Story Feature

Tamakwa Sweater

Emily Chamberlin

August 15, 2023

Main Feature Image

I’d seen “Indian Summer” when I was pretty young, probably too young, and gotten obsessed with the movie and the camp where it was filmed, Tamakwa. I was like, this is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen. I want to go there. I want to be part of that. I used to make my friends play camp with me and I remember getting in trouble with my parents because I’d taken one of their duffel bags and written Tamakwa on it like you see in the movie. I wouldn’t shut up about Tamakwa. My parents tried to pacify me by sending me to day camp or to week-long sleepover camps, but it wasn’t what I had in mind. I was relentless.

I grew up in Delaware and when my siblings and I were teenagers, our grandfather gifted us a trip. Both my siblings went to Europe for the first time but I opted to go to Canada, to Camp Tamakwa, for a summer.

My grandfather must have called the camp and told them he wanted to give me some kind of camp clothing. He gave me this Roots sweatshirt the winter before I spent a month at Tamakwa in 2000. I was swimming in it, but I loved it and I wouldn’t stop wearing it. Almost 24 years later and it’s been everywhere with me.

“I bring the sweatshirt with me whenever I go to a bucket list-type place, like Mount Rainier.”

- Emily Chamberlin

One of the things on my bucket list is to hike Mount Rainier. For my 40th birthday, I want to climb to the top. To prepare, this past September, a girlfriend and I hiked the mountain as far as you’re allowed to go without a permit to assess where I’d need to be physically to meet that goal in a couple years.

The trip had another purpose. It was to spread the ashes of my friend on Mount Rainier. She had passed away pretty young but she’d been sick for a long time. Her parents were scattered on Rainier so her family asked if I’d be willing to carry her up the mountain and disperse her. I said, of course. Everyone deserves to live out their dream.

After I released the ashes and we were coming down the mountain, we ran into park rangers. They asked us why we were there. I told them I’d just spread the ashes of a friend on the mountain. They asked if I’d gotten a permit. I had no idea I needed one! They told me you’re supposed to get permission from the National Parks Department before dispersing ashes. I couldn’t recant what I’d said so I wound up making a donation to the park in my friend’s honor. Now, in addition to wearing the Roots Tamakwa sweatshirt whenever I check off a bucket list item, I guess I’d committed a federal crime wearing it too!