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Honestly, this has been a season of personal reflection, redefining and seeking. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, dreaming and reliving while I mentally map out the next few years, and it’s not easy. When I think back on my time at Merri-Mac, I tend to wax a little romantic about the person I was and the experiences I had during that season of life, mostly because I’ve never felt more like myself than I did at camp.

To be honest, as a mom, I desperately hope that my daughters will have the same experience at camp that I did. That’s why I have loved bringing E.V. to Mother-Daughter Weekend the past two years. I want her to feel the most herself when she’s here, just like I did, to feel her heart race every time she drives up that gravel road. I feel all those cumbersome worldly expectations fall away when I’m at camp, and my true self comes whispering in my ear once again, if even just for a weekend.

And now E.V. has the chance to find her true self here, too.

I suppose there’s no guarantee, but I can already see glimpses of it happening when I watch her make her own way in this secluded little world. When she races up the hill, clips in without hesitation, and climbs a rock wall fearlessly. When she befriends another girl because she has pigtail braids too, choosing to quietly chat off to the side while everyone else runs around. When she joins the Worm Girls in the hunt for the grossest worm in the pond. When she loads that oversized bow awkwardly, struggles to pull the string back, finally releases that arrow — and for just a spilt second her body is graceful and confident and coordinated. When she hugs the totem pole to ward off the rain so that Free Swim is possible, then spends half her time waiting in line to try paddle boarding because she’s already conquered the diving board and wants a new challenge. When she finds out that “lights out” really means “start giggling.” When she whispers secrets to her old friends and I have no idea what they’re saying (and never will). When she serves herself yogurt at the breakfast bar, and as slow and as clumsy as her tiny hands are, refuses help because she “can do it herself.” When the realization hits that she can live off of warm dinner rolls and cardboard cartons of milk for a three days straight. When her face lights up as they begin to sing “The Prune Song” after lunch. When her mischievous face is covered in roasted marshmallows and s’mores crumbs. When she finally learns how to get the rock out of her Chacos, a skill that comes in handle approximately every 10 minutes when at camp. When she proudly sits in the middle of the Sun Spot mural my camp bestie (an Evelyn, too) and I painted nearly 20 years ago and grins with pride because she knows that this place is a part of me and so is she.

I try to explain the magic of Merri-Mac to so many people, but I can just see the translation being lost in words. It’s the kind of thing that can only be explained in shared experience, and I am so thankful that I’m able to share it with dear friends, new and old, but mostly with my daughters.

Camp friends, reunited!

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Hunting for worms in puddles #wormgirls

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A rainbow over Initiation

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Tweedles trying to get some rest (ha!)

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Warding off the rain!

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Tweedle Dee-ers

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(I don’t even want to know what they’re plotting, haha!)

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Breakfast (the only semi-healthy meal of the weekend for Emma Vance)

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Post-meal singing, of course!

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“Camp Friends Forever”

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(We’re Camp Friends Forever, too!)

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E.V., the fearless climber!

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Arts ‘n Crafts (perfect for a rainy day)

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Swinging

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Obligatory picture with the camp sign

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Archery (her FAVORITE)

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Visiting 16-Year-Old Talie’s work (and thinking about my own camp Evelyn!)

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Putting those mini Chacos to good use

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FREE SWIMMMM! #littlefish

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More rain…

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Future Chiefs and Braves and Iroquois super stars!

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