I was thinking about something today. About something that had never put me off until today. About something that I, for whatever reason, only gave a second thought about today, twenty seven years later. About Summer 03’. I suppose at the time I was too young to think anything of it, and had forgotten as I’d grown older. Camp Chekikiwat was always the highlight of my year, I went every summer and have sent my kids every summer too. That was my first time leaving home. I was so excited to go to summer camp. I was six. My favorite counselor helped me unpack all of my things after my parents left. She was really kind, and made sure I wasn’t feeling nervous or scared or anything like that about being away from home. She showed me around the campgrounds and all of the different things they had at Chekikiwat. Throughout the entire week, she made sure to help me with any problems I might have been having, and was super fun too. She taught me how to paddle board and how to make friendship bracelets, and she always saved a cookie for me during snack time to make sure I had one. But the one funny thing about her was, she refused to tell me her name. She gave me anything and everything else a camp counselor could provide, but she would never give me her name. I asked her everyday, and each time she just told me, “Soon.”
On the last night of camp, she came to my window. I was feeling a little bit blue that I had to leave. I told her how she was my favorite camp counselor, and even though I had to go home, I couldn’t wait to see her next summer. She looked at me sadly and told me I would not see her next summer. When I asked her why, she told me it was because she only works at the camp every twenty-seven years, and the only way I could see her is if I went away with her. I was a little bit confused, but excited that I might not have had to go back to school. “Where?” I asked her. She grinned at me real wide and said, “Somewhere where it’s summer all year long!” She told me I could swim and make s’mores all year round. We would have been able to sit around the campfire all year 'round, with all the rest of her friends. She said that if I came with her, she would tell me her name. I was a little bit scared that she wanted to take me out of the cabin after dark, since that was one of the biggest rules at the camp, but I trusted her.
So I went with her. She held my hand and walked me to the lake. It was a very foggy night, and I remember that I couldn’t see the moon. She told me to step into the water. I was about to join her in the water but something stopped me in my tracks. I can’t quite tell you what it was, but when I looked to my right I could swear I saw a little girl. She didn’t seem to be quite physically there, and was almost other-worldly. She was only there for a second, and disappeared when I took a closer look. I almost forgot about my counselor in the water. She was begging me to come in with her.
I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what changed my mind that night, but something was telling me to stay the hell out of that water. I bolted. I turned and ran as fast as I could back to the safety of my cabin.
I never saw her again, but the next day one of the boys from the cabin next door disappeared. He was never found. I didn’t know him but supposedly he left a note on his bed saying he left with Josie, his favorite counselor. The camp staff said that no one had ever worked at the camp whose name was Josie.
Today is the twenty seventh anniversary of that night. Today, I got a phone call from the camp telling me my daughter didn’t wake up in her bed this morning. They searched all of the campgrounds but she was nowhere to be found. They told me she left a note that said she was leaving to go to a year-long camp with her favorite counselor, Josie.
She hadn't forgotten me.
And for that, my child paid the price.