“Let’s agree on one thing. Wherever this wild ride leads, let’s ensure Banks has an absolutely incredible childhood.”-Christy, Benj
The fishing camp is a unique place, to say the least. I remember thinking that the first time I laid eyes on it years ago. In its simplest form, it is a smattering of small cabins laid out on a beautiful, waterfront piece of land in southern, coastal Mississippi. Everybody knows everybody, and has for a million years. A few folks live there permanently, but most come to fish, boat, and play on weekends from March to October. Unique, yes. But I love unique.
If there is such a thing as the perfect place to raise a 5 year old boy, this would be the place. Embraced immediately by the good folks here, Banks lived the dream for just over 18 months. He climbed trees, built forts, went fishing, played with the boys, went boating, and went jet skiing, among others. If you’ve read for any period of time, you know I think the most underrated life aspiration is freedom, and he had it in droves.
It was a bona fide outdoor life. 10 months out of the year, just stay where we can see you, and the world is yours.
I have a million favorite memories that occurred at the camp: first day of school where mommy and I wept buckets, first hurricane experience, etc.
But two stand out to me that were driven primarily by the fine folks at the camp. First, someone erected an old mailbox beside our camp to be used as Banks’ Mailbox. Every other day for months on end, there would be books, candy, letters, and the like inside. Banks checked first thing every afternoon. It ALWAYS made him smile.
Second, we lived there for two Halloweens. Since there was only one full-time child resident (him), a person could reasonably expect no big Halloween riff raff. Au contraire. Both years, he came home with enough candy to feed an army, courtesy of a handful of people intent on making sure he was taken care of. It brings a little tear to my eye just thinking about it.
It takes a village, and Banks has more honorary uncles, aunts, and grandparents than I can even begin to count.
Last, a personal note. I march to the beat of my own drum. I don’t know if the camp had ever housed a man who wore pink hats and had a general ineptitude for all things hands on.
Instead of letting that be a barrier, everyone was very welcoming and extremely helpful. I had countless wonderful conversations about the history, the region, and the people.
When I had a dead battery in my car, they were there to lend a hand. When I needed to learn how to launch a boat, de-head shrimp, or clean fish, there they were. And my personal favorite: when it was time for me to back a trailer and launch a jet ski for the first time, they took me to a private marina so I wouldn’t be nervous or embarrassed. I was blown away.
Never in a million years would I have ever thought of living at a fishing camp in southern Mississippi. But I’m so glad I did. The experiences and memories will truly live forever. What a unique place, and what a FINE, FINE group of people.
Have a great week.-Benj
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