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Oxford Stories: UM Student Fondly Recalls Her Experiences at Summer Camp

Camp Waldemar’s dining hall.
Camp Waldemar’s dining hall.

Nestled in the rolling hill country of Texas on the banks of the Guadalupe River is camp Waldemar, an all-girls camp founded in 1926. This camp welcomes around 300 girls each summer and has a long tradition of creating lifetime friendships and memories throughout the summer.

Sydney Nutt
Sydney Nutt

I was lucky enough to attend this summer camp for nine years, and I consider it my second home. Some of the friends I made at this camp are still my best friends today, and every time we see each other, we can’t help but talk about the great memories we made, whether it was pranking our counselor or trying to remember the traditional camp songs.

Waldemar was more than just a place my parents sent me for a month each summer; it is a place where I grew up and was able to prepare for life without even knowing it. I was taught teamwork by learning to work with my cabin mates to create a skit for skit night. I learned responsibility by have to make my bunk bed every morning or sweeping the cabin. I was also allowed to grow up in a way I wanted to, moving out of my comfort zone to experience camp in my own way.

Campers dress up for the carnival, an event held once during the term.
Campers dress up for the carnival, an event held once during the term.

These kind of experiences are only learned at summer camp, a place where parents aren’t in control and technology is not allowed. Campers look up to counselors, sometimes only a few years older than they are, to lead the way. Activities are completed for fun, not for a grade. Every child should attend summer camp in their life, not only for the fun it provides, but also for the invaluable experiences

Camp Waldemar is the perfect place for a child to have these experience. Its family-like atmosphere and picturesque grounds make for the ideal location to spend a summer. Waldemar is a camp deep in tradition, and that tradition is evident throughout every minute spent there. Campers are awoken early to the sound of a bugle playing through the speakers. Then they must make their beds, clean the cabin and get ready for the day all before another speaker sounds calling campers to breakfast.

Waldemar is situated on the Guadalupe River.
Waldemar is situated on the Guadalupe River.

After breakfast, girls participate in activity after activity, only stopping for a mid-morning snack or nourishment as Waldemar likes to call it. Activities pick up again until lunch, followed by rest hour.

The day doesn’t stop after this rest hour, however, as afternoon nourishment is served and more activities are completed. Activities at Waldemar range from athletic to creative and everything in between. Girls get to choose what they want to participate in with over 30 options to pick from.

While typical sports like soccer or basketball are offered, campers have the opportunity to partake in sports they may only be exposed to at camp, such as fencing, rifle, archery or polocrosse. Campers can also participle in non-sporting activities like ceramics, metal and jewelry and drama.

Fencing is one of the unique sports offered at Waldemar.
Fencing is one of the unique sports offered at Waldemar.

While campers partake in these activities for fun, there is also something else at stake: points for their tribe. During a camper’s first night at camp, girls draw a piece of paper from a box that has a one of three letters on it: A, C or T. These letters corresponded to a certain tribe the campers will be a part of for the rest of their time at Waldemar.

Girls will either be part of the Aztec, Comanche or Tejas tribe. Being welcomed in a tribe is like having 100 sisters at once where everyone is friendly and working for the same goal: to win the most points by the end of the term to claim the plaque. Points are awarded in many ways, all coming back to Waldemar’s deep tradition.

Girls are awarded points for having good table manners, for having good attitudes in classes, for having clean and tidy cabins, and the most important, for winning field day which is held twice a term.

Officers of the Tejas Tribe, one of three tribes at Waldemar.
Officers of the Tejas Tribe, one of three tribes at Waldemar.

Field day is an exciting time for girls as they get to compete in activities to win points for their tribe. Girls can play tennis matches, compete in gymnastics and swim in races to earn points. At the end of field day, everyone comes down to the river, waiting to cheer on tribes in the highly awaited canoe races.

Only the most advanced and skilled campers participate in these races, making it exciting and thrilling for everyone to watch. At the end of the day, a winner is announced, and campers are either elated or disappointed, ready for the next field day to do it all over again.

Attending Waldemar is one of the best experiences in my life, and I am so grateful that I was able to spend nine summers there, and even a few more as a counselor. Waldemar is a place of encouragement, a place where campers can thrive and learn to experience new things. It really is a special, one-of-a-kind place, matched by no other.

Sydney Nutt can be reached at sgnutt@go.olemiss.edu. Read her work on OxfordStories Long Form.

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