The Serguci League is an amateur baseball league comprised of eight teams, playing a 42 game schedule from Memorial Day to Labor Day at historic Beano Field in Hillsboro, a former ballfield of a now defunct Army Supply Depot. The league has been around since 1948 and I played for the Hilltop Browns for ten years.
Another former Serguci League player, Ted Tucker from the West County Crusaders, belongs to a family that owns a summer camp about thirty miles north of Blue County called Camp Sunshine. Knowing that many Serguci League Players miss out on a lot of summer activities because of the long summer baseball schedule, Ted's family began offering use of the camp to both active and alumni Serguci League players for a long weekend the week after the league's season ended to give the players and their wives and girlfriends a chance to unwind and recapture the feelings of youth when many of us went to camp for real. No kids were allowed at the Serguci Camp getaway, dubbed 'Camp Sunset'!
I never took advantage of the camp when I was playing and I was razzed for that, even after I stopped playing but I never seemed to be with anybody at camp time and I didn't want to go stag since most people brought their significant others.
But I had a rough few weeks at work and I figured I could use a getaway so I called Tuck to see if there was any room left at this year's camping escape. He charged $200 bucks for the three day event, with the expectation that we helped close up the camp for the season that Monday morning. Tuck limited the numbers to around fifty people to keep things manageable with a reduced Staff working an extra weekend. As it turned out, Tuck had a last minute cancelation and I was welcomed to take that spot, even if I was going stag.
I drove up to the camp on my own after work on Friday, hoping to forget about the work crap, reconnect with some familiar faces, maybe take a nature hike in the woods, and just have a good time. Tuck said that the whole idea of Camp Sunset was to connect, share experiences, and relive a time of youth by going back to a time of silliness and fun, even with the adult dancing and bar!
I wasn't sure what to bring to camp in mid-September in New England – a bathing suit in case the weather cooperated, sneakers, hiking boots, sandals, bug spray, sunscreen, some sweatshirts and a sleeping bag.
Camp Sunshine wasn't hard to find following the Google Map instructions. It was located on a small lake seven miles from a little Vermont village. It was obvious that the camp had been around forever given the architect of the buildings but the place was clean and well maintained. There was a main office building, a eating hall, a small gym, several camp huts, bathroom and shower facilities, and a dock and boat house on the lake, with a huge athletic field that gave away to woods and hiking trails. The place had a kid's feel to it with a nostalgic sense of an era gone by and a childhood removed, but I didn't mind the surroundings. I was in the mood to feel young again.
I saw familiar faces of guys I played with and against along with their wives and girlfriends walking through the parking lot. Then I noticed Starlene Pulson getting out of her green VW bug convertible and I gave her a wave.
Some people assumed Starlene was a 'Baseball Annie' because she hung around the ball park so much and dated a couple of players but the truth was she had Serguci blood in her veins. Her dad played in the league many years ago and her two older brothers played as well. Starlene was a pretty good high school softball pitcher and she gave the Serguci League a shot, coming up with a deceptive side arm delivery and she was able to last a few seasons with the Browns as a reliever. We were teammates and we got along well together. I'd see her all the time around the ballpark after she stopped playing and we remained friendly.
"Hi Starlene," I grinned as she approached.
"Shotgun! Hi!" She laughed, giving me an unexpected hug. "What a surprise!"
My Serguci League nickname had been Shotgun based on my given name of Gaige.
"Nice to see you," I said. "You come with anybody?" It was kind of a stupid thing to say but I wasn't sure if she was dating a player or maybe she came with some family members.
"Na, I just came to hang out," she said. "You?"
"I'm on my own too," I said. "Maybe we can hang out together some."
"Sure, that would be great," She smiled.
A couple of Staff Members greeted us outside the main office with clipboards, letting us know our bunk assignments. The camp huts were set up for four people each so I realized it was going to be awkward for me if I was put up with another couple. Tuck came out of the main office and saw me. He took one of the clipboards from the Staff person and glanced through it.
"I could put you and Starlene together in a hut if you want," He said. "You're the only two here this weekend not with somebody else."
I glanced at Starlene, not sure how I was supposed to reply to the proposition.
"Sure," she said easily. "I don't mind."
We walked down 'Hut Row' until we found our hut. We were assigned Hut #14 ("The Piggly Wiggly" the sign above the door read) and we brought our bags and sleeping bags inside.
I hadn't thought about sleeping arrangements and I hadn't planned on sharing a hut with an attractive woman like Starlene but I wasn't going to protest either! She was as tall as me with long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail underneath her baseball cap, wearing designer jeans and a South County White Sox sweatshirt. If I was going to describe Starlene in one word it would be 'tomboy'. She was known as 'one of the guys' even though she was an attractive woman.
"The older we get, the harder it gets to make friends," Starlene announced as we checked out the hut and claimed our bunks.
"Good thing we're already friends," I replied.
There were four cots – two on each side of the room with a large writing table in the middle and four chairs around the table. Two windows and a small ceiling fan were the only other objects inside the hut.
"I like coming here because it's a bonding experience of making connections beyond the same people in your everyday life." Starlene remarked.
"This is my first time," I admitted as I rolled out my sleeping bag on my bunk on the far side of the room.
Starlene had claimed the bunk closest to the door, probably for easier access to the bathroom.
"You're going to like it," my new roomie told me.