Wild Yonder

I just got back from camp. Oh, what a difference a day makes.

So my friend Meredith, and her two friends Heather and Kaitlyn, were talking awhile back about summer camp, and how great it was, and how someone should start one for adults. And, because they are the kind of people who make things happen, they did.

This, friends, is not just any camp. It’s not “glamping,” but it’s totally a camp with all the really good stuff you can get your hands on. Like, I stepped on the Bridge Bus, which made its first stop in Raleigh, and Kaitlyn introduced me around and I had a beer in my hand before I made it to my seat. A Cack-a-lacky from Fullsteam. “Hm,” I said. “This is better than the camp I remember.”

It was a good long ride out to camp, and we stopped and picked up people in Durham and Carrboro, and then we drove on to a farm out in Pittsboro. On the way, there was the traditional Assigning of the Nicknames. We had to go around and answer a series of questions, and the nickname was determined by consensus. The questions were, “What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had?” (Sears Tower Skydeck). “What’s your hidden talent?” (Honky Tonk.) “What’s the last vacation you took?” (Driving Route 66.) “What’s the worst trouble you’ve ever been in?” (I got pulled five times last year.) “What survival experience made you feel like a badass?” (Camping solo in a Maine Nor’Easter.)  I got done answering my questions and someone yelled out, “Miss Awesome!” and that made me feel like I fit in just fine at camp, although they circled around Honky Tonk and then landed on Nor’Easter. Which is a pretty great nickname.  Another guy got to the last question and said, and he was not even making it up, “Well, I was on the rescue team that helped bring the Apollo space mission home,” and the crowd got really quiet, and someone said, “Dude. You WON that question.”  So his name was Badass Apollo for the day.

Let’s see, after we arrived there was a nature walk.



It was on edible landscaping, and most of the stuff you can eat is really good for you.  Violets are heart healers; elderberry is antiviral; you can make pesto out of chickweed (which is great because it’s all over my yard); rosemary is good for memory; and you can make a relaxing tea from lemon balm.

I learned some things. And then we went inside and drank more beer while we did arts and crafts. This is fun, Sean from Fullsteam is an Eagle Scout. He wore his Boy Scout shirt and brought his plaque. And his derby cars. That is the Real Deal.


Arts and crafts was campfire sticks for later. Yeah. I put glitter on mine.


Then there was a  pretty fascinating session down in the kitchen, where we learned to make salves/balms/lotions from natural things, and seriously, you never smelled anything so good. That is, until you walked outside after that and they were making popcorn over the fire.


You could stand around eating popcorn with compound butter while you learned how to make infusions out of Covington vodka. And then we make cocktails. I TOLD YOU grown up camp is great.


There was a little free time, and then we made hobo packets for dinner. That’s Meredith, tending the fire. There was sausage from Rose’s Meat Market, with sauces made by the guys from Pie Pushers and Mateo.


Our campfire sticks looked pretty sweet, all in a row.


And night fell, and the mist rose.


And, yeah. That’s Django Haskins leading the campfire songs. I’ve been to some good campfire singalongs before, but when he opened with “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” I knew we were in for something special. And it was.

ImageI could go on: the homemade marshmallows and graham crackers and Videri chocolate for s’mores, and the sparklers, and how people passed around flasks of the good bourbon while we sang, and the nice things people said around the camp fire, and the frogs off in the distance, and how the crowd was just overall effortlessly amiable and interesting and welcoming. Happy campers, all.

I booked this camp day a few weeks ago, having no idea at the time how badly I’d need a day away from everything. I tend to do this thing were I say, “I should step out of my comfort zone! I’ll totally step out of my comfort zone and try something new!” and then I recruit eight or ten friends to do it with me, and it’s fun, but at no point does anyone have to step more than six inches out of their comfort zones when insulted with a crowd of friends eight or ten deep. I’m making a conscious effort these days not to do that every time. I adore my friends, each and every one of them, and I also know that, as someone who is inherently very very very very shy, at least when I’m out of my comfort zone, I need to show up sometimes under my own steam, without bubble wrap, and spend my new experience meeting new people and learning new things. It worked out great.

And so. Beautiful day in the woods, what with the nature and the fresh air and the good people and the amazing food and soul-stirring music and the arts and crafts and healing herbs and rising mist and all.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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