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Camp As I First Saw It, by Ben Fink

Yes…that’s me.  Over in the corner.  With the dorky glasses and big hair and old-school Appel Farm shirt.

But of course, it wasn’t old-school then.  It was the summer of 1998, my last year as a camper, and those shirts were brand-new.  (Green trim on the sleeves and collar!  That sophisticated little logo in the corner!  Way cooler than the white-tee-shirt-with-the-big-logo-in-the-middle from the mid-‘90s…)

It was International Day, as you can see from the flags on the wall.  But…what are those walls?  They don’t look like the Dining Hall we know.  (Likewise with those long white picnic tables and really uncomfortable benches.)  You’ve probably seen those walls before, though.  Take a close look, and you’ll see they’re from…the Coffeehouse!  The old Dining Hall is where the Coffeehouse, Video Room, and Dance Studio are now.  (The food, I’m happy to say, has improved greatly since those days.)

That’s not all.  Ever wonder why we call the Art Barn the Art Barn?  Simple:  it used to be an actual barn!  Here it is, where the Pavilion is now, with my friend Leah standing in front:

If you look in the background, you can see the original girls’ side of North, complete with mural.  (Actually it was the boys’ side of North up through 1996, my first summer—so I was one of the last boys to ever live in Bunk 4!)

What was where the Art Barn is now?  Cornfields.  Lots of cornfields.  Everything on that side of the road (the new Art Barn, the new Dining Hall, and the new South) used to be farmland.  Here’s my cast-mate Marisa (we were in Alice together in 1997), hard at work:

(Look right next to Marisa, and you can see the office with its old slanted greenhouse roof in the background!)

And the Grove Stage?  Umm…I mean, the Dance Platform?

(There’s my friend Joe, playing Odysseus, and my bunkmate Mark, as one of his men.  Look at that huge, scary Cyclops puppet!)

Yep, a lot has changed at the Farm.  But a lot’s stayed the same, too.  There’s the same spirit, the same passionate art-making, the same community, the same love, and the same wonderful, unstoppable nerdiness.

And of course, there’s this guy:

Happy Thursday, friends.