Thursday, June 16, 2011
Send Me To Summer Camp
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.
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 . . .