Thursday, June 16, 2011

Send Me To Summer Camp

Mama’s Losin’ It

As a homeschool jungle freak, I spent most of my childhood wanting to conform. I pined for the typical American childhood/tween years that Nickelodeon and kids literature presented, the one filled with home rooms, babysitting, crushes, shopping malls and summer camp.  

Now, why a girl who basically grew up in the woods felt summer camp was a necessary element of her childhood, I'm not quite sure. But I blame the Babysitter Club books. Jessi and Mallory were always having formative experiences at summer camp. Salute Your Shorts might have influenced this conviction as well.

When I was thirteen my dream was realized. I packed up my bags and headed off with my friend Kati for a week at her church's camp. It was a very Lutheran camp located on the west end of the national forest we live in, which meant we drove for about four hours and ended up in a place that looked just like where we'd all come from. 

Any previous references I'd seen about the typical summer camp experience lead me to believe scavenger hunts, jumping off floating rafts into the swimming area, arts and craft hour, and singing around the campfire were to be expected. Although we did a fair amount of singing around the campfire, the songs were all the religious songs, I'd learned during my Vacation Bible School days and our major project of the week was rewriting the Lord's Prayer in our own colloquial. Ah man. I totally thought I'd be learning map orientation skills. Imagine my disappointment when not one of the counselors walked around with their nose smeared with a thick layer of sunscreen.

To make matters worst, somehow on the bus ride over to the camp, every girl on the bus seemed to have gotten their periods. A week with cranky, hormonal thirteen year old girls? Awesome!!  

On our camp-out night, a thunderstorm prevented us from paddling over to the island campsite. Instead we were forced to backpack to a campsite where we prepared to pitch our tent on the side of the hill only to find we'd forgotten the tent stakes. (We used twigs to hold the tent in place that night as we slept at a downwards slant, blood rushing to our toes all night long.) When the camp counselors, who had the time seemed super old but were probably recent high school grads, couldn't get the fire started in the drizzle, our cabin's special needs girl started eating cold hot dogs straight out of the package.

It wasn't all a disaster. My memories of that week are pretty blurry, probably in part because of the sunburn  shown in my one and only photo from that week, but I have fond memories of making wax sculptures in the sand of the volleyball court, weaving yarn around two twigs to make "God's Eyes" and writing letter after letter home chronicling my adventures. My cabin swept the clean cabin award that week (anal and competitive even in those days) and one afternoon at the swimming hole, I felt my legs whip around behind me in a perfect breaststroke kick, a stroke I'd struggled with since joining the swim team early that year.

I never went back to camp. I got a big enough dose of conformity to last me a long time . . . well, at least until I started to feel like I ought to go to prom . . .

 

18 comments:

  1. I attended a Christian camp once when I was about 12 and always wanted to go back but never could because our family was financially strapped. I had alot of fun swimming, fishing, singing, and prasing! :) Good times...this was a gr8 post! Totally took me back! Visiting from FTLOB.

    Blessings, Kisses & Coladas,

    Jenny @ Jems From Jenny
    http://jemsfromjenny.blogspot.com

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  2. AWESOME! The hot dog comment made me snort!

    Thanks for visiting me today.
    I hope to see you around!

    http://bcimthemommy.blogspot.com

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  3. Ah Salute Your Shorts - they don't make kids television like that anymore.

    It's funny how when we were younger teenagers seemed so old. My counselors seemed really old to me and even the student teachers I had throughout school seemed so old to me and they were like 21.

    I'm loving reading everyone's summer camp stories, thanks for sharing!

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  4. You gave me a great chuckle this morning; nice start to my day! (I didn't attend summer camp until I was an 'old lady' and went as a camp counselor)

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  5. haha- I think "summer camp" or the idea of it is basically the american dream, tween style. Tell the people/ kids what they want!

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  6. Oh Ada, that sounds like the exact opposite of a dream summer camp experience. It must have been those darn Babysitters Club books, they made everything sound so amazing! Even babysitting, lol.

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  7. Funny--- I always wanted camp to be like BSC as well. Instead I went to tennis camps and horse camps. Which in theory sound fun, but the former resulted in tons a blisters and the latter was filled with mucking stalls....

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  8. I only did one summer camp as a kid - and that was only for a 3-day weekend. It was also a church camp and kind of lame. As an adult, I've been to summer camp with the Boy Scouts several times and I've (mostly) enjoyed it every time.

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  9. The hotdog comment got me too. Hilarious. Sorry it wasn't all you had hoped it would be.

    Stopping by from mama kats.

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  10. I loved camp when I was a kid, but I was a weird one. Your story was hilarious.

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  11. Awww Salute Your Shorts! I miss that show!!

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  12. I so related to this post. Clean Cabin award, that is very impressive and I hope you have that on resume.

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  13. I have to wonder what children these days think camp is like with those Camp Rock movies... I only went to summer camp once and loved it--it was church camp but it was the summer of Goonies so we spent our free time reenacting the movie when we weren't duct taping our councelor to a tree (they held her down and I ran around with the tape). But now I take my children back to that camp and I teach there so I'm living it through them. However, being the adult with responsibilities isn't as glamorous. At least no one has tried to duct tape me to a tree yet. Stopping by from Mama Kat's...

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  14. LOL! Clean cabin award? Maybe we Europeans missed out on something extremely boring. Ask the broom!

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  15. I miss Salute Your Shorts! That was a good show. I also missed out of the summer camp experience. Having never had the opportunity to go, I enjoyed tagging along on your adventure. Although it doesn't sound quite as glamorous as I always imagined :)

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  16. Your story is very funny, and your writig paints a very clear picture of your time at camp. I also only went to camp once, and I wouldn't have returned for anything in the world (and that is not an exaggeration). Thanks for sharing.

    Over here from Mama Kat's...

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  17. nice, Ada! I especially liked the exact same scenery after a 4-hour drive.

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  18. I went to summer camp once. Just not for me. I think my aversion was more that a) I think I got in trouble in a lot and b) there were GIANT bugs EVERYWHERE. I'm not a bug girl. OH well. Life goes on, right?

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