A Land Far, Far Away

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Last weekend the girls and I deposited a suitcase, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and Cayden, in front of a plywood cabin in somewhere, West Virginia. This marked The Boy’s first foray into the world of sleep-away camp.

Cayden was blase about our departure, waving a hasty goodbye as he joined his bunkmates.

I wasn’t too emotional, but I did feel as though we’d off-loaded him far from home. That’s the thing about West Virginia: invest a few hours behind the wheel and it’s another world. It’s incredibly mountainous and beautiful, but also remote and sparsely populated. And poor.

After we ditched Cayden, we stopped for lunch in a nearby town (and I use “nearby” and “town,” loosely). The restaurant, which also sold mattresses and appliances, was cluttered with random decor — firemen garb, Jesus loves you signs, tractor parts, military placards and framed newspaper clippings of the town’s claim to fame: a disastrous collision between a logging truck and a passenger train last year.

And as I paid our tab, I couldn’t ignore the sign at the candy counter. My first thought:

One-stop shopping for kids.

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Then again, there isn’t a library or a movie theater or a Redbox kiosk for miles. When it comes to entertainment, eating chocolate while shooting things is probably the best gig in town.

Fortunately, Cayden’s camp is chocked full of activities like hiking and swimming. Archery is the only weaponry offered on site.

I think.