Merc, his camp name, aka Cedric, was retrieved from Camp Tadmor yesterday afternoon after spending two months living in the wild eating bugs and wild berries, and feral rats as a member of a group of super heroes who monitor camping activities of hundreds of younger, severely advanced members of homo erectus from all over the world. He slept on the ground, without benefit of blanket or pillow, and has permanent dents in his sides and back that look a lot like pine cones, small rocks, large bugs, mice, birds, and other debris that typically litter the forest floor of this camp located a bit SE of Lebanon, Oregon. There’s talk about having these impressions tattooed to ensure he retains the memory on the off-chance they fade over time.
Diane, her Mom, Jean, and I traversed the harrowing I-5 corridor from Portland, artfully dodging drivers from neighboring states, who are apparently allowed to disregard some pretty basic driving laws, to retrieve Merc from the tenacious clutches of his fellow campers and counselors so he could be returned to civilization to prepare for his Junior year of High School.
On the trip down, the Buick’s A/C decided to go on the fritz making the vehicle interior a bit uncomfortable in the near-90 degree heat, but we persevered and arrived safely. When we arrived we visited with some adults who are part of the camp’s permanent crew, one of which was Ruby who is about 1. Very cute. With dimples. She looked at me in a ho-hum manner but lit right up with a big smile when Diane sauntered over. We suspect it was because of her natural affinity to like anyone who looks like a Grandma.
We didn’t have to wait long for the tour bus to arrive, bringing the campers back from their 2-day trip to Sisters, Oregon where they were encouraged to frolic in a river. Each person was given a bar of soap prior to the raft trip which they used to scrub away two months of grime they had accumulated as there are no showers at the camp and they aren’t allowed to contaminate the local streams in an effort to remain shiny.
As they exited the bus, it was readily evident that each of them had experienced a profound event, made life-long friendships, and were a bit sad to be leaving. But, leave they must. First, however, it was apparently mandatory that all of the girls who attended had to hug Merc. They lined up in two rows and waited their turn for a short time, then they all flocked to him leaving us only a small glimpse of the baseball had he was wearing. We had to pry the last three girls off him so we could get him to the Buick and begin the trip home. One of the girls broke down and sobbed. It was very touching, but Merc’s family was waiting for his return back in St. Helens and we had to go. He understood the need, as did the sobbing girl.
The trip home, for Merc, was filled with a constant stream of text messages with those he had just left, as well as all his family at home. His phone was DOA at the beginning of the trip, but i just happened to have a charger which we hooked up so he could get busy with his texting.
I don’t think he quit smiling during the entire 2.5 hour trip home.
When we arrived, he was greeted in the driveway by his Mom, Jennifer, Dad, Daniel, Sister, Lydia, and brother, Jeran. We stood around visiting for a few minutes before he went into the house where he discovered that about 10 of his friends had gathered to welcome him home. It was a touching scene, replacing his recent sense of loss with one of incredible gain.
It was a great day.
Sadly, I do not have any photos of either the departure or arrival home, but I do have one of Merc in a truck that a group of his fellow campers liberated it from a local farmer who inadvertently left it in his corn field from which the group was gathering food for one of their meals.
No doubt you have all guessed that the foregoing narrative, with the exception of the touchy-feely aspects of the camp departure, and home arrival, are pure gibberish. Lot’s of it is true, but most of it isn’t.
Camp Tadmor is a Christian camp where most of the activities I related are discouraged. It’s a great place, actually. It’s all about caring for one another and getting in touch with ones inner self. Cedric has returned to us with a far more confident outlook and a more firm direction on where his life will go. We’re proud of his efforts and of the fine young man he is.
After he shaves his face, he will be perfect.