It’s been in the nineties and humid in Manhattan this week, and I’m so thankful to be spending the dog days of summer chilling–literally–in my air-conditioned office. Of course, I’d rather be at the Harpy Beach House, or Banff, or the Scottish Highlands, but every summer I reflect on how glad that I don’t have to go to summer camp anymore.
See, I was a little geekling whose idea of a fabulous time was sitting in a corner with a book. I hated being rushed from one scheduled activity to another with no downtime (still do, actually). But MamaSharper, being a working mom, had to find something to do with me and my stepsister when school was out, so we were packed off to YMCA day camp. We swam, we played kickball, we made a lot of shit out of popsicle sticks, and we ate lunch every day in a local park that was absolutely rife with daddy-longlegs. I didn’t love it but I didn’t have a choice. Fortunately by junior high we were allowed to stay home instead. The dogs loved the company, and the Arlington Public Library became my de facto summer camp.
Now, if I wasn’t crazy about day camp, you can imagine how I felt about sleep-away camp. I gave it a couple tries, and both times it was an EPIC FAIL. Everything was so overscheduled. No time to read or daydream. The food sucked. I was shy. I didn’t want to make new friends–I wanted to be with my friends from home, my dogs and my family. Luckily, my parents realized it was a bad fit for me and never pressured me to go back.
I think I’m in the minority, though. I have many friends who loved camp the way I love birthday cake and Jon Hamm (PhDork is one of them). Here in New York City, it seems like every other Jewish woman my age went blissfully to summer camp year after year and formed meaningful lifelong friendships there. They make it sound so great I almost want to go back and give it another try–as long as I could work in a couple hours of reading time every afternoon.
Any happy–or unhappy–campers out there? Single-sex or co-ed? Did you love the bad food and bunk beds? Are you still in touch with your friends from camp? Bring your arts and crafts and bug juice to the comments…