There was a pond we kids swam in, we kids who went to Camp Anderson. I was nine years old. It was a Methodist camp near the shores of Lake Wyola in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. A Congregationalist, I wasn't quite sure why I was in the Methodist camp. My friend Bobby Adams was a Methodist. He talked me into talking my parents into letting me go.
The pond we swam in was thick with leeches. We kids would jump in, swim around for a few minutes, then emerge from the not so clear water with leeches attached to our skinny bodies. The counselors would pour salt onto the leeches and peel them off our skin.
It was an awful, ugly, painful experience.
That's one of the things I remember about going to Camp Anderson. Another thing I remember is how torn up I was about having to leave. I'd come down with a bad tooth that needed to be pulled. My parents drove up to Shutesbury, which is about an hour's drive from where we lived. It was a two week camp. There were a couple more days before I was scheduled to go home. But I was leaving early. I remember crying. I didn't want to leave the new friends I had made at the camp.
As I think back on that week and a half at Camp Anderson, I wonder: Was there a method to the madness of the counselors making us swim in that leech filled pond? Everything else I remember about the camp was fun stuff. Playing games and singing songs around the campfire. That kind of stuff. But that pond and those leeches. We campers had to experience that, as well as the fun. And that's the one thing I remember - aside from the tooth that was killing me.
I said I made some new good friends at the camp. I wonder if that would have happened - if it had been nothing but laughs and songs around that crackling fire in the field.
YouTube - Loudon Wainwright III - The Swimming Song