Our First Trip To Kingswood – The Hinde Family

1978. This is the first year since we were married that I did not work at least two jobs, and Judy is working for the Methodist Church of Sea Cliff. That is how we knew about Kingswood. We are in our early thirties, our oldest child, John Jr. is 12, Joy is 10, and Debi is 7. The only one of the five of us that has ever done any camping is John St., and that was quite some time ago. We have a family meeting to discuss the idea of the whole thing, and it’s decided, by Judy, that as long as there are no snakes, we can try it for a week.

We arrive in early July, after the fourth, but before the 19th. We are a family of five, plus our faithful dog, Tyr, packed up in an aging Pontiac sedan. We are staying in Far overlook. The car will not go up the mountain.  It’s so loaded it keeps bottoming out on the road. The road in 1978 was a couple of wheel ruts, with a high center. Judy, the three kids, and the dog, have to walk up. Of course Judy is wearing open toed sandals, and as she is walking into the site from the first overlook, a snake slithers across her foot. Not even looking down, she says to me, “Was that was I think it was?” After we got that taken care of, we busied ourselves with the unpacking and setting up. I think we arrived on a Sunday. Good God it was beautiful. We slept like dead wood that night. Some time on Monday, the manager came up to visit.

I do not recall who it was, but he told us that there were some storms forecasted for later that day, and that it was going to get a little chilly that night. He offered us extra blankets because we had no sleeping bags. We went to the barn and got blankets for everyone. Everything was fine. Have you ever been inside a thunderstorm? Oh my God! Just about the time I thought it could not rain any harder, God showed me the folly of my thinking. That night, we slept in a refrigerator. I’m sorry, the manager said, “a little chilly.”

It was very cold that night. There weren’t enough blankets in the barn to keep us warm. We had had the dog shaved before we came to camp. Our thinking was that would keep the burrs off, and allow us to spot any ticks easier. Without any fur, the dog could not get warm. He kept pacing the tent floor just to try and create heat for himself. At about three in the morning, Judy finally brought him into bed with her. He and the rest of us drifted off to sleep.

The rest of the week was great. We relaxed, the kids hooked up with the Swanson kids and ran and played and swam, the dog spent days trying to catch a deer and would disappear for hours only to come back and sleep for hours more. As we were packing the car, getting ready to the only family vacation we had had in 10 years, I casually asked everyone, “Wanna try two weeks next year?”

This year we are coming for three weeks. Our 31st straight year. My son and his family will come up for a while. My daughter and her family are coming up for a week. We have good friends that will be staying in the tent next to ours. We have a young friend joining us for the second week of Woodsmoke. There is something about this place that puts peace in your heart. You can sit back and work out the knots, and let the everyday worries slide into the background. Kingswood is family, friends, good times, and peaceful relation all rolled into a beautiful setting. What a place to be.

Written in June 2009 for From Hathaway Farm to Kingswood Campsite, the book of stories compiled for Kingswood’s 50th anniversary.