Monday, July 10, 2017

Mom's postcard from camp: "Please come and get me"

It's possible that Mom didn't enjoy every camp she attended when she was young. I know that she loved her summers as a camper and then counselor at Camp Lochearn in Post Mills, Vermont. Before that, however, here's some possible evidence of a camp experience that she was not fully enjoying.

She took the time to draw and write this message to her mother on a blank postcard:
Dear Mom
I know you won't get this until Saturday or Monday, but Please come and get me. And Marjo.
The seemingly urgent message is accompanied by illustrations of Mom, Marjo, a cat on a leash named Mittens, and something that looks like a hamster, gerbil or guinea pig and goes by the name Elvis.

The front of the postcard is addressed to Helen Ingham, her mother, at the house on Oak Crest Lane. The return address is "Camp Chesapeake, Northeast, Maryland." The postcard is stamped, but there's no postmark, so it's possible that the distress call was never mailed. There is no date on the front or back of the card, which is a bummer.

There's a small town in Cecil County, Maryland, called North East (two words). That's probably what Mom was referring to. And there was a Camp Chesapeake there in Cecil County. According to a 2005 article in the Cecil Whig, it was sold in 2005. Here are some excerpts:
Campfire songs and laughter used to rustle through the trees in Happy Valley.

Each summer since the 1950s, kids attended Chesapeake Center Camp, off Happy Valley Road in Port Deposit to play games, be at one with nature and develop a deeper relationship with God. ...

Since 1955, the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia-based governing board for Presbyterian churches of this region, has owned the 115-acre campground. In its prime, each summer from June through August, Chesapeake Center Camp hosted more than 1,000 kids of various faiths, from Wilmington, Baltimore and areas and in-between. ...

At camp, the children learned team- and confidence-building skills. They learned how to get along with kids from other ethnic and economic backgrounds. ...

But in the early '90s, Chesapeake Center Camp attendance started to drastically decline along with the advent of more specialized camps for kids.

"Young children and teens today have many more choices for how to spend their summers," said the Rev. Jim Moseley of the New Castle Presbytery, the member branch of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic that oversees the camp. "Now, there are computer camps, sports camps, arts camps -- a whole variety of choices."...

The Synod started accepting sealed bids from all groups interested in buying the campground. New Castle Presbytery bid $2 million. Three real-estate developers bid more. The highest bid was $2.5 million from a real estate developer. Members of the Synod's Board of Trustees, chief overseers of the sale, accepted the bid. Contract negotiations for the site are still under way.

The property that once fostered love among generations of camp-goers now remains a bruise as locals and former campers wait to see what it will become. ...

On Friday, July 8 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Synod will hold a public sale of items remaining on the campground. Items listed for sale include fans, coffee pots, an air hockey board, camping lanterns, picnic tables, a tub of old life jackets, metal bunk beds and a piano with sticky keys.
There's a YMCA Camp Chesapeake in Cecil County these days, but I don't know if it's related to any of the elements of the old camp that Mom and Marjo attended.

Mom's drawing of herself, by the way, is pretty good. It reminds me a bit of this photograph. She would go on to become quite the talented artist.

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