Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reunion #3

Last night I went to my third reunion this spring, the 40th anniversary of the Charles River Creative Arts Program in Dover, and now I am trying to figure out how to get Lily there as a camper.

First, some background: The camp is basically classes of all kinds of arts -- music, drama, textiles and costume design, art of all kind, writing, photography, media, etc. Also swimming and Ultimate and stuff like that. The day is broken into about six periods and a kid makes her schedule out of 130+ classes. It's all by choice and availability. So you could have Show Tunes first period and costume design second and cartooning third and ceramics fourth, stuff like that. There's a constant buzz of energy and creativity. I think 500+ kids, and outstanding teachers, experts in every area.

This is from the camp's website: "On the last day of each four-week session, the performing and visual arts created by campers are displayed and performed in an Arts Festival. Families and friends are welcome and encouraged to participate. The festival will conclude with an evening performance of the program's original musical with all elements produced and performed by students under professional direction."

It's gotten lots of grants and support over the years and has turned into a model for arts camps all over the country. Really wonderful program. I went to the camp in the seventies as a camper when I was 11 and 12, and then as a CIT when I was 15 and 16, I think. For almost the entire time it's been run by two members of the Dewey family, Nissy Dewey, now in her late 80s, who I gather took the camp from what was basically a crazy, disorganized -- but fun -- idea to the shape of it now, and Toby Dewey, her son, who has headed it for many years and has continued to hire extraordinary professionals.

I've been debating going. Reunions are so emotionally draining and I hadn't been back to camp since I left 30 years ago. Dave and Lily didn't want to go, certainly. It's almost two hours away and it was evening event. Yesterday, as I drove to the reunion, I asked myself why was I doing this? I'd been up since five am and at four pm, when I had to leave, had already picked something like 30 pounds of strawberries, cleaned about 20 pounds, had entertained our picking partners and their families for lunch-plus, and was on my way taking two of the kids home.

As I ran down the list, I rejected going to feed my ego, say, look at me and see how I turned out. I didn't go to see anyone I knew, because I didn't think I'd know a soul. It was partly sentimental, to see what the place looked and felt like. But mostly, I went because Toby Dewey asked me to. He was organizing this, it was important to him, he wanted us to go, and I wanted to show up for him. For him, and for the whole Dewey family, who have really made that camp what it is today, an extraordinary, happy, creative, buzzing wild place.

It was so worth it. The first person I saw remembered me, although I didn't remember her until I quite a bit later, and I couldn't fake it. I saw the Deweys (there's also Kippy and Peter, Toby's siblings) especially dear Nissy, who kept encouraging me to write, write, write! I was so talented! She taught a playwriting class I was in, me and Dana and Jenny, I think, and we wrote the August show, Rip's New Wrinkle, about the sleeping guy being out for 200 years, not 20, and waking up in 1972.

And I saw dear Louis Hutchins, probably one of the nicest people from one of the nicest families ever to live, also with his really nice wife. We talked a long time, reminiscing and sharing notes about the crazy, wild seventies, how off the wall they were in some ways. We caught up on families and mutual friends and former camp mates. It was such a gift, to meet him again, and be greeted so warmly, and feel like I had remade a new friend.

I also saw Harley, and Howard, and had a long talk with Howard's partner, and others, and was just thrilled to have made the trek. Thank you, dear Toby. You are a gift, and you gave me a great one by organizing this event, even though I didn't get home until midnight, most of that in a driving rainstorm, caffeinated wildly -- I even stopped at a 7/11 to get coffee, which I never drink, to stave off any hint of doziness -- my hands gripping the steeling wheel, reminding myself I didn't have to go 75 in that storm, just because many others were, the GPS telling me in her clipped British accent where to turn, the iPod set to my song mix, playing very loudly everything from Michael Jackson (RIP) to ABBA to the Stones to Elton John.

I'm a bit burned out today, laying low, taking it easy on this lovely summer morning. Me and the Times and a cup of green tea. And now two blogs in two days! How about that, Kim?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! As my mother would say: Now you're cooking with gas! Can't wait to see you Sunday!


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