Second generation Shewahmegonites

13 Jul 2010 by Jim Gibbons, No Comments »

From left to right: Tim Bergstrom, Ryan Bergstorm, Me (Jim Gibbons), Dan Gibbons and Lexie Gibbons. Photo presumably taken by my mom.

This picture is from Dan and my first year at camp: 1995. I’d be 11-years-old here and Dan would have been 9 or 10. The photo features my cousin Ryan and my cousin Tim. (Who are cousins to each other as well, not brothers.) Ryan, Tim, Dan and I were all second generation campers at Shewahmegon. Ryan’s dad, my uncle George (the oldest of the my mom’s siblings), made Shewahmegon his summer home as a camper for many years and then as a staff member. Tim’s dad, my uncle Jim (and the second oldest of my mom’s siblings), did the same. Though Shewahmegon was a boy’s camp, my mom spent some time up there as she was friends with one of the camp owners’ daughters. So, Dan and I were more or less second generation, as well.

Based on the fact that we’re all in our Sunday whites and my sister is in the photo, this must have been taken on Parent’s Visiting Weekend, which occurred after campers had been at Shewahmegon for four weeks. Why we wore whites for matins must have been explained to me at some point, but I now presume it was because we weren’t going to bring our Sunday best to camp and what we wore the rest of the time was pretty filthy. Camp is a ton of fun, but it’s not a very clean place. Sanitary? Sure! But not many clothes made the return trip down from Northern Wisconsin without sustaining a considerable amount of dirt or food stains and other wear-and-tear damage.

Behind us you can see Shewahmegon’s beautiful waterfront area and Lake Owen.

I went home with my parents at the end of visiting weekend that year instead of staying the full seven weeks. It was a huge mistake. Much as I loved my first bit of camp, I felt like I was missing out on stuff at home. I wanted to get back to swimming in a pool instead of a lake and playing video games or watching TV instead of paying Capture The Flag. I got home and was reminded how ridiculously boring summer can often be. You can only ride your bike around the same few streets for a certain amount of time before you realize that the comparatively limitless amount of activities you could be enjoying at camp is a far superior way to spend your summer.

That was the only summer I went home early in my seven years at Shewahmegon. My other four years as a camper, I stayed for the full seven weeks. The two years I was on staff, I was up there even longer helping set up during pre-camp and tear down during post-camp. By that final year (mine as well as camp’s), Shewahmegon and the people I saw there every summer had become such a special part of my life that the fact those extra weeks up there were primarily devoted to raking leaves and hauling brush for hours on end, well… it wasn’t too bad considering the company and the scenery.

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