Crying on rocks: an essay

My experience at camp Betsey Cox was hard, it was also interesting, amazing, and I got to meet some of the coolest people I have ever met.  The first few days were hard. I didn't know anyone, and I wasn’t able to talk to adults without crying. I was sick, and I was having a lot of anxiety because there were so many new people who I didn’t know.  

The Sunday I arrived I took a swim test, I am a very good swimmer and I didn’t get put in the swim level that I was hoping for.  I was upset, and I talked to Jen who was the cabin inspector. It wasn’t as helpful as I had hoped, but Jen did talk to the swim people.  The next day, two of the swim people came and talked to me.  The first person who talked to me about my swim level was a person named Tori, they told me that I could probably pass my swim level easily and that they were very impressed with my swimming because I knew butterfly.  The second person told me that I needed to get better at swimming and at resting strokes, it wasn’t very helpful, but it turned out that she was right.   Tori was my swim teacher that day, and they had on earrings that looked like sand buckets.  They asked me what candle I would be if I was a candle, my answer was a navy blue beeswax taper candle. They told me that that was an AWESOME answer.  That's when I knew I liked them a lot.  

On the second full day, I was so sick that I had to spend the day in Breadloaf, which is the sick cabin. It wasn't all that fun, but I got to listen to a lot of the audio tape of Harry Potter.  

The third day was trip day and I went to a puppet making class. It was fun, but I was also exhausted. We went swimming in the river, and then we got ice cream, I got Fly Fishing Fudge. When we drove back to camp, the counselor who was driving us got really lost, and we went half an hour in the wrong direction.  We pulled into dinner ten minutes late.

That Wednesday was the meet and greet social with Sangamon, the boys camp.  We met our brother cabin (a cabin of kids at Sangamon who were our same age) and we introduced ourselves.  We said our names, pronouns, where we were born, and what our favorite kitchen utensil was.  I said that mine was a meat hammer. One of the counselors from the brother cabin I could tell was a trans woman, and she introduced herself as Roz.  I knew that my stepfamily had both worked at and gone to Betsey Cox and Sangamon.  My step cousin once removed was working at Betsey Cox this summer, her name is Francie, but she was on the STAF trip during session two, so I missed out on getting to know her.  Mom had told me that Francie had a sister who was a trans woman named Rosalyn.  I was standing across the circle from Roz, and I realized that I had just met my step cousin once removed. After everyone introduced themselves, I went over to her and said “You are my step cousin once removed”.  She was pretty cool about it, and I was really excited that I got to meet family that I barely knew existed.

On Thursday I went to my swim lesson, and then I went to wood shop for the first time. I made a pen on a lathe, and then I designed a jewelry hanger.  I got invited to go riding, and I got to trot for the first time.  Tori gave me a rock, and I kept it in my pocket until we played capture the flag that night when I lost it because I was running too much and it fell out. 

Saturday was a rest day, so we got to sleep in until eight when the first bell rang.  Then all the early risers could come and eat donuts and bagels.  We had some free time, and then I went over to Sangamon to watch the staff play soft ball.  After lunch and rest hour it was theme day and the theme was job fair.  You could go to different stations and be a clown, a barista, a house designer, or a biologist.  It was fun and I got chosen as one of 6 to go see a farm to ballet performance and get dinner at a food truck.  

Sunday ment Sunday seminars.  I went to a seminar in the morning on cloth painting, even though I would have rather gone to one on fishing. Then there was free time and lunch.  Sunday was the day I figured out that I could go out to the rock outside the cabin for rest hour.  On the rock I wrote letters, cried, listened to the Indigo Girls on my tape player, and just sat thinking.  In the afternoon I went to the seminar where we put together a birthday party for a girl in Mansfield cabin.  Then I went to free swim.  Vespers happened in the late afternoon, and we sang a song called Barges.  It was a cabin cookout night and the counselors burnt my burger.

On Monday, I got to do a swim lesson with Tori and Liz. It was really fun, and I did more laughing than swimming.  I got invited to use a loom and I spent the two periods in the afternoon in the Weavery.  I got really good at weaving, and I found out that I really like it. During the evening program, there was a co-ed world cup soccer tournament with Sangamon. I wasn’t allowed to play because I had split my foot earlier because I was going barefoot.  I was on Israel's team originally but since I didn’t play, when the finals happened Tori gave me a sticky Mexico flag to wear on my shirt.  It turned out that Tori and Roz were friends and were both excited that I had found a dead bug and brought it to show Tori.  Israel won, but I still think that Mexico should have.

Tuesday I finished my weaving and I also glued my jewelry holder together.  I went swimming twice.  In the evening we went to Sangamon to do another social.  It was Barbie/eighties themed.  I definitely didn’t dress like a Barbie or eighties themed because I wore an off the shoulder shirt and steel toed boots.  It was insane but everyone survived.

Wednesday ment that it was trip day again.  I went to a horse show, and it was 90 degrees out, so it wasn’t all that fun, except that Tori was one of the trip leaders.  After the horse show, we went to a beach.  All the other girls begged for ice cream and the counselors on the trip talked to Lorrie and Devri who are the camp directors and they said yes.  We got strawberry soft serve and Tori got covered in ice cream, that was my favorite part of the trip.  

When we went back to camp, the counselors told everyone in my cabin that one of the girls in our cabin had to leave for a family emergency.  We were all very upset.  That evening I was crying at dinner and Tori came up to me and said “It's supposed to be a surprise, and I’m not supposed to tell you, but… Roz has some rocks for you!”  That made me cheer up. I would get to see my cousin one more time at the contra dance that night with Sangamon.  

That night, I was standing in the dance line next to Roz, and she pulled a rock out of her front overall pocket. It was big and purple. I gave her a big hug and then the first dance started.  I was in over my head because I can't dance very well, so I left the tennis court where the dance was happening and talked to a kid from Sangamon.  I went back to the tennis court for the third to last dance, and it was a six-person dance.  Both Tori and Roz pulled me into their group before I could think.  It was so fun, Roz and I were the alpha couple at first.  It was my favorite day at camp.  Later Roz gave me four other rocks, one was big and pink, one was shiny quartz, one was tiny and had a white stripe on it, and the last one was triangular and white.  I was very upset that I had to say goodbye to Roz after just a week, and I couldn’t sleep well that night.  

 Thursday was hard. I was upset, and there wasn’t very much I could do because it was the second to last day of camp.  I went swimming twice and to arts and crafts twice. It was boring, but the rock that was outside of Mansfield cabin was helpful.  The talent show was that night and there were some pretty cool acts.

Friday was the last day of camp, and so we did unpack and repack, and I cried a lot more.  The awards ceremony was in the afternoon and I got my weaving back.   The banquet dinner was that night and the maple glazed chicken was amazing.  After dinner, I talked to Tori and gave them a heart shaped rock that they said would be good for skipping, they ran into their cabin and came out with a big green rock to give me.  The bonfire was late that night. We sang songs, and cried a lot because it was the last day of camp.

In the morning, I woke up at the first bell and everyone ate donuts at our tables.  I spent the rest of the morning crying on the rock outside the Mansfield cabin because I wasn’t going to be able to sit on the rock anymore, and I was going to miss everyone.  Mom and dad came at ten and then I went home.  It was the best overnight camp experience I have ever had, and I hope I get to go back next year. 





13 years old