“I’d go back in a minute,” Joan McDonough just turned 85, and that’s how she feels about Pine Tree Camp. “It was home to me almost every summer.”
She started going in 1946, just one year after camp first opened, and went every year until 1951.
“I had curvature of the spine and had been in the hospital for two and half years wearing various braces to straighten me out. I was home from the hospital for no more than two weeks before I went to camp. It was great after being stuck in the hospital.”
Originally, Pine Tree Camp campers had polio, cerebral palsy, curvature of the spine like Joan, or had lost a limb during childhood. Back at that time, campers went for the full summer.
“When I hit camp’s gate and came down over the hill, I knew I was home. We were there for July and August and we had a good time. We did everything. And I made a lot of friends.”
In 1948, Joan had to have spinal surgery and was in a full body cast.
“I said ‘I can’t do that, because I can’t go to camp.’ And they said ‘Oh yes you can.’ And I went to camp in a full body cast. I was in Cabin 11 that year. The day before I knew I was going home I walked down into the water all the way and got my cast soaking wringing wet. Nobody gave me a hard time because they knew I was having it off the next day.”
When she goes back to visit camp, it brings back so many good memories.
“A lot of things have changed. Most of the cabins at the time I was there were on the right of the dining hall. Now they’re on the left hand side closer to the water. The dining hall has changed quite a bit, but the waterfront is just about the same. They’ve done a lot to it and I’m so glad they do. I give what I can. More than willing to give what I can every year. I’m having trouble with my back again now, but they can’t do any more for it. I’m 83 and I guess I’ll make out all right.”