I remember the moment I learned Collette Campbell lived in London. My immediate response was to assume she was joking. After all, she is Collette—there are few moments when she isn’t making you laugh, no matter what the situation. But I soon learned she was quite serious, and was further convinced that she was telling the truth when she exemplified an impressive British accent. London. Wow.
And then the song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” surfaced in my mind. This girl crossed an ocean—not a river, not a valley—an ocean, to get to camp.
“You should come visit!” she exclaimed, with her usual bright-eyed vivacity.
The lovely Mrs. Campbell, Laurie, earnestly confirmed the invitation on closing day. As we hugged Collette goodbye and watched her descend the front stairs of Riverside, Cambre and I exchanged wide-eyed stares.
We silently shared the same resolve: Let’s go.
Numerous emails, a few phone calls, two passports, two tickets and five months later, we found ourselves on an airplane, staring upon a puffy tundra of clouds which would eventually reveal the magical urban landscape of London.
Not only was it our first time out of the good ‘ol U.S. of A., it was also our first time on an airplane. Cambre was ecstatic. She was positively giddy during take-off. I just tried to focus on the happy things in life… like coffee, chacos, and being on the ground.
Thankfully we arrived on British soil safely. As we rounded the corner of arrivals, Laurie greeted us with a big smile and warmhearted hug. She swiftly oriented us to the Heathrow Express, the London tube, and a British Cab. Once we had settled into their lovely home, Laurie took us to a charming little café near the Campbell’s residence called “Baker & Spice.” Re-energized with scones, we proceeded into the city to the iconic places of London.
It is a surreal and magical moment when one finds themselves craning up Big Ben. The magic becomes even more potent when you’re strolling past red phone booths, Westminster Abbey, and standing at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
That evening we went to a delicious French restaurant with the Campbell family. Collette ordered in French—because she’s cool that way—and we chatted over a candlelit dinner. The primary topic was, of course, camp, for what better subject is there? Thus, we toasted to our coming week in London. What a week it came to be.
Upon our first sunny London morning (the weather was fabulous while we were there), we watched Collette seize several goals in a soccer game. We then ventured to Borough Market, a renowned British food market. In a word: heaven. That night, we played Pit (a game we brought to camp that Collette adores—and so do we!) with Collette and two of her sweet friends. It doesn’t take much for Skyline girls to get loud, but this game takes us to our highest volume of FUN
From then on, the trip flew by. We visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, the Churchill War Museum, Westminster Abbey, Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum, and Kensington Palace. Near Kensington Palace is ‘The Orangery,’ where Laurie and Collette treated Cambre and I to afternoon tea.
One morning, Todd (Mr. Campbell) acquired us Barclay Bikes and led us on a ride through town to Regent’s Park, where we hiked up Primrose Hill for a stunning view of the city! Collette’s Aunt Renee and Cousin Bernadette, who happened to be visiting as well, joined in on the fun. We loved getting to know them during our stay!
Collette took us to a few local London favorites, such as Covent Gardens—a sprightly part of town with restaurants, shops and (if you’re lucky) street musicians. We were fortunate enough to go on a night when an impressive string quintet was playing classical pieces. We grabbed some ice cream in the midst of the January chill and enjoyed a free concert.
On our last evening in London, we went to the American School in London to watch Collette’s play rehearsal. She played the fierce role of Akela the Wolf in ‘The Jungle Book.’ We were quite impressed!
Finally, that night, Cambre, Collette and I got dressed up and went to the Lyceum Theatre to see ‘The Lion King.’ It was an incredible sight to behold, serving as the grande finale to our week in London. The ice cream served at intermission was icing on the cake!
As every camper knows, camp goodbyes are some of the most heart-wrenching. You can’t help but hum that nostalgic vesper tune, “Mmmm I want to linger…Mmmm a little longer…” The morning we left London, we posed for our parting picture (wearing Skyline t-shirts, of course!) in front of a red phone booth. After hugging Collette tightly, we watched her disappear down the sidewalk on her way to school.
Just as we had on the first day, we enjoyed a treat at Baker & Spice with Laurie. We then loaded our suitcases into a cab, said our goodbyes to the family and sped off to catch our plane ride home.
Cambre and I still marvel that we actually took the trip. It was an adventure that we will reminisce about for the rest of our lives. With all our hearts we miss the dear Campbell family! We are so grateful for their generosity and hospitality. Having three Skyline gals in one household is quite an undertaking! Knowing that Skyline sisters live as far away as London makes one eager for the coming summer, and thankful for the love that draws campers to the mountain—across rivers, through valleys, and—ever so often—over an ocean. What a blessing it is to be part of such a widespread family.
Love to all Skyline Cuties,
Lauren Holley & Cambre Godwin