Author’s Note: The American Camp Association created a video in which actors and musicians share how their lives were changed for the better “because of camp.” After watching their video, I realized that I’d had a very different summer camp experience…
Because of camp I developed my first severe case of poison oak.
Because of camp I discovered that rock climbing didn’t build confidence, just bruises.
Because of camp my very first French kiss was with a circus arts girl whose tongue moved around in my mouth like a rabid skunk on roller skates.
Because of camp I thought that all girls French kissed that way, so I began kissing the same way too.
Because of camp hardly any girl ever wanted to kiss me. Only the crazy circus arts girl.
Because of camp I developed my first severe case of pink eye.
Because of camp I learned that I could lip-synch the hell outta “Stairway to Heaven.”
Because of camp I discovered that I enjoyed lanyard making far more than instructional swimming and horseback riding combined.
Because of camp I learned that the foxy girls rarely went for the lanyard-making guys—especially the ones with pink eye, poison oak, and couldn’t kiss for shit—no matter how good they were at lip-synching “Stairway to Heaven.”
Because of camp I discovered the true beauty of bouncing breasts during a volleyball game.
Because of camp I realized that I totally hated at volleyball, but kept playing because of the breasts.
Because of camp I discovered that the girls in the dance program were far hotter, and far better kissers than the girls in the circus arts program, but that on first hook-up the circus arts girls would easily go to third base, while the dance girls would only go to first.
Because of camp I discovered that most kids, without any hesitation or sense of remorse, would gladly torture and kill any insect or woodland creature they could get their hands on.
Because of camp I learned that I sucked ass in both carpentry and martial arts.
Because of camp I never got a chance to score with any girls I found remotely interesting because they were either getting scammed on by the male counselors or the guys that excelled in carpentry and martial arts.
Because of camp I learned to see backwards and forwards at once because no one could be trusted; especially the animal killers, the male counselors, and the guys that excelled in carpentry and martial arts.
Because of camp I took numerous enrichment classes—drama, SAT prep, photography—and realized that I only excelled in one: crime science forensics.
Because of camp I learned that, yes, I could still be severely depressed, even in the great outdoors.
Because of camp I discovered that there was actually a class for learning how to make your bed, and I sucked at it.
Because of camp I discovered that when you flip over in a canoe, once you hit that cold, dick-shrinking water and your balls go up into your throat, even your closest of friends suddenly adopt the mentality: Every man for himself.
Because of camp I learned to truly despise tie-dyeing. And balloon animals. And yo-yo tricks.
Because of camp I learned that I was prone to sleepwalking and snoring, but could make one hell of a Smores.
Because of camp I discovered that both golf and ceramics were a hell of a lot more tolerable after smoking a joint.
Because of camp I learned that the whole camp experience had very little to do with my parents wanting me to have an enjoyable summer, and more to do with them just wanting to get me the hell out of their lives for a month.
Because of camp I learned in religious studies class that if my parents didn’t accept Jesus Christ as their savior they’d go to hell, but that I wouldn’t.
Because of camp I learned that that maybe wasn’t such a bad idea: having my parents in hell while I kicked back in heaven.
Because of camp I discovered that the apocalypse didn’t necessarily have to be all war, famine, and death. It could simply be having to attend golf or ceramics class without a sufficient buzz.
Because of camp I learned that the girl with Bells Palsy—which made half of her face go numb and uncontrollable—would actually turn out to be the prettiest girl there after a week’s worth of antibiotics.
Because of camp I discovered beer pong. And consequently learned that what I lacked in ping-pong skills, I sufficiently made up for in drinking and barfing abilities.
Because of camp I learned that the kids on crutches always got the most attention. So during the night, when no one was around, I’d jump off the Smokey the Bear statue, trying to break my legs by landing on my knees. But it never worked.
I always landed on my feet.
Final Note: A special thanks to the following people for sharing with me their inspirational (and traumatic) camp experiences: Jessica, Marlene, Desiree, Tony, Tammy, Meghan, Khadija, Jean, Tracy, and MJ.
And now, dear readers, if you’d like to share your own comments and/or summer camp stories, I’d love to hear them…