I recently heard the chirp of a smoke detector as I walked down the hallway of my apartment building. As is the magic of sense memory, I was immediately transported to a familiar springtime walk through the camp grounds, brown leaves crunching beneath my boots on the damp earth.
I’ve been lucky to partake frequently in the art of the springtime Mishawaka walk during my time at camp, and let me tell you: there is no better way to snap out of the trance put upon by a freshly thawed day in northern Minnesota than to realize you’re being slowly followed by one hundred dying smoke detectors.
It’s a sound I’ve admittedly grown to love, because it’s truly one of the first signs of spring at camp. Before the lake melts and the trees fill in and the birds start their songs, you will undoubtedly encounter a cry for help from a lone smoke detector, somewhere in the distance, determined to make its presence known.
It’s not a fun or glamorous task—walking from cabin to cabin with a stack of 9 Volt batteries under your arm, trying to keep the fresh ones from the recyclables, slowly quelling the surprisingly harmonious chorus of tweets. Glamour isn’t a big part of the life of a summer camp professional, anyway. There is something satisfying though, starting at one side of camp and making your way to the other, rousing the place from its deep winter hibernation.
Signs of the summer gone by undoubtedly remain—a forgotten towel here, a bottle of sunscreen there. But more than anything, it’s the prospect of the season soon-to-come that is the best part. Soon enough, you won’t be able to see the lake from the office window. You’ll have to strain to hear the dining hall bell through the all the foliage from the Valley. Real live horses will take their rightful spots in the stables, and in turn, the sailboats will take theirs on the lakeshore. Heads will rest on pillows, towels will dry on clotheslines, screen doors will slam shut as their inhabitants run off to play tetherball.
In the meantime, though, we’ll be taking in the twitter of the smoke detectors.
Greta, Girls Camp Program Director