holding equally as much stringency. "We have a copy of your schedule as well as your piano teachers personal phone number."
In the rear view, I catch the look my father is giving me, which is full of unspoken threat; but not even my parents stringent tendencies can dull my excitement. I simply nod and look back out the window, feeling the restlessness beginning to creep through me. We were driving down the final tree-lined road, only moments away from parting ways for the next four weeks. As the trees pass by in blurs of green, I can only watch in anticipation.
We reached the last stretch of the long road, where the end winded into the beginning of a dirt path. The tires shifted off the road and onto the dirt, and the familiarity of the feeling alone made a smile grow on my lips. I could see, from the car window, two tall wooden pillars holding up an old wood sign. In chipping white paint that looked worn from all the years of the camps existence read Camp Wisahickon, in bold precise lettering, on the rectangular sign.
As soon as our car passed underneath the sign, I feel a shot of excitement course through my veins. I could faintly see the cabins as we drove closer to the heart of the camping grounds, as well as people flittering about. In less than ten minutes, I would finally be free of my overwhelmingly overbearing parents. In less than ten minutes, I would be able to forget about the worries that they constant remind me of. Most importantly, in less than ten minutes, I would be able to drop the "perfect daughter" act and be myself for the next four weeks.
The car came to a stop, and I snapped out of my thoughts immediately to see we stopped in the middle of the drop-off area. My eyes lit up with excitement as I flung myself out of the car, and then immediately took a deep breath of the fresh, piny woods. A smile adorned my face subconsciously as I inhaled the scent, my favorite scent, and for the first time in months, I felt relaxation roll through my body.
"Ahem," My mother clears her throat, and I turn to see her looking at me expectantly. "Are you going to say goodbye?"
I smile politely, because even her brass mood can't bring me down. I was finally home.
"Goodbye, mom," I say, giving her a quick hug, and then move to repeat the action with my father. "Goodbye, dad." I step back and look at them both, still unable to contain my smile. "I'll see you both in four weeks."
My mom eyes me carefully and nods. "I'll be calling your piano instructor every week to see how practice is going."
As more people passed us, I grew more anxious to put my things down and go find Poppy. Poppy was my best friend from camp; we met the summer after eighth grade, my first summer coming here. She lived in Massachusetts but travelled to Maine every summer for camp, so I only get to see her when I'm here.
"I expect you to be finished your summer reading by the time camp is over," My mom adds matter-of-factly.
I turn toward her again and nod, willing to agree with anything they'd say just so they would leave. "I'll have plenty of free time, so don't worry, I'll definitely finish."
My dad looked down at his wrist watch and then at my mom. "Come on Claire, we need to get on the road before rush hour."
We exchanged short goodbyes again, I grabbed my bags from the trunk, and then I watched as their car drove off on the dirt road. As I saw the dirt kick up off the ground behind the car, I feel a sense of liberation seep through me. Finally, I could stop acting like the good little girl they thought I was, and I could be myself.
"Mina!" The familiar sound of my camp nickname made a grin grow on my lips immediately.
I turn in time to see a flurry of wild brown curls before I'm tackled in a tight hug that has me teetering back. Laughter bubbles up my throat as I regain my balance, and I don't even care that I almost fell, because I haven't seen the crazy girl that is currently attached to me in a year. A grin overcomes my face as I squeeze her just as tightly as she was squeezing me.
"Poppy!" I exclaim as happily as she had, and when we let each other go, I see her smiling just as widely as I.
"Oh my god, Mina, it's so good to see you," Poppy gushes in her typical dramatic manner. "I have so much to tell you. But first: have you put your stuff in cabin 5 yet?"
I glance at my duffel bags, which were discarded on the ground a few feet away, and then back at Poppy. "Nope, not yet. Parents just left."
She rolled her eyes at the mention of my parents, but didn't comment. "Me neither. Let's go get settled then head to the pit to talk."
We followed the familiar path back to cabin 5, the cabin we stayed in every year together, and privately exclaimed our excitement to be back. On our way to the cabin, we passed a few other friends, and called our greetings with a wave. We walk past the few rows of boys cabins, through the clumps of people talking and catching up, until we finally reach girl territory.
Camp Wisahickon was split up into four sections. The girls cabins and boys cabins were only within a couple hundred feet of each other, but they were the first separated area of the camp. If you kept walking past the cabins, you would eventually reach the main buildings: the recreation center, auditorium, fire pit, and dining hall. However, if you go behind the cabins, through the trees, you'll find the last and my personal favorite separated section of the campgrounds: the lake.
"I call top bunk," Poppy cries as we approach our familiar cabin.
I chuckle and agree, only because I love the bottom bunk anyway, and this was kind of our tradition; we always shared a bunk bed. When we entered the cabin with our duffel bags tightly gripped in our hands, I glanced around and saw the familiar faces of our bunk mates from previous years. The cabin smelt of pine needles and firewood, a scent infinitely trapped within the confines of the wooden walls.
"Mina! Poppy!" Sarah, one of our bunk mates calls excitedly as we step through the threshold.
"Hey Mina!" Rachel, another girl, exclaims. "Poppy, it's good to see you!"
I drop my duffel bags at the base of our bunk and hug Sarah and Rachel as they flitter about the cabin excitedly. Like me, they have gone to camp every summer the past four years, and stayed in cabin 5 with me and Poppy. There are a few other girls in the cabin that I greet as well, all familiar faces of returning campers.
After a few minutes of catching up, Poppy tugs on the material of my tee shirt and announces, "We are headed to the pit, if anyone wants to join."
The girls concede that they have other responsibilities to tend to, so Poppy and I head off to the fire pit. We walk past the girls cabins, stopping frequently to say hello to other friends, and eventually make it to the secluded fire pit. As expected, there was no one else there, so we had the area to ourselves.
There was a large, circular, brick fire pit situated in the middle of the open area. A few feet away were thick logs to sit on, organized in a circle around the pit. A few white Adirondack chairs were scattered behind the logs, spread apart evenly, for more seating. Unfortunately, at night, the fire pit is packed, and it's the most likely that you'll end up on the dirt ground.
It was kind of tradition for us to go down to the pit when we first got to camp, so we could relay every important piece of information from the past year without being interrupted. Unlike most years, though, I was reluctant to sit down on the logs by the pit and spill the details of my past year, because it hadn't exactly been a good one.
But that didn't mean I wouldn't spill my guts to my best friend anyway.