Raking leaves under a fall of snowflakes is status quo for me at the Great Camp Sagamore volunteer work weekends, whether it be May or October. It may seem extreme, but it is the mountains, after all. What a curious place, Great Camp Sagamore, existing in another time. No riding mowers or leaf blowers for this clean up crew, just rakes and shovels and tarps that had been previously been used for raven mitigation. That was a whole separate job that I was not willing to volunteer for (although Dana did!) that involved raven shit being cleaned off roofs. I get enough shit at work. I am Queen Pee after all. Leaves piled on tarps are transported to a secluded section of woods and unceremoniously dumped onto other huge piles of leaves. And so it goes, every other season, fall and then spring and then fall again. No matter what the season, and what the weather, you could always find Dan wearing his trademark shorts.
My mom excitedly introduced me to John, a guy that she and her grandtwins got to know this past summer at Great Camp Sagamore. “This is John! Ty really enjoyed him this summer”, she exclaimed with a huge grin. I smiled.”Nice to meet you. It sounds like you had a great time with my mom!” This happens all the time, whether it is church or the bookstore or at one of my band gigs. So many times someone has said to me, “Are you a Horan? Are you related to Carole?” And my answer is always yes. My mom collects people the way some people collect stamps or shells.
From a very young age, our family dinners always included others, whether it was one of our friends or someone living with us. An overfull table didn’t seem out of place. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that most people only ate with their nuclear families. And it wasn’t just food we shared, it was also our space. We moved to the Near West Side when I was 11, and the two family house provided all the space we needed for our family of 9, plus whoever. Here’s a pic of the seven of us with some guy named Tony we picked up along the way. My parents wanted to help out in the neighborhood and at St Lucy’s church, and that included giving shelter to those who needed it. The upstairs mirrored the downstairs, and it was really fun for the kids to have our bedrooms be in the kitchen or the living room. I paired with most of my siblings throughout my time there, and once Judy and I got the front room with the balcony! There were a lot of us but there was always room for one more at Our Father’s House.
I am offering a list of a different sort in this post. This weekend I went to Great Camp Sagamore to participate in a volunteer work weekend. My time there was full of fun and laughter. Here is my experience by the numbers….
0…..Number of black fly bites I bragged about receiving
1……Number of black fly bites I actually received
1……Number of long lost daughters I reconnected with (Hi Eva!)
1……Number of bloggers I met (Hi Michelle!)
2……Number of Bryans with a ‘y’
3……Number of Debbies
3……Number of times I reported for early morning kitchen duty
3……Number of tambourine songs Day Ja Voo played for me
4……Number of gorgeous days at Great Camp Sagamore
6……Number of times Charlie asked me “Haven’t we got ridden of you yet?
7……Number of fun people I worked with in the kitchen crew
9……Number of times my Mom told me she just knew I would love this place
13……Number of times I thanked Chick and Bryan for bringing me
17……Number of times I bragged about Day Ja Voo to anyone who would listen
18…..Number of days until I get to go back to Great Camp Sagamore
19……Number of times I lost a game of spoons
28……Number of times I heard the Burdick sisters laugh
Weekend volunteering at Great Camp Sagamore: PRICELESS