Friday, September 11, 2009

Country Swamps

Quaker Lake was always an interesting place to be in the late 70's and early 80's. Camp was a very rustic place, if by rustic you mean old and often broken down! The lake itself, once the center of camp life, had been replaced by a pool and was no longer fit to swim in (Unless, of course, you were fully dressed and going against your will!). Not only that, the algae was so thick that in the heat of summer the lake could actually appear to be RED. There was no air conditioning anywhere; when it rained hard, the hill in front of the lodge turned into a mudslide; and one summer the sewage system backed up and the smell was often overwhelming. Plus, out behind the winter cabins on the way to the boys side of the lake the ground was squishy and nasty. All of this, plus crazed campers, long hours and a lack of caffeine often made the summer staff a bit loopy. From those feelings a song was born. I often get credit for writing it, but the fact is I had nothing to do with it. I just performed it a 100 times later on, so it is associated with me. It was written by a class full of campers led by Martha and Alan, with one of the campers being the legendary Jay Wilkins. Most of the references are self-explanatory, but I will tell you that Climax is the name of the little town where QLC is located (go ahead and snicker),"Red-Eye Dick" was a ghost story about camp we used to tell (before we got them banned!) and that the doors of the old cabins slammed with a volume you just can't imagine! So here are the lyrics to Country Swamps, the only song from the infamous Project Myrtle to ever actually make it to an official camp song sheet! It is sung to the tune of Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (a song that would later become a favorite with groups I took skiing in West Virginia). Everyone sing along!

Almost heaven, Climax suburbs
Blue Ridge swampland
Summer camp at Quaker Lake
The staff is old there
older than the trees
Aged by all those campers no higher
than their knees

Country Swamps, let me go
I’ve had enough as you should know (wo-wo-wo-wo)
Climax suburbs, outside of the Food Rite (or the Bi-Rite)
Country Swamps, let me go

All my memories of all those mudslides
and Red-Eye Dick still lingers in my mind
Going to the bath house
at 3 o’clock in the morn
Stepping on a black snake
wishing I wasn’t born


I hear the bell in the morning
as it rings so loud
Shuttin’ off my alarm clock
saying "let’s go back to bed"
When suddenly I hear the noise
Of little footsteps running all around the floor
And slamming the door...



  1. Jay Wilkins9/15/2009

    If I recall this was Alan's first year at QLC. It was a 6-7 grade camp, and Alan's cousin was our CA. I have always had good memories of being a part of the group that presented that song, but as it happens it was by chance that I ended up in the group. Sunday night, Neal asked us to sign up for one group to participate in that week (I can only assume because obviously I wasn't listening). Well, later that night when Neal was doing his cabin rounds, he came to our cabin and pointed out that I hadn't signed up for anything, and well Alan (of course) said that the music group would be a good one; and so I signed up for's hard to go against your counselor. But as it happens, it was a good time, and a great song, and a good memory.

  2. Anonymous2/26/2010

    nice post. thanks.


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