Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter Fifteen: The Oaks – Camping In My Teens

Chapter 15 of the Autobiography... Letter O, The Oaks.

Chapter Fifteen
The Oaks – Camping In My Teens

   Located about 3 miles south from my family’s home is a small campground on a private lake. This secluded place is named The Oaks. I started camping here with my family nearly every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year. We came across this campground around the time that I was twelve or so. In the beginning we camped in a little pop-up camper that my parents bought. It was enough to get us through the weekend in comfort. I remember going exploring all around this place. There was a small sandy beach on the side of the maybe 4 acre lake, a floating raft in the middle of it, and only non-gasoline-powered boats were allowed in it. I wandered all over the place finding a great deal of other kids about my age too. There were some trails located in the wooded area at the back part of the lot too, and at the back of those trails were some kids in a tree house that obviously all knew each other somehow. When I was walking by they got my attention and said hello to me. So I stopped and started talking to them. 

  There names were Jenny, Matt, Steve, and the rest of them I don’t remember so well. But they were all smoking. I thought to myself, “Wow, more kids who smoke like me” and from then on out, I decided to be friends with them. They gave me the grand tour after that. There was a huge “clubhouse” in the middle of the campgrounds. Inside of it was a ping pong table, arcade machines, vending machines, restaurant style booths and tables, and separate sex bathrooms with sinks, toilets, and showers in them. Around the back field where all of the weekend only sites and tent sites were, there stood a thirty foot fiberglass Paul Bunyan statue at the end of the field. I spent so much time over the next four or five years hanging out with my three new friends. I’m still friends with all of them today. There were a number of others who I befriended along the way, but there stays in the campgrounds were usually for a short period of time, so they were forgot about shortly after their stay. 

  Years later, this very campground now sits empty and unused. It has passed through quite a few owners over the years, and none of them seem to be able to get it back on it’s feet and open again. 

  The majority of my early years of drinking and smoking marijuana were at these campgrounds, but these aren’t my only memories from there. I remember the late nights staying up, sitting around a campfire telling stories, talking about nothing in particular sometimes even. We didn’t have a care in the world at this point in our lives. I also spent a lot of time during these years fishing with my Mom and Dad too. There are so many good memories during these few years that I could write a book about them by themselves. Where good memories are though, are usually some bad memories as well. These years at The Oaks were also through the peak periods of my Dad’s drinking also. Thankfully, he put that behind him during this time too. 

  There isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to go back and relive those years again. I had so much fun! Hopefully someday someone will come up with the financial ability to reopen the place as I’d love for my children to be able to have the same experiences there that I did with my family and friends.

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