Green Rosary Beads

Beach sand and green rosary beads… They’ll always remind me of the summer of 1961.

It was the year my brother, Steve, and I spent two weeks at Cedar Crest, a summer camp run by Catholic seminarians, in Green Harbor, Massachusetts. I remember the excitement and anxiety as we settled into our new digs, cabins named after saints.

Several things stand out about that first day:

– The cabins. Steve moved into one for eight-year-olds not too far from mine – St. Edward’s, the cabin for kids who were ten.

– All the bunk beds inside the cabins. Wally was my bunk bed mate who had already claimed the top bed upon my arrival. And that was okay by me; I was rather chubby in those days and was a little concerned about the worn springs. Plus I was known to occasionally sleepwalk and a top bunk could have been a problem.

– The Canteen. It was a store where we could buy soda, candy and ice cream. We all had accounts from which the counselors would deduct the amounts of our purchases. I think Dad put $5 into each of our accounts. It was our first taste of budgeting.

– Our first Canteen purchase. Steve and I bought green rosary beads.

There were many memories that summer:

– Truck rides to the beach and the ice-cold showers when we got back.

– Horseback fights on the beach and in the water where one kid was the horse and another rode his shoulders trying to knock over other teams (I was always a horse).

– Birch beer soda at The Canteen.

– Rosary bead walks after supper where campers roamed the camp’s grounds with the seminarians praying the rosary.

– Morning inspections when seminarians checked rooms for cleanliness and bed sheets for sand.

There’s one other memory, though, I still think about even today. Just before supper we all lined up in front of our cabins to listen to the Camp Director on the PA system announce the names of the Campers of the Day. My brother won the honor three or four times.

I wanted to be Camper of the Day more than anything and I prayed for it daily with my green rosary beads. But it never happened. It may had something to do with rarely passing morning inspection. Somehow, the counselors always found beach sand in my bed sheets.

Too many horseback fights on the beach, I guess, and not enough time in those freakin’, cold showers…

Anyway, here’s my poem about it:

Green Rosary Beads

Whenever I come up short,
I remember summer camp
at Green Harbor Beach.

Along with birch beer
and pistachios, my brother
and I bought rosary beads,

green ones, at
the Cedar Crest Canteen,
extra blessing insurance

to assure us honors
as campers of the day.
And while they worked

for him, I never passed
morning inspection,
never seeming to sweep

enough beach sand
from my bed sheets,
leaving me without hope

for camping accolades.
Yet, I never gave up prayer
and still sleep with sand

between the bed sheets,
green rosary beads
under my pillow.

About Rich Kenney

Rich Kenney is an Associate Professor and Director of the Social Work Program at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Life, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Green Rosary Beads

  1. tracye1 says:

    love this memory of camp! Reminds me to check out our diocese’s camp for kids! Blessings!

  2. susansplace says:

    Love that story, and your poem! Such great memories, I’m sure!

  3. I was raised Catholic as well, and remember praying the rosary with my mother and brother in the early 1970’s, but I never went away to camp. I couldn’t swim and was always afraid I’d drown on my first day at camp.
    Very nice story, and poem.

    • Rich Kenney says:

      I didn’t learn to swim till much later than my peers. I used to go into water about waist-high and then pretend to swim though I was really walking. And the funny thing is is that everyone knew I was walking…
      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Tiffini says:

    I never went away to camp, but I did once go as an 8th grader on a retreat with my Christian school to the mountains. It wasnot only powerfully moving but also a great deposit in confidence, independence and friendship. Isn’t it something, how much we grow and learn when we think the point is to have fun? Beautiful writing. 🙂

  5. Planting Potatoes says:

    Rich, I have nominated you for a Sunshine Blog Award…….

  6. faithfulnibbles says:

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award —

    I truly enjoy your blog. Outstanding.

  7. Anne Sikes says:

    Hi Rich! I nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Love your blog, and look forward to another post.

  8. Awww, my heart goes out to that small boy. He needs a hug. 🙂
    Childhood is such a profound part of our lives – I feel privilaged that I remember the nuances of my own, and gratedful that I could read about a part of yours.

  9. Mary Anne says:

    My Favorite Rosary bead story, was when my mother swung and hit my 15 year old brother with a sterling silver pair. He was past curfew and she said ” the Blessed Mother” told her to do it. Great story, Rich. I love your ability to remember the little details!

  10. Mary Cancellare says:

    I attended Camp Cedar Crest as a camper, then waitress and was the head counselor from the girls camp when it closed. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    • Rich Kenney says:

      Thanks so much for responding. Camp Cedar Crest was a memorable time in my life. My brother and I loved riding the old truck to the beach but hated the freezing cold showers afterward. There was something magical about that place. I vaguely remember the girl’s camp. I think the girls came to a few of the events. Where was the camp?

  11. Mary Reiling Cancellare says:

    Please check out these two web sites. It will bring back wonderful memories like your poem has done for me. Thank you. You might even recognize a fellow camper! I met my husband there while he was a seminarian and we just celebrated our 40th anniversary. The girls camp was up the hill and there were only a few events were we were together.

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