Welcome to Red-Neck Ranch Camp


[Gas pump with clothesline, barn and horse-dra...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

One morning when you were ten, you and your friend, Sumner, were bundled into the old station wagon and carted off to spend a week at Billy Bry’s Ranch Camp.  The word ‘ranch’ was used somewhat loosely; you figured that the owner wanted to impart an aura of mystique.  But this ranch consisted of old plowhorses shuffling around in a dirt ring, and was located 680 miles away from any real Double R.

You and Sumner shrugged and hopped on some horses.  It seems like either one or both of you fell off of your trusty steeds at some point, and one or both of you was aboard a horse that upped and ‘ran away with you.’  In retrospect, how can you blame ol’ Applesauce for wanting to head for the hills and get the heck outta Dodge?  Or at least, break into a lopsided gallop into some weedy field outside of town.

The head counselor was named ‘Fescue’ and had a red buzz-cut.  The fact that he did not have all of his teeth at the tender age of nineteen did not inhibit him from baring them in a grin every now and then.  At night, he and the other ‘counselors’ played Black Jack.  When you got sick of being thrown off of horses and bronco bustin,’ you milled around in a mosquito swarm, finally finding a feeble hose.  There was no pool and nothing much to do.  Mr. Bry rarely made an appearance, and you supposed that he managed this ranch from a distance–from his own ranch house–sucking down a Schlitz or two with cowboy boots parked on his TV tray.

Finally the week ended and you and Sumner were granted leave.  The vote was unanimous; next summer, Girl Scout Camp it would be.  Your mother said that she knew immediately that ranch camp was not your cup of tea when you jumped into the car crying.  And what was the name of that disease you could get from going barefoot around horses?

Little did you all realize that during the following summer, you and Sumner would soon be pressed into manual labor.  The head counselor’s name was ‘Cricket,’ and she wore one of those Australian outback hats.  She climbed up into a tree to issue us our orders:

“We’re going to make a gravel path from the camp down to the lake!” she chirped.  You and Sumner shrugged and supposed this was so that you could earn your ‘gravel path badge.’  The bags of gravel weren’t too heavy, the problem was that Cricket deemed it necessary to dole out ‘salt tablets’ to replenish the sweat that your twelve-year old selves would lose during the manual labor.  End result:  everyone got sick, ended up in the latrine and left the prison camp, with nary a gravel path badge.  You’ve been sorely tempted to travel back to Lake Lure and see if the path was ever completed, but can’t quite bring yourself.

The next summer, you and Sumner opted to try a sailing camp.  Time to break out of the old mold and go for something new and refreshing.  Camp Seafarer was absolutely wonderful.  Not only was the camp supervised, but it was supervised well, by staff.  You returned several more years and your mothers sighed with relief.  But back then, all they had was word of mouth to go by, no internet with CampAdvisor reviews.

But you do still wonder how Mr. Bry managed to get his name out there; perhaps he had the same pr folks as Jim and Tammy Fay.  Bless their lil hearts.

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About reelingintheyears.wordpress.com

A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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15 Responses to Welcome to Red-Neck Ranch Camp

  1. ryoko861 says:

    Reminds me of the Y camp my mom used to send me to every year. Hyper little shit that I was, I kicked and screamed when she told me I was going, but after two weeks, I was sad to leave. I learned some of the best camp songs!
    At least you had Sumner. A partner in crime and misery loves company!

  2. Thanks, Ryoko–so true! You sound just like all of the other campers that were there. I was too shy to be hyper. The hyper ones had a heckuva lot more fun!

  3. I like your website, your article written so well, you are welcome to my christian louboutin uk, hope that you also can like.

  4. I loved summer camp. I wish adults could still go!

  5. Thanks, BCBC! My friend calls Club Med her own adult camp…

  6. winsomebella says:

    I wanna go to summer camp now…..

    • I vote for spa camp, with just the beach, good books, friends and vino. And a spa chef. Never met one but know they are out there. No counselors allowed and no bugle at 6 a.m. Not military style so much, only the occasional massage or facial treatment. Ahhhh….
      Thanks, Winsome!

  7. Ahhh … summer camp. I remember those days. My siblings and I were always sent to church-run summer camps so my memories of such are rather B-O-R-I-N-G.

  8. We loved the camp years…I went to camp in East Texas, my husband went to one in the hill country and our #2 daughter went 10 straight years to one on the banks of the north fork of the Guadalupe. We loved our drive out there, returning for “Tribe Shows” and finally picking her up. We’re looking forward to taking our grandson someday. Great experience…the secret is finding the right place for the child.

    • Oh my lands, what are Tribe Shows? I hope it’s not like Tribal Council.
      Georgette, I’m sooo envious that you have a grandson! And you are absolutely right about the camp match.

      • The girls were divided into family tribes. Each “tribe” wrote a skit, made props, made up songs, created costumes. and then competed for best of show. Big deal back then and they all delivered adorable performances.

  9. Oh I like that! I think they had tribes in Girl Scout Camp, too. I hope you have some old movies of the shows!

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