“Opening Day” by Emily Kasper

Jul 2, 2024 | Adam Trufant

There are few joys in life like the opening day of a North Carolina sleepaway camp.  Early that morning, the cabins stand quietly ready, creaking beams impatient for the weight of rambunctious campers to fill them once more with trunks of new stationary and old sneakers.  The equipment is readied, the grass mown, the kitchens gleaming with new-summer shine. Everything tidy, everything ready. 


But somehow, as the weeks go by and the grass begins to show wear from the pounding of feet and the benches seem they will crack if one more teenager hops up to command a song from the dining hall… the real perfections of summer camp are seen.  Towels dry in the sun and water bottles begin to show up in the lost and found.  Well-loved paperbacks are left on benches and forgotten hats slowly make their way back to campers.  The campers (and honestly, the staff) are undoubtedly a bit dirtier than when they arrived… but they glow from the inside with happiness and health. 

Camp is most beautiful, not when it is clean and empty, but when it is FULL of these young ones enjoying nature and one another.  If you’ve ever spent time at camp, you know we keep our impact on the natural world as low as possible, and we spend an unnatural amount of time keeping everyone’s belongings in their place.  But we don’t mind the work.  Every article dropped is a child hurrying from one adventure to the next.  We grab the book, the bottle, the hat, the towel.  We reset and tidy, clean and polish. 

But it will never be as quiet and pristine as it was that morning on day one. 

At least until next year.