Reunion at Camp Iti Kana
|Dogwood – original cabin unit at CIK|
This past weekend, a group of Scouts who camped at and staffed Camp Iti Kana (means “friendship”) spanning the years from the mid 1960s through the 1990s got together for the first of what we hope will be a number of reunion events in the years going forward. Nancy Brown Allen, one my campers, was the lead on this and I joined in to assist.
Logistically – it was a camping trip. Nancy did the groceries. I gathered the cooking stuff and we both did odds and ends. I guessed (correctly) there would be no fireplace grate and took one and incorrectly that there would be a shovel in the unit (we got one from another unit) and forgot, of all the things, the can opener, but with Girl Scout knives we got those peaches open!
The side scoop of this is that a part of the group (including me) now more frequently “camps” at the Hampton rather than in a cabin or a tent! There were 14 of us at CIK on Saturday, though, and most of us stayed in the original established unit for two nights. Several of the ladies still have troops that involve their own girls. The rest of us have moved on to other things. Still – despite ages ranging from late 20s through mid 80s, there was a common thread.
|In front of the Boathouse|
We did the things you do on a fall weekend camping trip – walked the camp (actually I went twice), cooked over the fire, took pictures, looked for tracks (deer and raccoon were there), looked for snakes (in avoidance mode!), did arts and crafts (never my strong suit but our objective was a camp history project that encompassed the first 40ish years when CIK was a part of Gulf Pines Girl Scout Council – it is now a part of Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi). We sang a (very) little and while we had the makings and talked about it a lot – we never made s’mores! And we talked and told stories.
|Troop House Pavillon – I was telling a snake story (there are many!)|
I should confess there were a couple of things we were rusty on – we failed to collect firewood in the daylight (dry) on Friday so we had to start the fire with charcoal Saturday AM. I was reminded when I was cleaning my pots at home yesterday that if you fail to soap it completely, you will always have smoked up pots. I had to figure out why I continued to smell campfire smoke after I showered at home—I had my new LL Bean ball cap on while I was cooking (duh).
|The Pool – spent many hours teaching here!|
It was interesting to me that there are two distinct and separate camping generations at CIK – those of us who started in the 60s and filtered out in the mid-late 70s and those who came in the 80s and filtered out in the 90s. There was little overlap in general, it seems, and no overlap among this group.
I think the last time I was there overnight was in 1977 or 1978 when I spent some vacation time working for about a week as a fill in staffer. Did not matter; the sounds and smells immediately overwhelmed me with memories of earlier days.
Like the rest of the Coastal Counties, CIK is different now post Katrina. There is lush green grass where for years the pine trees were too dense to let the light in and let it grow. It is beautiful, but different.
|Good afternoon conversation – Dogwood Unit Shelter|
There are new pavilions everywhere. One unit that was tents the last time I was there is now filled with ADA compliant cabins with a nice unit shelter. I loved those tents and in one tent unit or the other spent at least five summers. Another unit where I lived as unit director and waterfront director used to be a-frame cabins. It now has similar cabins to the ones that replaced the tents. All the bathhouses have been significantly improved.
The Scouts can thank the Civitans for much of that since the camp is used a lot for their events. Of course all new construction must meet those standards anyway (as they should).
|Finished History Project for Dining Hal|
I think we were all disappointed we could not use the canoes. Among us were at least six former Water Safety Instructors (including me) but all with lapsed certificates AND the health and safety folks now require separate type certifications for the pool versus the lake – (we need to work that out for next time). Saturday would have been the perfect day for it. The lake is now well established and beautiful.
The bridge where Becky and I spent hours talking and dreaming about life has been replaced by a new one (certainly understand that) but the new one does not have a “hump” in the middle. That probably was better for me because walking across was very emotional. That was “our place”. She has been gone 26 years yet as I was checking and clean cabins, somehow I knew she knew where I was. Her mother was there – in her mid 80s and still perking along very well. It was the first time we have really talked about things that were tied to Becky’s BC story. I have avoided opening that wound until recently but this was closure I needed. I knew I would miss her and I did. I missed others who could not come for work and family reasons, too. One day, I believe we will all be together again and what a real reunion that will be.
I was able to spend some extended time with two of my earliest and most influential mentors. Only there for the day Saturday, I recognized them after 35+ years coming down the path and our conversations were as if I saw them yesterday. All three of us hiked one side of the camp then two of us went to the lake for about an hour and covered life since we were last together. It was so refreshing and the highlight of the weekend for me. Our being together reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Edwin Markham we used often during Scouts’ Own over the years: “There is a destiny that makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” Great truth in those words and in my overall Scouting experience in general.
Now on to other things for this fall – Carols is next on my radar – but this was good for my soul.
Still choosing joy!
P.S. Credits for photos go to Nancy Brown Allen, Becky K Tate, and Natalie Von Sprecken Remososki and to me – hope they don’t mind too much that I borrowed them from their FB pages!