Friday, January 11, 2008

Day Camp

Let's take a break together. I know I need one. I'm in the mood for a little vacation, somewhere/sometime that's the opposite of too much responsibility in the middle of winter.

How about Day Camp, back in the salad days of my youth? Perfect.

Not all of my Day Camp experiences were ideal. When I was young and my mom was struggling to make ends meet, she could only afford the bargain basement camps. There was the "Roasted Kids R Us" camp, which didn't bother applying the sunscreen in my camp bag, and sent me home with appalling sunburns. I remember lying on my bed with wet tea bags all over me - my mom's traditional remedy to "draw out the heat".

There was Computer Day Camp, where I was accidentally enrolled (at the age of 12) with the 15-16 year-old campers. I could keep up intellectually, so I stayed. Unfortunately Beavis and Butthead were in my group. For two weeks solid it was non-stop teasing about the fact that I had no boobs. I was so shy back then. I just tried to ignore them.

There were two years, when I was 10 and 11, that my mom could afford to send me to an expensive camp on the grounds of a private girls' school. That's where the wealthy kids went. Four-leaf clovers grew thick on the ground among the verdant lawns, no word of a lie! That's how lucky the place was.

At the fancy camp, ancient trees shaded the lawns where we played Duck Duck Goose and Capture The Flag. The main school buildings were over 100 years old, built in a gothic style, of grey stone. At the end of each day we gathered in the gymnasium, which had a vaulted roof and tall, stained-glass windows. The sun flooded in, throwing patches of saturated colour onto the golden, glossy, wooden floors.

We'd have a sing-along. All the camp favourites sounded fabulous, reverberating in that space. Even "The Other Day I Met a Bear" and "Fish and Chips and Vinegar" sounded positively choral.

Ah, those were the days...

Camp stories, anyone?

9 comments:

Karen said...

No camp for me. I am not sure why my parents never sent us, but I was really jealous when I saw the movie Meatballs. I knew I was missing out on something fun.

We spent summers at shore with my Gram, my Aunts (who were school teachers) and my cousins. There was lots of bike riding, sailing, swimming and crabbing. My parents would come down every weekend, but they worked during the week. I guess that was my version of camp.

R.E.H. said...

I went to summer camp one year and lasted a full two days. On the second day we were out hiking in the woods, and I tripped on a protruding root. Then as I fell I landed with my knee on a fallen branch, and the knee buried itself deep in the side of my knee.

I remember feeling the pain - it was sort of numb at first. Then I saw the whiteness of my bones, and the red blood began to cover it.

Then I screamed!

They had to call some people to take me off the island and get me to a hospital.

Stupid doctor did a hatchet job patching me up, and I still have a big ugly scar there...

I never went back to camp!

Jenski said...

I went to Girl Scout day camp once. I think my mom knew that I was pretty shy and wasn't sure if I should go to stay-over camp. I have a very vivid memory of walking down a path that had poison ivy on both sides and I tried to be as narrow as possible and not touch anything because I have had some pretty bad cases of poison ivy. It also poured the one sleep over night of day camp. Lean-tos can get pretty wet.

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: Your summers sound quite pleasant. I don't remember that movie, although I think I saw it a gazillion years ago. Like all 80's movies, it probably made everything seem way more zany and fun than in reality.

R.E.H.: Mercy! That sounds terrible.
It reminds me of Ken's only camp experience. His parents signed him up for nautical camp that took place entirely on board a boat. He was horribly seasick and tried to run away each time the boat docked. He was miserable the whole time.

Jenski: Sleepover camp is intense, especially for younger kids. I'm such a homebody - I've never understood the appeal of roughing it with the blackflies and itchweed. Give me my nice, dry house over a tent any day.

Aurora said...

I love this post. Great descriptions of the wealthy day camp. I want to hear more about that camp!

I never went to camp--it's not an English custom. Instead I spent summers on road trips around the English countryside with my Granny, visiting elderly (or so they seemed then) relatives in Aylesbury, Maidstone, and Birmingham. I was proud to navigate and ride shotgun. I remember roundabouts and Little Chefs, and picnics on sunny riverbanks. Ah, those were the days...

Maxie said...

I went to basketball camp for one day when I was like 10. I cried because my shoe laces kept coming untied, LOL.

In high school I went to camps like non-stop. I went to this thing called Teen Institute for a week. We did outdoorsy stuff, but we also did work shops. I don't know how else to describe it, but it was pretty fun...

I also went to 4 volleyball camps, 2 basketball camps, and softball came over the course of the years... very fun :-)

jameil1922 said...

i'd rather not re-live it. not that it was horrible, i just don't think there was anything sparkling abt it but i sure would like to go to fancy camp right now! my friend's kitchen had acoustics like that. i couldn't stop singing when i was in her house. luckily i can carry a tune and her parents were rarely home so she loved it.

Keera Ann Fox said...

The summer camps I went to were all week-long bible camps (I don't know why, really). Mandatory items were sleeping bag, rubber boots and rain gear, and a bible. The typical camp would mean the rain gear got more use than the bible. Settling in our first day at one camp, we discovered that the fourth girl to share our room did not bring a bible. Two of the girls were already acquainted and those two gave No. 4 a really hard time about not having brought a bible. I kept silent. What got me was that the bibleless girl hadn't brought any spare underwear and that no one commented on that. My folks made sure I had a pair for every day of the week and then some.

My camp experiences were nothing like in the movies. Not one bit. Thank goodness.

Sparkling Red said...

Aurora: Touring the English countryside sounds like a lovely way to spend the summer. :-)

Maxie: You're a sporty girl! Cute story. It's funny, the things that made us cry as kids. Kids take things so seriously!

Jameil: Awesome! I love to sing. I have to be careful not to go hog wild in the shower at 6:30 am. I don't want complaints from my neighbours.

Keera: It really makes me mad when I hear about people who are supposed to be all spiritual being mean like that. I guess they were just kids. I hope they smartened up when they got older.