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  • When I was eight years old [1950] I got bundled off to Camp Tekakwitha for the summer. The usual stay was two weeks but special arrangements were made for me and I was there for the entire eight week season. My mother, who suffered from nervous disorders, was undergoing shock treatments and it was decided to ship me off so that she would have space and time to recover. I remember tip toeing into her darkened bedroom to kiss her on the forehead goodbye. She did not respond.

    We traveled up mostly two lane highways to Lake Luzern from Waterford, a distance of around 45 miles. My parents didn’t have a car so a neighbor drove. I quickly got car sick [remember cloth seats in the summer?] and was miserable for the entire trip. When we went through Saratoga I was fascinated by the line of boarding houses with front porches peopled by Orthodox Jews sitting in rocking chairs. They were there to “take the waters” [mineral baths], that the city is famous for. The Grand Union Hotel, at one point touted as the biggest hotel in the world, was still there but it was all boarded up. [It was demolished in 1953 and replaced by a shopping center – yuk!]

    I arrived at Camp Tekakwitha and was promptly assigned to bunkhouse #12. We were early so I managed to get a top bunk. The bunkhouse was rudimentary to say the least. There were eight bunks per house not including the single bed that our counselor slept in. The large slab windows were without screens but could be closed with hinged covers when it rained. As the day wore on the bunkhouse filled and us “campers” got to know each other. Homesickness engulfed a couple of the boys who disappeared the next day while we were engaged in one of the usual camp activities. That repeated itself throughout the summer.

    The camp was run by the Catholic Diocese in Albany and staffed by young seminarians who were the counselors and who ran the daily program. Mass was every morning but that was the extent of anything that looked or sounded like religion.

    The summer went quickly and I returned home to a mother who still wept a lot but was much better than she had been the day that I left. The months flew by as only they can for young children growing up in a small town. One day the mail arrived and it was an invitation to the Christmas party for campers in Albany. I couldn’t wait to reacquaint myself with the friends that I had made and with the counselors. The party was great and Santa duly arrived to give out gifts. But before he reached into his bag the head counselor called me up and gave me a book of boy’s stories. He remarked that, during the entire eight weeks at the camp he had never seen me without a book. He declared that someday I would become a librarian.

    I did not know it at the time but the seed had been planted that grew into reality when, in 1964, I started work as a librarian. So, for the last 48 years I have been in a profession that I truly love and I have never regretted my choice. Thank you Camp Tekakwitha.

    See also my Cowbird story entitled: "Way to go Kateri"
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