Camp Horizon is located in Birch Bay Washington (the site of an old Air Force Station) that provides recreational facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. I was fortunate enough for two, one week sessions, to be an assistant counselor. It is something that has stayed with me for my life, or at least the last 30 years since I did it (1988). I ended up going up to Birch Bay in summer of 2017, and while I was there I decided to go back to the camp and take some photos. In addition I do have a couple of photos from that time.
Funny enough, I had lived in Birch Bay in the fall/winter of 1987 at the age of 15/16 and I never knew this place existed. Then we moved to Bellingham that spring. There I attended Bellingham High School. When I was at the high school, I somehow got in contact with a nice young man named Russ Nelson. He was the stage/videographer for the high school. To this day I can’t remember how he got me interested, but he talked about Camp Horizon and I should volunteer as an assistant counselor.
This was a new thing for me. I had just gotten done being homeless for a year+ and then living in Birch Bay (once again I didn’t know this place existed). I thought this wouldn’t be bad to start with on my resume. I believe it paid $50 for the first week and if I went the second week it went up to $75 (although I could be off a bit). So I agreed to it. Russ was kind enough to drive me to the camp (which was about 30 miles from my home).
I got to the camp, met several other assistant counselors (and a couple of college aged counselors) and began my short lived career as a camp counselor. We were there for five days each session I believe and our days consisted of bunking in the dorms, getting up, running classes, movies, gym activities, and most importantly just being there for the campers.
It was the first time I worked with people more disadvantaged than me and I loved it completely. I will be honest though, it probably helped that I had regular meals, recreational activities and no drunk parents (they were in a bad place at this time). To this day I still remember Dayleen (I am sure I did not spell that right). A young girl who was deaf, with some developmental disabilities and I believe cerebral palsy. It is because of her that I learned my numbers and letters in American Sign Language, along with the way to say “Cookie Monster” and a couple of other phrases.
My three strongest memories were waking up and hearing “I wanna dance with someone” by Whitney Houston, going downstairs and meeting up with Dayleen. I don’t remember exactly what we were working on, I just remember her being so excited about us playing and her signing “Lucky” or some variation of it when she saw me. Sadly I had a picture of her but once we started moving a lot as an older teen, it disappeared in one of our many homeless moments.
My second strongest memory was wrapping up my first session and feeling incredibly sad that it was over. It was followed up with getting home and my parents were on a run. There was loud arguments, loud music and much drinking by several people. I just remember wishing I was still at camp.
My third memory was Melody (I think her name was Melody, not Meloney, but I could be wrong). She was one of my many unrequited loves. I was very quiet as a teenager at this time, and I never figured out how to ask her out, or do pretty much anything. However, my favorite memory with her was laying under a tree, next to her and talking for a long time (probably longer than I should have since I was after all a counselor).
The two sessions went by very quickly and before I knew it I went home and collected my check for the two weeks. I believe I bought my parents an anniversary present and my brother a birthday present with it, never spent a dime on myself (I think the remaining went to house bills). I never was able to go back the following year. This was because by that time I was working full time and supporting my family.
Fast forward to summer of 2017 and we went up to Birch bay and stopped by the camp. Surprisingly there were people readying the camp for this summer and we talked with them. They are up to 6 or 7 weeks a year of sessions and they have been constantly updating the place. They were kind enough to let me take some pictures. So below is our gallery and it includes photos from my adventure and last weekend. I know we had other photos, if I find them I will add them.
Last night I had a lot of dreams, most of which I can’t remember. There was an anxiety to those dreams that I suspect comes from my toothache and my foot fracture both hurting (yes, they found out Friday my foot is still broken from October).
The one dream I remember has to do with my dad. He was a bit younger, maybe in mid-late fifties and he was just chatting at me. He was concerned about something for me and we just kept talking in what I think was a living room in a house.
He insisted that I needed to learn how to fold the blankets and he handed me some of the blankets we used when I was a child. It was really important for him. For some reason that made me sad
There was a part of me of course wondering in the superstitious part of my mind if he was trying to tell me something, but I know logically the only thing that might have been telling myself something was my subconscious.
Either way it wasn’t a bad dream, just a bit anxious. I am sure it has to do with my health stuff and coming up and the anniversary of my dad passing. Either way, this morning is going pretty well if a little tired. Full of me looking at what to do in the future.
I have always had a weird love/hate relationship with food resulting in some issues. I do emotionally eat, counting calories freaks me out and I have the hardest time leaving food on the table.
I grew up extremely poor (living in a car poor). This meant from the age of 8 or 9 on we were on food stamps. Contrary to what the DSHS people said back then (and the conservatives) they do not give you enough food stamps to feed a family. Nowadays DSHS just say its only supposed “augment” someone, not be the sole food support. That is all fine and good if you are a single or adult couple, but anyone who seriously thinks its ok to only “augment” feeding a child is full of shit.
We ate well at the beginning of the month (no, it wasn’t all steak and caviar, fuck you conservatives). By the middle of the month the food was running out and we were living off of food bank contributions. By the end of the month there was donating blood and whatever other ways to scrounge up the money. All of this meant I had stretch marks on my hips and belly.
You heard me right, as a teenager I was skinny, and the weight fluctuations between the beginning of the month and the end of the month left stretch marks on my sides and belly that were there until my early 20s. The girls I was intimate with were usually disturbed by it. Even Wolsey commented on it when we started dating. I didn’t understand that stretch marks weren’t normal. I had just assumed that was normal.
Food was a big deal in my family. If there was a holiday, or if some emotional trauma occurred my parents would beg, borrow or sell things to buy us something special. On the super rare times, we went out to eat, we finished everything brought to us. Hell, we finished everything at home for the same reasons. You never walked away from your plate with any food on it.
Things have been weird now for 25 years. I have always been ok with food security since I moved in with my husband, I have been in a stable relationship and within a few years my stretch marks left. We have always made enough to cover our bills and groceries and this scarcity hasn’t been an issue.However, I still fight with the following:
- I literally have to force myself not to eat all my food on my plate, especially when I am in a restaurant. It freaks me out that it is a waste of money (which it isn’t, and I can afford easily anyways). The thing is I logically know this even if it bothers me a lot.
- I can afford to emotionally eat. While it was a great internal relief as a child/teen because it was a rare occurrence, nowadays if I am upset I crave sugar, especially something like jelly beans and licorice I can buy it at will (and I do some of the time).
- The worst part is counting calories. I don’t know why, but it makes everything else in my life just explode. I can follow a regimen, eat the same thing every day, but I then get compulsive in checking. Then I just get aggravated, then the hubby gets my venting. We have tried it off and on for years, but counting calories, and diets in general do not work for me. The panic attacks are not worth it. I still can’t tie out why this bothers me.
I thought I would just ramble about this because I am looking at working out more. I would like to build up my stamina (and hey, losing fat isn’t a bad thing). I know that diet is more effective, but I don’t see myself changing my eating habits by a lot. So, I guess I am just explaining why a diet isn’t part of my future conversations about working out. I will try and eat a bit better, but no calorie counting, or crazy (e.g. stupid) diets.
Today was a sharing day.
I was looking out the window tonight and was feeling a little maudlin, maybe even a little anxious. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that (well besides just getting back from training for two weeks and still working out the losses of last year). That is when I realized today is February first and it got me thinking about things, especially about dates.
Dates are a funny thing. I don’t mean holidays like Christmas, or dates like a person’s birthday, wedding or some other special occasion. I mean specific days of the month.
For me the first of the month has always been an important day. True, it is important to others so they can pay their rent, or to mark the passing of a new month, but for me, for so much of my life, it meant more than that.
Unless you grew up in absolute poverty like me you wouldn’t really understand. When your family’s entire ability to eat, sleep and have electricity rely on a specific date that the check would come, you developed coping habits. The 1st was something all the poor families around us sort of focused our attention on it. It was something to look forward to, almost some sort to “savior”. It was a time when things would be ok for a short while.
I remember growing up and being hungry at the end of the month. Watching my parents not eat for a week at a time and our electricity had been shut off, hoping for the check to come. Things were extreme enough that I had stretch marks on my abdomen because I gained and lost weight so much that lasted for years after I moved out. When Wolsey first dated me he would run his fingers along them, I think they bothered him.
The money showing up would be like a godsend, and for a few days at least you would eat food, the lights would be on and maybe you could go to a store.
It was also a time of anxiety. My parents were heavy alcoholics and the first of the month meant they would drink, which brought its own issues. I was fortunate, they would try to quit for weeks or months at a time, but alcoholism is very difficult and it would return. While I would hope for the first to come quickly, I also dreaded it.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had stretch marks for a long time. I have eaten fairly well, even when Wolsey and I were poor. The only time we had a repeat of this was when Wolsey and I were going to school and we would wait for our quarterly student loans, then divide that money up and budget for the next three months.
However, even for the last twenty years the first of the month still had a big meaning. My parents never got better financially on their own, by the time they had sobered up their bodies were too broken to work. We were able to step in and help, but I watched every month as they tried to keep things going with not enough social security and food stamps (no family of two can get by on $850 a month between the two, especially when rent itself was $675).
This meant Wolsey and I would help out at the end of the month. We went out of our way to not ever get paid back. We didn’t mind helping them, and the last thing we would want to do is make it harder for them by having them pay us on the first. But even up until last July, the 1st of the month carried a lot of meaning for my family, and in turn for me.
It has been weird the last six months since Mom passed. We have been able to focus on our own bills and for the first time ever in our relationship we didn’t have to consider my parents and how long until they got their check on the first. I know we are better off financially and worry wise now that we aren’t helping support them, but I still can’t stop from being maudlin occasionally, and even now, the first of the month is still an important date.
We were talking on a different thread so I thought I would post this about Boy Scouts.
My most memorable boy scout moment was when we went on a four day three night campout on the ocean. Let’s begin this by saying my family was too poor to own a camping back pack, I had to use a suitcase and a bag (damn I hated being poor as a kid). The events started when we arrived at the parking lot (on the coast) and realized we had forgotten our tent polls. This resulted in us having to sleep under park benches (with the tent strung across it) after walking five miles to the beach.
The first night we got there we buried our food because we were too tired to want to hang it (me and two other scouts, the rest hung their food, we should have followed suit). The bears ate the food except for top ramen and grape kool-aid that night. Needless to say the Scout Master was pissed at us. That is what we subsisted off for the next three days.
Next evening we got caught out on a spit with a huge hill that extended into the ocean (I am sure it is a hill now, but at that age it felt like a small mountain) so we spent a cold night with no tent huddled for warmth.
By the third night we ended up sick with a stomach bug and was puking. The pic is of me (in the yellow raincoat) on the fourth day, the meal we were eating before we were hiking out. My assistant scout master gave me some oatmeal, since I had been stuck with Top Ramen for three days.
Our full scout master was a good guy, but he had us live off what we brought as a lesson… Ya it was like that
Though this was 30 years ago or so on the ocean side.
I remember growing up in the ’70’s and early-mid ’80s. Halloween was the best holiday ever. We would get dressed and by 6pm my parents would take us out to hit up the neighborhood.
I remember getting home around 8ish, with an entire pillowcase full of candy. Even though we would eat so much candy on Halloween that we would get sick we still always had enough candy to to last late into November.
I remember the smiling faces of people handing out candy, and the race to hit all the “good” houses before they ran out. This nebulous running out almost never happened but we were always worried. Up until I was 11 we would hit up our 80 unit apartment complex and then venture out into the projects (we lived in the projects, but for some reason we never thought of our complex as part of the projects, then again my friends who lived in “the projects” never thought their places were in the projects but that I lived in them).
It was such a cool experience, a lot of the older people went all out with decorations and would always talk with each child about their costume. I remember a couple of older couples that gave out full size candy bars, not the weeny little bars, they of course were our childhood favorite places to trick or treat.
For the last 10 years we have gotten almost no trick or treaters to our door. Yes the whole poison and razor blade scare freaks people out. But as it turns out all of the poison incidents turned out to be family members of the victim. Yet the media hypes the fear and erodes our trust in our neighbors. Unfortunately this is just a sad symptom of the rest of society’s paranoia and trust.
For the last five years the only trick or treaters were my nephew and niece and once we had a little boy in a tiger suit. LOL of course he got almost a whole bag of candy from us (we had like 4 bags and no other trick or treaters) he was so cute.
I am kind of sad about what is happening. Sure the mall is neat, but the entire outlook of taking your kids around the neighborhood was such a cool thing. Sadly enough I kind of looked forward to decorating the house, having candy and maybe even setting up a way to scare the little trick or treaters. At least that was my desire when I got too old to trick or treat myself. But here I am 18-20 years later since I went trick or treating myself and I no longer really try and decorate and this year is the first year I didn’t even buy a “just in case a kid shows up” bag of candy.
It really does sadden me. I don’t think the reason trick or treating stopped is because there was any real danger, rather I think as a society we have gotten so scared and so overly paranoid that its destroying what actually made us a great society.
I never thought I would ever think of the “good old days” but at least with Halloween that seems to be the case (of course its great its my wedding anniversary as well, but just sad about the whole trick or treat thing).
Well I had a rather bizarre dream that involved me sitting at a restaurant, I came out to find someone had plowed into the back of my pickup (the rusty blue GMC we currently own) and they had totaled thier car and my car, funny enough I wasn’t really angry, just sort of like “damn”.
then I woke up remembering when I lived with my parents at 12 pines apartments when I was about 3 or so years old. I remembered an old prayer my parents taught me.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the lord my soul to keep,
If I die before I wake,
I pray the lord my soul to take,
Keep Dum Dum, Louis, Tweety,
Mommy and Daddy,
Granny and Grandpa,
Grandma and Grandpa,
Linny and Wally
and Lucky Safe.
I know I had to be age 3 because by age four I had a sister (who is not in the prayer and I guarantee my parents made me put her name in), my uncle Louis (whom my middle name is based on) died in a construction accident and about age four is when Linny and Wally disappeared (they were my god parents, Linny was an American and Wally was a golden glove boxer from Aussie) and dum dum and tweety both parakeets were gone by age 5.
I am not sure why I am even posting this, its wierd, memories from back then almost dont seem real, I worry they are figments of my imagination but my parents agree thats what happened and I am remembering pretty well.
still not sure why I am posting this, just something I woke up thinking about.
I had a rather strange dream last night. I dreamt I went to see a movie by myself. I paid the teller for the movie with a$10.00 bill and the teller only gave me a ticket back (the movie cost $7.00). When I got out of the movie, the wife met up with me and I decided to go see another movie. I went up to this pretty asian girl and asked if I could get a ticket for a different movie. She asked which movie and I told her to pick one for me. I then explained that I didn’t get all my change back and instead could I just get the second ticket. After looking through her til she said sure.
While waiting for the movie me and the wife went into the bathroom (she was waiting for me) and while I was peeing this drunk hick looking guy came walking in. He was mumbling to himself and holding a ratty piece of paper. He looked up and me and proclaimed my name loudly and asked me how I had been. I smiled at him and told him fine, I thought I recognized him from middle school. If my memory serves me correct he was supposed to be the grown up version of a friend named Corey McCarter.
I asked him how he was doing, he replied life sucked. I asked about his kids (for some reason I thought he had kids right out of high school). He replied that none of them were his (this is all still in the bathroom). I told him I was sorry and he started waving around the piece of paper saying its one of my songs/poems I wrote back then.
Everything kinda blurred out and I am not sure what happened except that W was asking about the song/poem. I looked down (I was now holding the piece of paper) it looked like some sort of creative writing homework. It wasn’t very good and I didn’t know why he liked it so much and was singing/quoting it drunkenly.
I then woke up wondering how my old Friends Corey McCarter, Robert White (my closest male friend growing up) and Veronica Welch (my best friend/tomboy/first crush) were doing. I haven’t seen Corey or Robert since I was 14 and I got in trouble for playing D&D with them (then we moved to Lake Stevens and then Cali then up here). Veronica (whom I had always called Ronnie) I did see once when I was in Everett at age 16-17. She grew up from being a skinny tomboy to being a damn attractive girl.
I wonder how they are all doing.