Before venturing out to one of America’s oldest residential camps in Annapolis, Maryland, the prospect of an innocent little camp transforming into a wild-scene from the Amazon rainforest was incomprehensible.
It was June, in a state that combined 30 degree days with pristine blue, clear skies. Unfortunately though, it was night, and at night things were not so predictable. It was approaching 9 o’clock when a gust of wind collided with the shoddy, plastic windows of our lousy cabin, awakening me and the ten nine year olds I had became accustomed to over the past week. With it came the smell of freshly watered grass and the deafening sound of Maryland’s thunderous sky, frightening members of the group. The storm had hit, again.
Like its predecessors, the storm rippled across camp, destroying the fragile, aged decor that littered it. What seemed to be a hand-picked selection of trees were sacrificed and felled, falling like simple cardboard cut-out frauds built by the children who once ran amongst them. Like a bi-polar king of the world’s most dominant country, the storm erratically and impulsively decided all, setting rules along the way. Showers were a no-go. No matter how unbearably flustered or unclean one was in this humid climate, the steel that surrounded the barely functional, mold-infested showers resulted in a camp-wide fear of death by electrocution.
All activities were banned and the everyone retreated to safety, no excuses. People ran and screamed, the older children pretended to be scared until they were ferociously reminded of the storm’s over-whelming power through a bolt that could only have been served by Zeus himself. The kids in my cabin huddled and demanded the light be switched off so they could admire what was taking place. This was an event.
In ceremonial fashion the children sat in mystification. We all knew something cathartic was going to take place, and we welcomed it. There was just something about spending four months on the same, seemingly-shrinking plot of land that made you yearn for the unusual, something that could separate the days. The calm before a storm is often mentioned, but the silence after is gripped me. Watching these usually rowdy, uncontrollable children sit silently in wonderment of the marvel they had just witnessed was more impressive than the storm could ever be. One moment their rooms were lighting up more frequently than an 80s music video, and the other, there was nothing. Pure darkness, pure silence, and pure amazement lay on the face of every child.
The water still rained down, hard, but that just seemed normal now. All usual thoughts were absent. The lights from boats that scattered the surrounding peninsular flickered on and off as they challenged their own survival. The door opened and slammed shut in what seemed a final attempt from the storm to prove its strength; like a gorilla growling before it made its way into the forest to die. And then, the storm passed. Its memories hijacking our minds, as we returned to sleep in the hope that camp-life will once again be so intriguing.