Back in the 1930s, I didn’t know what a “country bumpkin” was, let alone that I was one. If not for the 4-H program, I probably wouldn’t have left the county until I went off to college.
I belonged to two organizations: the church and the 4-H club. All church activities were local, but 4-H activities meant fun and travel, especially during the summer. There were three 4-H events we looked forward to: Congress at Mississippi State, the Mid-South Fair in Laurel, and 4-H camp at one of the state parks.
Infamous camping trip
When I think about summer fun, a particular camping escapade comes to mind.
Each 4-H member paid a few dollars to participate in a three-day camping adventure at a state park near Meridian, Mississippi. The money covered our transportation, lodging and food.
A school bus was loaded with 4-H’ers from all over our county. The bus trip was fun, but arriving at our destination was awesome. There was a huge lake with canoes lined up along the shore. My cousin, Maurine, and I, along with our brothers, had explored every pond, lake, creek and river in our area. We had never paddled a canoe, though, and we were anxious to try it. That very afternoon, we got our chance. Many of the campers lived in town and were hesitant of the canoes and the lake. Maurine and I, however, were tomboys.
Canoeing at 4-H camp
We hopped in a canoe and rowed to the middle of the lake where the water was deep. Once we got the hang of maneuvering it, we loved that canoe. We thought it might be fun to tip it over, so we stood up and rocked it until it overturned. That was a lot of fun for us – but not for the onlookers on the distant shore. Soon we heard yelling and saw two lifeguards racing toward us.
When they got close, they saw that we were laughing and were safe, but they were not laughing. We were ordered to get the canoe to shore, and we were restricted from the canoes for the rest of the day.
We swam back to shore, towing the canoe, as we were applauded by those who had witnessed the ordeal. We were not banned from the lake, and our leader must not have been notified, as we received no further punishment. But we sure livened up that camping trip!
Read more reader-submitted summer memories in Memories of Summer Fun.