the finest camp in all the land. Here’s to boys and girls, the happy-hearted 4-H band. Ra-ra-ra. Where ‘ere we roam among those West Virginia hills, we’ll strive to live what we learned at 4-H camp at Jackson’s Mill. Raaaa-raaa-raaa
I spent last week at one of my most favorite places on earth. Jackson’s Mill, West Virginia’s state 4-H camp.
Throughout my teenage years, I camped at Jackson’s Mill every summer. I met people from all over the state and formed lifelong friendships. I hadn’t stayed at The Mill since 1999, when I took baby Lauren and Rachel-in-the-womb and spent a week as a counselor. Ten years is a long time to be away from a place you love so much! What a treat it was to be back last week!
The first night at Council Circle (the nightly campfire for you non-4-Hers), a small group sang My Home Among The Hills and I cried like a baby. As we sang the same songs I sang when I was 15, sitting with some of the same people I camped with when I was 15, — well, you know that feeling when you sigh deeply and just feel at home in a place? That’s how I felt all week.
I even remembered the steps to folk dances I hadn’t danced in more than 10 years. And the words to songs I hadn’t sung in 10 years. And I enjoyed meals with friends I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years. And I can’t say for sure, but the egg-like-product patties they served for breakfast one morning might have been at least 10 years old.
My friend Forrest builds the best Council Circle fires. This isn’t a picture of his fire. I snapped this picture on Sunday night at the first Council Circle, and Forrest wasn’t in camp yet. But his fires were amazing and artistic and fun. You’ll have to take my word for it.
And that boy in the blue — he’s the one whose phone started ringing in the middle of the Council Circle. And his ringtone was a very non-4-Hy song. Bless his heart, he was embarrassed! He couldn’t get it to stop playing that obnoxious song, and he was wrapping it in his shirt to muffle the sound. He should really choose a different, less-embarrassing ringtone.
And this hillbilly-looking guy in the overalls is Lars. He is a fabulous musician and extremely hilarious. His fiddle-playing was a highlight of my week.
On Monday, my daughter Rachel joined me at camp. For around 27 hours, she got to experience 4-H camp. I loved sharing Jackson’s Mill with her. And she quickly made a friend, little Sadie, the daughter of another counselor. Rachel and Sadie danced and danced and danced during the night-time recreation hour, then little Rachel, the daughter of people I camped with years ago, joined them. I’ve never seen three little girls twirl so much!
And on the final morning, the camp chorus sang My Home Among The Hills and Come Home To West Virginia and, again, I cried like a baby. I probably would have just let a couple simple tears stream down my cheeks, but Jerry, another counselor, actually called his daughter in Florida, who really wanted to be at camp, and held the phone up for her to hear My Home Among The Hills. That just pushed me over the edge. It’s all Jerry’s fault that I cried like a baby.
I love Jackson’s Mill. It really is the finest camp in all the land. Ra. Ra. Ra.