Memories from Ashby

A group of staff from Tanglewood
Ashby, second from left, second row.

Unlike many staff, I didn’t have any childhood connection to Tanglewood before I worked there.

My senior year of college my friend Rachel (hey Rachel!) told me all about her magical summer at Tanglewood the year before, and suggested I apply. Knowing I’d be entering the “serious grownup workforce” come September, two months as a woodland fairy seemed appealing and so off I went into the wilds of Lincolnville with my hiking sandals and a large collection of colorful skirts (the essentials).

There are too many ridiculous and perfect memories from that summer to recount in an entire book, but what stays with me most is the way everyone, staff, and campers, found their niche at Tanglewood – there was never one “right way” to be, so everyone was just whatever they were, and others joined in enthusiastically. Electives illustrated this so perfectly – in one afternoon, campers would be choosing between sprout ball, songwriting (perhaps an acoustic rendition of Umbrella?), haiku composition, hair braiding, reading Harry Potter silently on the porch (very much my favorite elective to run), rugby, Viking Lichen Hiking, henna tattoo drawing or beaded lizard making. The freedom we had to bring our (weird) selves and our (strange) interests to our work at camp gave the campers the same freedom and man, did those campers show up with their own lights shining.

It has been my goal since that summer to raise my own kids as “Tanglewood Kids” — and if the dirtiness of their feet and the loudness of their singing voices are any indicators, I’m succeeding so far.

— Ashby (Connors) Bartke