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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ Life in the Day Camp

Golf Clubs 2DIRTY DANCING? Hmm…not exactly…

Work before play. Work before play. That’s the philosophy my DH and I have followed since we married a million years ago. We’ve tried to live our lives responsibly. I’m sure you’ve done the same. We’ve worked hard while raising a family, contributing to the community and making friends. In what seems like the blink of an eye, however, my golfer guy is now chasing a little white ball over a sea of green grass  every day and loving it. I wonder what happened to our old routine.. What happened to “going to work?”

“I am working,” says Mike. “I’m working on my golf game.”

Ah, yes. the golf game. Absolutely. And the fishing club. And the softball league, pickle ball game and the Dine-Around group. Let’s not forget the poker game at the clubhouse. And while we’re at the clubhouse, don’t forget about the swimming pool…and the pool table. Others who live here are still working real jobs.  Ahem…that would be me. But with our move to the Sunshine state, the truth is that we live in a day camp for adults.

This is not my first experience with day camps. No indeed. Remember the movie Dirty Dancing? A sleeper that became a huge hit with Jennifer Gray and the late Patrick Swayze who played a dance instructor at a resort hotel for wealthy vacationers.. The movie was set in 1963, in the Catskill Mountains of New York about a hundred miles north of the city.

I spent many childhood summers in the Catskills. However, I was not wealthy and did not stay at a resort hotel. My family rented a little cottage at one of the many “bungalow colonies” for which the area was famous. A few hundred dollars bought us an escape from the concrete heat of the city during July and August. More important, the Catskills provided a possible escape from the polio virus, infamous for summer attacks in urban areas. And so my family schlepped “to the country” each summer, the car loaded with pots, pans, bedding, dishes – everything we’d need to sustain us through the season.

Every bungalow colony had a day camp for children. After all, mothers needed a break, too. Whether it was arts & crafts, nature walks, swimming, knock-hockey, punchball, softball, blueberry picking, or campfires with ghost stories, the kids were kept busy from morning til night.  Every bungalow colony also had a casino–not the gambling kind–but a big social hall for adult parties and shows on Saturday night. These were the  places where the comedians and entertainers of the time honed their skills and sharpened their acts. Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Eddie Fisher…they all found their way to these summer audiences. But the parents agreed that the best talent show of all was the one put on by their kids in the day camp.

Last month I attended a talent show by the “kids” in my day camp for adults. A home grown entertainment that was second to none this year. As though the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland hovered over the place and cast, the “Let’s put on a show” theme had imbued this day camp. On the big night, the turnout in both talent and audience was exceptional.

So now that this day camper and her golfer guy live in a 55 and better community, what has changed about day camp from our earlier years?

Not a darn thing! The fun activities and making new friends are still part of the schedule. And if the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is a little shorter, or more time is spent fishing instead of running bases…well, some accommodation is to be expected as gray begins to dominate our natural hair color. (Not that it dominates for very long around here!)  We might not be up for some “dirty dancing,” but the dance floor is definitely crowded on New Year’s Eve.

From those bungalow  colonies in the Catskills to this day camp for active retirees, my life echoes the past. I’m holding onto the happy times and the loving memories of family long gone. I’ve  become an older iteration of who I once was, proving once again that the “child is father of the man.” Or, as a famous sailor enjoyed repeating, “I yam who I yam.”

What have you held onto from your childhood? Can you recognize yourself in the mirror of time? Has your life come full circle?

CONTEST NEWS!!  I’m thrilled to add a fabulous prize to this month’s drawing.  Five authors from OnFireFiction are offering a five story romance package called: LOVE ME SOME COWBOY. Each story is a full novel from Lisa Mondello, Jean Brashear, Barbara McMahon, Day Leclaire and Ginger Chambers. I’m a member of OnFireFiction and am happy to provide this terrific prize in addition to a copy of FAMILY INTERRUPTED.

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package

Post a comment and have your name added to this  drawing!! Contest runs through May 31st.

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As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.