Camp Skyline Ranch in Mentone Alabama!

I talked about being invited to speak at the Moon Lake Library in Mentone, Alabama in my previous posts; and the irony that my hosts didn't realize I'd gone to camp there for many of my formative years when they invited me. Well, the whole weekend felt a bit like traveling through a tesseract; time was folding on itself as so many familiar and fond memories came back to me. Best of all was going back to Camp Skyline Ranch!
     Stan and I walked around, and I swear I could still hear all the girls running around, laughing and shouting. How strange to suddenly feel so very in touch with my child self on such a tangible level! When I first went to camp there at age 10, I stayed in Beetlebum. Here were my friends back in 1977 (I'm behind the camera).
Me in my 20s when I went to visit while on a motorcycle trip with my dad.
And me now. Wow. It's been a lifetime of coming back.
The insides of the cabins are actually much nicer than in my day, and they've paneled over where we all signed our names with toothpaste (which is surprisingly durable and was still there when I visited in my 20s).
I spent many an evening by the wonderful campfire, singing camp songs.
And I even spent some time in the "Limp-in, Leap-out" infirmary, when my favorite horse, Ginger threw me and I got a mild concussion.
The dining hall, called "Squeeze In," used to have a literal gum tree in front. Here I am with it in my 20s.
They've since replaced the building with a brand-new dining hall and a new "gum tree."
In fact, the camp is thriving. I ran into one of the directors and they have waiting lists to get in these days. There were new buildings all around (built in the 1920s camp style with heavy logs and green screen-doors). And the landscaping is gorgeous, again, filled in with all those rhododendrons and mountain laurel I remember so well and pressed into my books.
I was happy to see that the rope swing was still there, albeit a bit better engineered these days. Here I am with it an my friends at age... 15? (I'm on the right.)
And in my 20s.
And this past weekend. I was so excited to still be able to do this! Of course, getting off the thing was a bit harder than I remember. I made a darned good pendulum!
There are three "houses" at Skyline, sort of like the houses in Harry Potter—the Mounties, the Rangers, and the Troopers. I was a Trooper. The irony is that many of our Trooper songs were based on old Scottish ballads; so when we went to Scotland, I was shocked to realize I recognized all the songs being played on the bagpipes! Here I am in a prize-winning year as Song-Leader.
These days, each "house" has an oversized adirondack chair sitting near where they meet.
We visited the old pool (now filled in), and I swear I could smell the chlorine and feel the alcohol they put in our ears to avoid infections (it was a true cement pond). (They have a shiny new pool now.) We visited the old hotel where the older girls stayed, and where I spent three summers.
We visited the "Snack Shack" where I used to buy Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle with peanut M&Ms. And the "Craft Corner" where I spent many a happy afternoon doing leatherworks, macramé, or photography.
But the spot that perhaps meant the most was the old gym.
This building did so much to form who I am today. I had my first slow dance (with a boy from Camp Laney) and late-night movie night inside.
And I gave my first on-stage performances during the talent shows. (I was terrible, but had a great time!)
I thrived at Camp Skyline. I embraced the autonomy I had there, found my voice, and became a natural leader. I attribute all of these traits to Skyline, and they have served me outstandingly throughout my life. What a magical place. I'm still singing the camp song in my head... right now... "Skyline, skyline, we will 'ere love you..."

1 comment:

Jennifer Oberholtzer said...

This is a trip down memory lane! How blessed we were to have parents who wanted to & were able to provide this experience for us. So many children don't get the opportunity. You definitely made the most out of Camp Skyline Ranch!