I have memories of summer nights that now feel more like faraway dreams. When the sky would be full of stars, the sound of crickets chirping and mosquitoes buzzing filled the dead silence of the night. As a mixture of Spanish and English filled the air, the lingering smell of bug spray and campfire smoke filled my dreams.
With each splash in the old rundown pool, I felt the ease that every summer camping trip brought. I remember the wild turkeys, the same campsite every year, the carving of our initials into the tree as if we would be able to tell which “A.S.” was who.
I remember the time we took a wrong turn on the way back from the faded white pool and stumbled upon a graveyard. I remember feeling scared, but only for a second, as all the paths eventually connected to the center of the sight. I remember the speed at which my cousin inhaled his roasted marshmallows and the sound of his vomiting serving as an alarm clock the next morning.
When the sun would fall behind a wall of clouds, and the rain would come pouring down, I remember the hours spent playing UNO. The laughter that seeped through our tents and swirled around us was a safety blanket from whatever was happening outside.
As we washed away yesterday’s adventures in the rundown showers, the importance of anything but that moment was long forgotten.
Having gone camping for one month every summer until I was the age of eight, I have all these tightly threaded memories of sleepless summer nights, campfire talks and of my festive family. Each year, before we started to get older and the number of attendees to our family trip dwindled, I would stay up late every day before the five-hour journey to the campsite. I would always be filled with too much excitement to even consider resting.
While I now look back fondly at all the summer adventures that took place, camping didn’t teach me any life lessons. While I could make a metaphor out of all the long summer nights or about the summer heat or the chilling summer mornings, camping didn’t teach me some miraculous life lesson that I have carried with me. Camping every summer with my family are memories that I will carry with me forever, but they are just that, memories.