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14 July 2008
I'm going to Summer Camp! I never got to go to camp as a child, but now in my abundant spare time, I've volunteered to spend a week helping run a camp. There'll be much capture the flag and water balloon fighting!
Oh man, summer camp. I went here 3 summers (when I went, it was in the Poconos)- once with my friend Anne, twice alone. The program director now was there when I went. I bet other than the location, it's exactly the same.
I never went to summer camp; my family went out on the fishing boat nearly every week of the summers, but I suspect that even if I had been in town, I wouldn't have wanted to go. I did a long-weekend winter camp once and just hated it. It was one entire weekend of forced-participation PE class complete with the jocks laughing at those of us who couldn't do things as fast/hard/good as they did.
I'm working even as I type at what's essentially a summer camp for foreign kids who want to come to New York for a few weeks to sightsee, shop, and maybe pick up a little English while they're here. I just take care of the money end, but maybe I'll give some tours during the next session.
My brother and sister-in-law met at a summer camp. They were both counselors. Lucky nephews.
When I was sixish, I went to a YMCA summer camp in Ellicott City, MD, which was, as my nephew described his own current summer camp, "mostly just Fun and Games." It was a day camp except for one sleepover night, of which I remember rows of tents on a dirt parking lot and a lot of giggling.
I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, so there were Jamborees and a camp, maybe up at Fort A. P. Hill; I just remember bugs and one of the kids assaulting another with a sharpened stick. The aggressor in that case went on to stab a girl to death during his senior year in high school. Coulda seen that coming.
I liked sitting by the fire most of all, talking all sorts of nonsense and eating hot dogs and smores.
I went to a few state-run summer orchestra programs on small college campuses, too, but I was a little older and spent most of my time trying to impress girls. It wasn't so much camp as it was college prep. The usual illicit drinking and sex punctuated by rehearsals and bald lies to authority.
I got lost in the woods once as a Boy Scout. Spent the night by myself in the mountains. It was pretty exciting. I climbed at dawn to the top of the nearest peak, where there was a flat rock outcropping, and shined my signal mirror in all directions until the rangers came and found me. My scout leader was fit to be tied, but I reminded him that I had told him specifically that I had to do number two, and that he had set off without me, so it was his negligence that left me stranded. I quit scouting not long after.
I was sent to religious summer camps for five years, or as I tend to refer to it, "Baptist Boot Camp".
I'm sad to say they really were not very fun. What with Morning Chapel, singing at lunch, rest time, devotions, Evening Chapel, and the odd cabin group meet with whoever the guest pastor was that week, you got about two hours per day to actually have any fun.
Not to mention that they would kick you out of the camp for holding hands with a girl.
I went to volleyball camps when I was that summer camp age. I have fond memories of the ones that took place at the Naval Academy. And were taught by former sailors. It was aweeeeeeesome. Especially the one year when they showed us how to make 'explosives' using lighters and empty soda cans. We would spend our free time playing 4s and triples and various unknown card games, typically using 3+ decks. Downsides included: having to walk ALL THE WAY ACROSS CAMPUS to the actual gate if we wanted to get pizza delivered and not being able to have boys in our rooms with the doors closed. Lights out at 10pm sucked too. I remember one year that it was raining so hard that we were allowed to use the secret tunnels under the campus to get from the gym to our dorm.
Camp was probably the single most formative experience of my life outside my family. I went to Girl Scout camp from ages 10-14 for about a week each summer, but the real heyday was the 8 years I spent counseling in a Quaker camp, residential/sleepaway. A good camp is a great environment to be in - creative, silly, accepting, adventurous, healthy, funny, warm, relaxed, goofy. I've seen it work miracles in all kinds of kids - rich, poor, shy, outgoing, smart, not so smart, handicapped, super-athletic...it's an amazing environment for growth. HAVE FUN.
There are some really bad camps, and many are just plain lame. You can always tell when people went to a good camp - they love it. I feel sorry for the missed opportunities of the lame camps. I've seen both in action (my brother ended up at a lame camp) and the good ones are worth seeking out.
I went to a few different summer camps. Church camp was terrible, but in the bush right by the beach so that was fun, and I did enjoy catching up with friends from all over every year.
I attended these music schools for years, and had a great time. In one class we dismantled a piano and wrote a concerto to play on the different pieces, and there was always a full-scale musical production at the end. Highly recommended for any kids with a musical bent living in Canberra!
I also had a grand old time at a circus camp, and a couple of different drama camps (including the National Institue of Dramatic Art youth week when I was 11 - that was intense).
Are school camps common in the US? I have been on many, many awesome school camps, including one where we took a week to do a 400km horse ride along the Bicentennial Trail, and lots of endurance and survival stuff in the bush.
I went to this camp. It wasn't too bad as far as summer camps go, I think. Rainy days always meant roller skating, forecasted rainy days that turned out actually sunny usually meant beach day (where once we saw a naked lady being chased by the police!).
The thing I loved best about it was the high focus on swimming. I love swimming now and I loved it then. We had structured laps time and also lots of great free recreational time too. I liked sports on fields the least, but that wasn't super common. I liked playing jacks (jax?) on the vast hardwood floors of the buildings. I hated practicing for the end of the season shows we had to do.
The worst experience was when a girl told me, upon finding out that I was Jewish, that she didn't like Jews but she liked me. I came home and told my grandma and my grandma said to tell her that Jesus was a Jew. I didn't do that of course, I was much too shy and why would I want to engage that creep anyway? But that fact sort of blew my mind. Jesus was a Jew! I hadn't known (I was about 8).
We went to "family camp" this summer--scout camp but with entire families. Shooting, canoeing, archery, crafts. It was quite fun. I then returned to the same camp for my son's Scout camp. He's 11, a Star, and needs an adult with him due to regulations. He scored six merit badges and I managed to join the "dime club," i.e. put five shots in a space the size of a dime at 30 ft. with a scoped .22
Age 11: Girl Scout camp. the camp itself was in a huge figure 8 shape. We had tents set up on wooden platforms in various locations along the top of the "8" to just after the crisscross. The pool was located on the lower right side of the "8". One night, a girl began sleepwalking. She walked from the upper left of the "8", right through brush, briars, and poison ivy at the crisscross, and was luckily found by a counselor near the pool!! She never felt a thing, but the next day her arms and legs were marked with all sorts of cuts and scratches.
Age 12: YMCA camp. Horseback riding in a ring. The stable owner asked me if I'd ridden before (very rarely) because she said I was a natural. (what an ego boost for an unsure 12 year old!) Another kids' horse was suddenly stung by a wasp - threw the kid on the ground, breaking her collar bone, and ran full tilt around all the other horses with scared kids sitting on them. The horse careened behind my horse, turned suddenly, and took off under my horses' nose. Bless my horse, he didn't even bat an eye.
Age 12: YMCA camp. We had to go to another camp for "games". I am not an athelete. I don't like sports, and I was even worse at that age. I hated volleyball, and of course we had to play. When it was my turn to serve, the other team began calling me names, saying I was an easy out, saying I was a nothing, a fat nothing. I gathered all my memories of my gym teacher showing us how to serve - and I went for it. Believe it or not, I got 21 points off of that team before they ever returned one ball. Ha!!
Age 12: same again. I got groped by a twelve year old boy for the first time!