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Camp Memory

My son was recently assigned a paper about a childhood memory. While he was brainstorming on what memory to write about, I couldn’t help but think about a funny childhood camp memory.

When I was about 7, I went to a camp close to home that was located at the mouth of the Neuse River where it meets the Pamlico Sound. If you aren’t familiar with this area, it is a fairly wide body of water and is notorious for being as rough as the ocean, especially during storms and wind. On this particular day at camp, a large group of us were going on a sailing adventure. We had lunch packed and were sailing the little Sunfish sailboats over to an island. There were 2-3 of us per sailboat and a dozen or so sailboats.

It was a beautiful morning and the weather forecast for the day was light winds and no chance of rain or storms. Perfect for kids to take the little sailboats across the sound. However, I was quick to tell the counselors that it was going to storm. They assured all of us that the weather forecast was perfect for the trip and that there was nothing to worry about with the weather. So we all loaded up in the little sailboats and began our trek. It wasn’t a short jaunt, more like a couple hour sail. We made it over to the island, ate lunch, and explored around.

The sky began to cloud up so the counselors decided we should go ahead and sail back and beat any potential weather. Remember this is the mid 80’s so there was no communication with camp as to any changes in the weather forecast. As we sailed towards the mainland, the skies became more ominous by the minute. Then, the wind greatly picked up and the bottom fell out. The sound quickly turned into a rough ocean and the 13 foot sailboats were no match for the waves. All of the sailboats capsized and quickly sank. The counselors were trying to get all the kids in a circle holding hands in the water but it was nearly impossible to stay connected. I can still vividly remember lying on my back floating in the water. I had my feet out of the water because I was wearing brand new water shoes and I didn’t want to lose them. Priorities I guess. At the peak of the waves I could see the others floating in the water but in the valleys of the waves I couldn’t see anyone. The rain physically hurt it was coming down so hard. Some kids were screaming and crying. It seemed like the storm was never going to stop.

To this day I don’t know if we were rescued by the Coast Guard or NC Wildlife Officers or someone else. I just remember some power boats showing up and the men were wearing red life jackets. The waves were crashing over the sides of the power boats. They were about 25 foot boats but they were still struggling in the conditions. Eventually, they had us all in the power boats and we slowly headed back to the camp. People from the camp were waiting for us at the dock with towels and drinks. I was one of the last off the boats. For some reason, I was never scared so I just waited while the scared kids hurried off the boat. Once everyone was on the dock, they did a headcount to make sure all of us had made it back safely. Once they did that, I looked at the lady in charge and I said, “I told you it was going to storm.” Then I walked away to the cabin.

And I never enjoyed sailing again.

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Ann Morris Ipock
Ann Morris Ipock
Jul 12, 2023

So scary, Booth! I could feel my heart racing as I read that ALL the sailboats capsized and sunk. You poor kiddos! I can't believe you weren't scared. It's a true miracle that you were ALL rescued, in fact. Also, you had GREAT intuition and something tells me you still do! Amen!😍

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