Cabin Fever

I don't think that the cabins at Miss Porter's Summer Camp for Girls were crafted to be ugly. The intent was to be a plain, blank canvas upon which to create one's masterpiece. After all, any five-year-old can craft a decent illusion in which to decorate a bedroom. The youngest girls took advantage of this design freedom to create outlandish spaces for themselves--caves encrusted with glowing jewels, castles made of clouds, jungles teeming with strange flora and hostile fauna. Older girls created opulent fabrics, exotic hardwoods and luxurious tiles. By the time one had spent ten years (the camp accomodated girls from seven to seventeen), most campers had outgrown the need to be surrounded by a fantastical environment. The unfinished floorboards might be given a dressing of color or some simple rugs. The walls, raw oak panels scarred by years of youthful irresponsibility, might be covered with the illusion of plaster and paint. Such was the sign of approaching adulthood. Not to mention that it takes more skill to create a plain, but pleasing appearance to one that is more ostentatious.

I recall one year decorating my section of the cabin inspired by Greek ruins. My bed was an oval cushion on a dais that looked over marble blocks and ruined columns. Rather than the wall with its simple four-pane window, the room opened onto a gentle slope with marble stepping stones partly covered by wild grasses marking paths to the dining hall camoflaged to look like a crumbling castle and the matrons' building looking like a half ruined temple. I was ten that summer and Miss Porter said that my illusion craft was better than most sorcerers twice my age. It seemed that Miss Porter liked me.