Title: Campsite View Location: Lake Chicot State Park, AR Damon Dean

Title: Campsite View
Location: Lake Chicot State Park, AR
Damon Dean

July 1stThe sun creeps up above the horizon, the flag is raised and the bugler should be stuffed in a pillow case and shoved under a bunk. It’s the first day of Poetry Camp. Attention Campers!

Good Morning! For today’s prompt, you are asked to write a camping memory from some point in your life. Maybe you went camping as a family? Possibly, you had attended Band Camp or Scout Camp or Computer Camp. A group of your friends rented a cabin and you partied in the wilderness. Start this camping experience with a blast from your past!




  1. Pingback: THE GRANADA CAMP FOR WAYWARD POETS – ADVENTURES at Creative Bloomings | Vivinfrance's Blog


    Stowed in the old black VW van

    the large green tent reposed mid Coleman stove,

    gas lantern, budging duffle bags, bed rolls,

    ropes, tarps, ice chest nigh baseball, bat and glove.

    Food box, fishing poles, ax, water buckets,

    folding army shovel, scouting mess kits,

    small tent for pot-a-potty and T.P.

    netted hats to minimize insect bits.

    Noise, vibrating waves of excitement

    spilled from house to yard to fast filling van.

    Small skirmishes settled window-seat rights.

    Trips designated for stout heart-ed kids and man.

    Last minute survey of the “Check-off-list”,

    What’s left behind – forget – no ‘shopping stop.’

    We’ll live on what’s packed, caught or maybe picked.

    No TV, phones, nor even cans of pop.

    The hills beckon, I can close my eyes and

    still remember the scent of pine needles

    drying in the heat of the summer sun,

    how a small rock under the bedroll feels.

    The dark, starlit sky, above ebbing fire

    over which we roast marshmallows and sing

    before a quick wash of dirt-caked feet,

    then to tent mid whispers and giggling.

    Quiet night sounds stir with the gentle breeze.

    Hum of adults talking by fading fire .

    Night-forest sings its lullaby …….

    We want to listen…….plan……re..mem…….ber….

  3. BANE

    Because I never knew what chiggers are
    Until I learned to camp, at Crapper Creek,
    Guess what I learned about those buggers there:
    Some like to dance upon you, cheek to cheek.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  4. On summer days
    my mind can’t help returning
    to Ozark mountain lakes
    and girls canoeing.

    Slowly we often trolled the edges
    where Sassafras trees
    dipped their green fingers
    into shady catfish pools.

    Sandy Drebes, known as Skunk
    for no good reason,
    rigged a sail once
    from her mother’s bed sheet.

    I was pilot, with my paddle/rudder
    deep in Bull Shoals green opaqueness.
    Tacking into the wind
    became a hilarious endeavor.

    Maverick hit the drink.
    We raced her back to shore.
    She won of course,
    and we grew hoarse with laughing.

  5. Up at the Bus

    Up at the bus, for a week-end stay
    Are we there yet? We five would say
    A retired school bus instead of a tent
    In that old thing, many hours were spent
    Five little girls full of fun and play

    Dad would go fishing, it was his way
    Mom would clean and cook throughout the day
    We’d play pretend, that’s how it went
    Up at the bus

    Slept in bunk beds that would creak and sway
    Ate at a fold out table or a metal tray
    Kerosene heaters and lamps gave acrid scent
    Stored water in milk cans, silver and dent
    To a rustic outhouse, visit’s we’d pay
    Often to the woods we’d stray, up at the bus.

  6. Campcide Tales – Day 1: Trekacide

    We walked straight up that mountain. Straight up.
    Packed a week’s worth of my closet on my back.
    Most of it useless beyond the tree-line, and that’s

    where we headed. Up footpaths slick with mud,
    studded with stones that spiked each step. Up.
    Still up. We stopped for water. Twice. Each time
    I thought we’d arrived. Faint hope; just a breather. 

    ’twas water torture, it was.
    A drip of relief here.
    A drop of breath there. 

    Come on girls, echoed our scout leader,
    and the rocky reaches answered for us.
    We were too exhausted to speak.

    But off we’d go again.
    It was trekacide.
    It was walkacide.

    And we were all walking straight 
    into campacide. I hate camping.


    The “word Campacide” is inspired by a poem from Edward Dorn. And I think I’ll be doing a series of pieces for a collection called “Campcide Tales” (as in homicide, etc.)

  7. Pingback: Campcide Tales – Day 1: Trekacide | The Chalk Hills Journal

  8. Today’s deadline still looming. I think I will take a break to write a poem when I reach the halfway point to my goal.


    We pitched the tent and there it stood,
    our lodging on the ground.
    That night a wicked storm came through
    which took the whole thing down.
    We struggled in the nylon mess
    and very nearly drowned.

    It’s hard to tell in coal black skies
    if something’s standing there,
    but we just knew and offered up
    impromptu, heartfelt prayer.
    Yet that did not deter our guest,
    a rather large, black bear.

    It wouldn’t do to scream out loud
    with others in their bunk.
    We silently grabbed camping gear
    and threw it in the trunk.
    But in my haste, I fell upon
    a greatly angered skunk.

    Once in the car, we drove away
    from all except my smell.
    There’s little you can do, you know,
    to make that stench dispel
    or make the knee that hit the beast
    do anything but swell.

    On this, our final tenting trip,
    we learned of nature’s wrath.
    And in the future, we agreed
    to take a different path.
    Give us a cabin with a door,
    a sturdy roof and bath.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  10. Such peaceful, quiet, water
    Who could ever guess
    The agonizing list of broken lives
    Never seen again on Great Lakes’ shores….

    The Sisters who ran this little camp
    Reminded us again and again of dangers
    Invisible from the surface, but hovering
    Beneath our sight.

    In depths no deeper than the average bathtub!
    Fourteen year-old girls, quite sure they knew
    All there was to know about that water
    Began to wonder if they could switch to
    Basketball or other sports instead.

    Ah, but the water felt so glorious! In
    Those days of the 1960’s when the sight
    Of two wet nuns dripping water as
    They walked in silence, rosaries in hand

    Sent many a school girl wondering
    If she might still harbor a vocation….
    Even if she was too afraid to open
    Her eyes beneath the water and see
    Its mysteries from another point of view.

    • Nice, Marian. I can barely imagine seeing two such nuns, though I can relate to the pondering of the question of vocation. I really like this poem with its images and its lasting questions.

    • I suspect that there is more than one who looks back with nostalgia (sp?) at those times beside the Lakes. Well done.

  11. Pingback: Ah, Wilderness | Words With Sooze


    A ramshackle cabin stuck in the sweeping hills
    A hideaway of sorts.
    Not a resort by any stretch
    Of any imagination.
    A destination for a few summers
    In the late sixties. “Cactus”, an old codger,
    the last bar stool at the local tavern.
    His place. His son, a friend of Dad’s
    invited. Bring the boys to fish and swim
    and hike in the hills.
    The lake water was murky,
    catfish were ugly and the incline
    was so steep it hurt your feet to think
    of venturing upward. We had a ball.
    The men folk drank and “stank” to high heaven.
    The boy pitched tents and had
    adventures. The stars and moon illuminated
    and we were satiated on marshmallows and “Dogs”.
    Campfire and stories will all the gory details.
    Long gone, absorbed by sprawl, a part
    Of the ski resort that claimed her.
    We named her “Camp Cactus.”


    Papa said we were too poor
    to go to summer camp.
    “Walk in the park. Smell the flowers.
    Make believe a little,” Papa said,
    Then he’d quote Harry S. Truman:
    “The buck stops here.”

    You prompt me to talk about
    First Day at Summer Camp.
    I suppose in poetic lines
    lies jump like fleas off a sleeping dog,
    so I’ll spin a yarn as good as I can.
    You can believe it or not.

    It was called Camp Wattcha Dewin
    high in the hills of Brooklyn Heights
    where parents sent their kids in June
    as soon as school let out
    so they could taste some freedom
    (the parents I mean).

    We’d get up early with the roosters,
    enjoy fried eggs and pancakes,
    then head out for the woods
    where the activities director
    Mr. Van Camp warned us about
    Poisons Ivy and Sumac

    He showed us how to mimic birds,
    identify the flora in the woods,
    and after dinner weave potholders
    to present to our mothers as gifts.
    Sometimes we kids would sit and howl
    watching Abbott and Costello films.

    It was a fun time at Wattcha Duin,
    but I missed the park on Melrose where
    we guys played handball and stickball,
    the comic book store where Two Tales
    of the Crypt cost a nickel,
    Then a nickel ice cream cone from Jahn’s.


    • Sal, you’re too good at spinning to know whether this weaving is of an earlier incarnation or not. But supposin’ I bought this yarn, I’d say you found the answer to the question of whether the grass is always greener or if they have skeeters over there, too. 🙂 I had a lot of fun reading this.

    • Very good take on them-camps that use to be when a nickel got one an ice cream cone.

    • For me, the heart of this poem is the third stanza’s allusion to freedom. I never went to a camp, but a lot of fellows I knew used to complain about it, not embrace it. This recalls them for me. Thanks for the story.

  14. Camping Spirit
    All the excitement of going to camp
    rustling up big chunks of adventure spirit
    and packing it in rough colorful bags
    which then got eaten, heatin’ cheatin’ and beatin’
    Its a miracle, I survived!!!

  15. Just my rough draft so far, but no more time available.

    First But Not Last

    Country living doesn’t
    always prepare for creek-side
    camping or the hazards for
    kids on their first outing.

    We felt privileged to go,
    looked forward all week,
    planned and played,
    harassed and whined.

    Time came to load up
    and go we did, a few
    miles away to park at
    creek-side’s pull-off.

    Dad’s out quick, fishing
    poles dangling from shoulder;
    Mom’s left with us and all else,
    for her job’s just started.

    Come my turn and a trail through
    stinging nettles brings pain and shouts,
    and questions about my laboring
    vision and being more careful.

    Seething in silence at camping’s
    burdens, I wait my turn to chide;
    the rains came by noon with smoking
    campfire and rising skeeter population.

    Dripping and droning notwithstanding,
    dogs and marshmallows filled insides
    while talk turned to fish biting the next day
    and sleeping safe in the van that night.

    Dad told bro not to water the fire
    But bro did it anyway, laughing the while;
    Midnight claimed no humor when one
    Bro watered all of us in his sleep.

    Daylight couldn’t come soon enough
    nor miles traveled homeward came
    before my chiding began in earnest,
    about creek camping, nettles, and brothers.

      • Yeah, it’s true. William. I don’t have really fond memories of that first experience. I put me off camping for a long time. Didn’t take it up again until adulthood. And thanks.

  16. The “first” camping trip can set the tone, attitude, and probability of many future trip.
    The idea that your dad left w/o helping set up camp … just not in our family experience.
    I smiled about the rain – it seemed to know exactly were we planned to set up camp…..
    Enjoyed your recall.

  17. Growing up, we didn’t go to camp; we camped, usually somewhere on the farm away from the house and under the sky. That condition continued into my adulthood until I grew a liking to beds and showers and freedom from insect bites. 😉

    Camp Dog

    Mandel, our dog, runs up the path,
    his tongue hanging longer each step.
    He pees on prominent trees
    shading both sides of the trail
    until the effort is gratuitous; he’s
    dried out and knows we know it.

    He hurries us, excited to be out
    sniffing rocks, marking trees,
    barking at birds that startle
    at his approach. He poses as a beast
    to be feared, his imagination
    launching him forward and pulling
    him back to us again and again.
    By the time we make it to the top,
    he will have traveled three times
    the distance with his to and fro-ness.

    By the time we reach the nob,
    a stiff final climb to the lookout,
    he’s a bag of wet rags, a sack of mud
    with a tongue. We pour him
    water and pet him back into
    a dog shape, applaud his bravado.
    Mandel the Terrible!
    Mandel the Adventurer!
    Mandel, Lord of the Campfire!

    We share a snack, a drink, an apple
    scanning the rural countryside lying
    like a quilt at our feet, patches
    of corn and wheat, soybeans
    and pasture, garden and vine,
    the horizon shades of blue
    that meet the whiter sunny sky.

    A short rest and then we return
    to the tent, downhill, across a stream,
    go to swim in a pond so warm near
    the banks that fish hang lethargically
    in the water, turtles line up on logs
    like beads on a string, sunning.

    We have to swim toward the center
    for the water to be chill beneath
    the surface, as if green finally found
    a cave dwelling, hidden from bright day.

    Mandel barks at fish, wades belly deep,
    still unsure of what to do about water
    too wide or too deep. We lie on
    the surface face up, floating into
    a doze, a better sleep than the ground
    will offer us tonight. Even with air mattresses,
    every root and rock finds a soft home
    in our flesh. Come morning, we will groan
    when we try to rise, feeling every
    muscle rebel against camping.
    Mandel looks at us as if we’re sissies.

    • Fr me. this poem is so luxuriant in images and phrases to savor, and the ending line has that touch of “sneaky fast” that gives it final punctuation. Thanks very much for posting it.

  18. He Was This Big

    The one that did not get away,
    was half the length of me –
    As tall as I was short,
    he was a mighty fish to see.

    I’m sure I struggled to bring him in
    and a hand was lent I’m sure –
    But you can tell by my grin,
    he was all mine from tip to fin.

    • Wonderfully pithy line: “As tall as I was short.” It’s amazing, how well that describes the fisher.

  19. Hmm, I didn’t want to miss the first day, so here is my so-so attempt.


    C amp Berea, summer destination
    A bandoning cares, cats, and clarinets
    M urky mud squishing between my toes
    P umping arms and legs to reach floating raft on
    B ear Pond earns the right to swim past the rope
    E ach day, a new lesson on God’s work worldwide
    R eapers are needed and I volunteer
    E xcel in word and commitment in deed
    A fter, camp defines the course of my life

    • I enjoyed reading this, and seeing its vignettes, especially “Abandoning cares, cats, and clarinets.”

      • Thanks. That was one line that was a keeper as soon as I heard it in my mind. 🙂

  20. First Camping Trip

    With no prior experience in the great outdoors,
    I approached a trip to a cabin in the woods
    with my fifth grade best friend, her mom and dad,
    with a sense of adventure and over packing.

    We two rode all the way in the back seat
    of their station wagon, Debbie’s dad playing
    the country music station, ignoring our pleas
    for rock and roll, something we could dance to.

    Arriving at the cedar shake cabin nestled
    in the clearing of a pine forest, we lugged
    our duffle bags then returned to help
    with groceries, lanterns, bedding, towels.

    As night approached and we turned in,
    side by side in bunk beds, the full moon
    peeking through the curtained window,
    her father opened the drawers and moaned:

    “Looks like the rats have been gnawing
    the toilet paper,” he said. “We’ll set traps
    tomorrow.” Then he tucked us in and left.
    I never closed my eyes all night. Not once.

  21. Pingback: Gazing | Metaphors and Smiles

  22. Gazing

    A water Lilly rests on crystalline surface
    as an opal glowing upon a green leaf
    it shines with the strength of sacred verse,
    each flower is a scattered writing of God’s –
    a note jotted is blackened by distance,
    the plank of a swaying boat
    and the arched arm of a hopeful one.
    This magical list and its eternal equation
    is inscribed in the almost invisible vibrations,
    those that stipple the nearly still –
    shadowed shallows of pond.
    Pickerel kiss the parallel line
    the distinct streak
    between the secret underneath
    and the heavens –
    sky, the silver belly of an enormous opened oyster
    holding the pearl of a glowing sun above.
    And what do the gill-bearers make of us?
    Bewildering beings in an earthly bucket
    harboring lullabies – trying at kindnesses –
    dreaming about riding painted wild horses…
    the kind pictured in text-books –
    spotted herds on wide ochre plains
    with full lustrous manes blowing in the wind.
    Do our scaled-friends pretend to know only
    of cold-blooded aquatic breathing ways
    or are they privy and part of the universal flow –
    connected in the pool of collective consciousness?
    Sunlight sends ridges and lines of light through tawny waters,
    it falls golden on the soft-silted ground beneath
    and filters away behind reflections, rushes and gem-like Lilies.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    For me, the most distinctive memory I hold of camping is the amazing view across pond or lake…

    Apologies…I have no reading time tonight…I will play catch-up. Warm poeming smiles and happy writing to all adventuring this month!

  23. Camping? I Think Not!

    A cabin purported
    to be roomy enough
    for four, could scarcely
    hold two. Four close friends
    could not have been closer
    than living for one week
    in this wooden, mosquito-
    ridden, claustrophobic
    space. What about
    the bathroom? Glad you asked.
    At the end of the ‘kitchen’
    was a wooden door, coming
    three-quarters of the way down.
    Might as well have been
    communal. While there was
    a lake, we had to race
    past the bees to get there,
    only to be tortured
    by black flies. No thanks.
    I will stay in a motel.
    Camping was hell!

  24. Summer Camp

    Summer breaks with a vengeance
    Maine’s heat promotes mosquitoes
    No-see-ums and horse flies
    Hay fever and summer colds

    But for the parents of teenagers
    And some as young as eight
    ‘Tis a time to send the children away
    For a week or two “vacation”
    To Bible Camp

    But I, not one for Bible Camp
    In the woods in musty cabins
    Morning marches through the woods
    Lunch surprises on paper plates
    Afternoons in sweaty study sessions
    A late afternoon group swim
    Off key fireside sing-a-longs
    While swatting pesky flying bugs
    Then off to bed, lights out at ten
    No telling what would happen then

    Just two years did I do the camp thing
    I preferred summers nearer home
    Bikes with cards flipping through the spokes
    Out after breakfast; back before sundown
    With friends on fresh mowed baseball fields
    Football rags hanging from back pockets
    And basketballs through chain link nets

    That was my summer camp
    No offense to Bible Camp
    Just my preference.

    © 2014 Earl Parsons

  25. Church Camps

    In dusty pine groves down dirt paths,
    wood frame whitewashed camp dorms,
    (screens stapled round the upper half, the only form of windows)
    were our homes.
    Despite wide soffits dotted brown
    with shiny black dirt dauber nests,
    we had to scoot our iron bunks
    with their blue-striped cotton matresses
    inward to avoid the spit of hurried summer storms.

    Our favorite craft, slick multi-colored vinyl strands
    woven into key chains, bracelets, lanyards
    (intended gifts to parents back at home)
    had all their sacred purposes corrupted
    as we needed leashes for new pets,
    dull fretful armadillos
    we nabbed and named,
    adopted as our own.

    Hot preaching in hot air beneath
    an open tabernacle made of poles and tin,
    made young hearts melt and drip out
    of our eyes.
    (Who knew our hearts were made of tears?)
    Regret was in the mud made from our melt,
    poured on powdered dirt beneath our feet,
    our restless feet that swayed
    from rustic pews.

    In sultry air I heard the first vague call,
    and though I answered first in only tears,
    (emotions stuck in a muck of juvenile regrets),
    I did in later years break loose the leash
    that bound me to conversion by the book.

    But now that time seems as a pleasant rhyme,
    hanging at the end of just a line
    that starts a verse of seasons,
    stanzas of my faith.

    I can’t regret the lines that church camps wrote for me,
    for I could never read myself
    without their words.

    © Damon Dean, 2014

  26. Starting late, per usual. But here’s my Day 1:


    Inspired by summer family vacations spent in the sand dunes of Pismo Beach and Big Sur

    We spent afternoons
    rolling down mountains of sand
    laughing as we

    tumbled like logs,
    all limbs and heavy trunks,
    crashing our way

    through the salty
    air and the slow, thick
    stick of vacation

    flying through timelessness
    ever-closer toward the cold embrace
    of the Pacific

    and the long
    wet ride home

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