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(Charlotte Observer)   CSB Sunday Morning: Summer Camp   ( divider line
    More: CSB  
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1633 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Jul 2017 at 9:00 AM (13 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2017-07-15 10:10:38 PM  
Tomorrow I'm taking my son on  a 3 hour drive to leave him for 5 days with a group of relative strangers and teenage counselors. It's sort of an old-school camp where they don't allow electronic devices or calls home except for specified times. Even though I'm sure he's going to end up having a great time swimming, canoeing, and generally being an 8 year old boy, I can't help being concerned for him being lonely and overwhelmed with a bunkhouse full of dudes horsing around. He's an introverted "old soul" who likes extended time alone thinking or just sitting in the rain with his thoughts.

While I know it's silly to worry about my snowflake and all, growing up in the country, I never went to an official "camp". We could pitch a tent, canoe, or jump in a pond whenever we wanted within 2 miles of the house. Although I didnt go to camp, I did go to the lakes with my buddies, the Stone brothers, whose parents had a lake cottage on Lake Tippecanoe here in Indiana in the 80s. It was a different era then and I remember their dad driving the 4 of us up to the cottage on the weekend and then leaving us boys alone from Sunday to Wednesday or so when their mom would come up and finish the week out watching us. I was 13 at the time and the oldest brother(in charge) was 14. How we didnt manage to kill ourselves or someone else with their ski boat or pontoon I'll never know, but man were those 4 or 5 days of glorious Lord of the Flies freedom

So what memories do you have of summer camp, or of an extended summer vacation spent away from the watchful eyes, and good sense, of your parents?
2017-07-15 10:18:49 PM  
I somehow missed out on the fun that was church camp. Don't know if it was a money issue, me not expressing interest or something else.
2017-07-15 10:25:10 PM  
I went to supper camp for a few years. I have neither any especially fond memories nor especially awful ones, it was just meh.
2017-07-15 10:26:08 PM  
When I was 8 or 10, in the mid-70's in suburban Minneapolis, my mom sent me to summer camp. I think I was interested in going, I can't remember. Took a school bus from my school to camp. I was not a jock. just a skinny introvert, so this was all new and scary and intimidating. But I like to think I was smart, and a quick learner. I quickly ascertained who were the freaks and jerks to avoid, and the cool boys to hang out with. They had all the normal camp activities, swimming in the lake, zip lining (yes, even back then), archery, and other athletic events. But apparently their vetting process for the adult camp leaders wasn't the best. One day, at the beach, two male camp counselors got into a full on fist fight in the lake. As one stomped to shore, one of the kids called out "hey was that fake?" and he angrily pointed to his bloody face and said "DOES THIS LOOK FAKE?"  At that moment, I was thinking "damn, this is a low-rent camp. Mom I hope you didn't waste a lot of money on this."  Overall though, it was a lot of fun, and I am glad I went.

Dugit, your son will be fine, he'll have fun and it will build his character.
2017-07-15 10:26:52 PM  

aerojockey: supper camp

it is just an endless buffet?
2017-07-15 10:31:05 PM  
Summer camp really helped me learn about being a male. Seriously. I had three sisters, my cousins were all females but for one cousin who was no role model to be polite. Will think of CSB later.
2017-07-15 10:31:35 PM  
Summer camp as a kid. Nearing the end. We were fishing, and I was stuck with the rest of the girls. Suddenly someone hooked a trout.

Only, the hook went through the face and just under the eye. Since we were sport fishing, we had to throw them back, and the girl was squealing an squeaking and generally throwing a holy fit about having to unhook this fish.

"EWWWWWWW! It's eye is hooked! OMG"

The other girls from the cabins stepped back at her antics. So, being me, I stepped forward, grabbed the struggling fish, and carefully worked that hook out of its face, managed to not hurt the eyeball, named it Bob, then threw it back to swim in the lake until some other hapless camper caught it.

Then the girl threw a holy shiatfit about having to touch the nightcrawler bait to catch another one. Yep, I had to hook that, and during the process, she managed to step on the rod and I scratched the holy hell out of my palm because it pulled the hook through it. Fortunately, it never got infected, but I bled a bit.

I called her a nasty name and the counselor heard, but when she saw what happened, she pretended that I was a saint.
2017-07-15 10:37:42 PM  

Barnacles!: aerojockey: supper camp

it is just an endless buffet?

It actually was, now that I think about.  Every meal was free seconds and thirds.  In fact, I now remember there were some kids who were kind of bullies who sat at my table in the mess hall.  But I discovered that they were weirdly disgusted at people who ate a lot.  I spent the rest of the week gorging on breakfast and lunch just to annoy them.

Of course, now that you've reminded me of that, I can no longer proudly say that my summer camp experience was entirely 100% meh any more.  Damn you.
2017-07-15 10:40:45 PM  
I was a summer camp counsellor at an all girls camp.
I was in scouts, my sisters were in the sister scouting organization, Camo Fire Girls. (Founded by the same folks)
So when I'm like 14, my m9m asks me if I can sort of babysit the 4 young sons of one of the leaders. Hell yes. Her one daughter would be there an she was very pretty.
So I spend a week there. It's all girls. Female staff, counselors, campers. Damn.
The deal is, it's a United Way camp with CFG, and half the girls are from the burbs, half are from the projects.
By the end of the week, they are tighter than bugs in a rug, despite differences.
The next year I ask if they need me to babysit.
Nope, the boys are not going, but they need a cook.
Year after that, I was waterfront, and nature instructor, and the year after that, lifeguard.
By the time I am 19, I'm the man.
The entire time, I'm being an Angel.
No farking around. But I'm networking.
And any little thing with a crush on me I tell, call me when you turn 18.
Well, the phone rang off the hook in my 20s.
I gathered my rosebuds while I could.
And some of these gals, from the early 70s, I am still friends with.
We had some great times.
I got native friends of mine from pow wows I went to to come to the camp and dance for the girls.
I was escorted through the rough part of town _(hill district) by campers when I did a march of dimes walk.
One girl lives near me and is a Heck if a welder, and damned right, I will be asking her for a favor in a project.
I visit some if the women that ran the camp who are quite elderly and they love that.
My life was enriched by the entire experience and despite having to deal with the occasional fresh out of a Steinum book vigilante feminist, I have awesome relationships with all the women in my life.
I'm not the average guy.
I expect a lot out of people, and I grab the right person for a job, regardless of gender.
Because if this, I ended up with an obgyn for a primary care physician, and I explained to her it was her academic qualifications tha5 got her my busniess.
I earned a lot and learned a lot working those years. I even took time off if better paying full time jobs in high school to go to camp.
I now have lifetime friends.
I can sleep through anything.
And bad weather is nothing.
Friendship is everything.

Camp YOGIA (young girls in action) was one of the best memories of my life.

I saved lives.
I molded women

They learned not all guys are jerks.
I learned people thrown together can bond and do great things.
2017-07-15 10:51:19 PM  
We played lots of D&D and it was the first time I saw a Penthouse magazine.

2017-07-15 10:54:31 PM  

dugitman: It's sort of an old-school camp where they don't allow electronic devices or calls home except for specified times...

Oh, there's a reason they don't allow electronics. I worked briefly as a camp counselor back in the 90s, and there was this one session where a boy of around 8 or 9 asked one of my fellow counselors if he could use his Tamogotchi virtual pet thingy. The damn thing beeped all the time. The kid eventually got the idea that it was distracting and shut it off. It had taken me a good bit of restraint to ignore it, despite being one of the more patient counselors there.

Kids typically didn't call home because they were too busy enjoying themselves to get homesick.

Out of several summers spent at camp, including a couple as a counselor, it's gonna take me a while to pick something out. To be non-specific, I've always been amazed at how memorable those short periods were of just 12 days at a time, or a few 5 day ones I worked as a counselor, and at how well I got to know everyone there.

Oh, and dugitman, I could describe myself in the same way as an introspective, relaxed sort of kid. He'll love it, trust me.

Reminds me of one time at camp when I was 14, a girl there told me. with a smile, that I was the most mellow guy she'd ever met. That had to have been one of the best compliments I'd ever gotten.
2017-07-15 11:07:16 PM  
First kiss at about 13.

First lay at 15.

God, I loved summer camp. Hartford County 4H Camp, Marlborough, CT.
2017-07-15 11:09:10 PM  
I only got to attend one summer camp in my youth: a week of swim lessons (12hrs per day) at UofM. As I recall, I was far too tired to feel homesick. The young ladies were cute, but I was far too tired for anything there as well. After that camp, I went from being a pretty good swimmer to a pretty damned fine one. Not Olympic levels, but up there. The next spring, my parents divorced and money got a little more rationed.

My oldest two went to a 'normal' summer camp up in the mountains a couple years ago. They were nervous when we left them, but in the hour it took to process them into camp they warmed up. They were sad to have us come back to get them a week later, feeling like it was just not quite enough time (which is the goal, after all). Last year, we barely needed to stop the car engine: they were pushing through the processing steps so hencube and I could leave them to enjoy camp already. They weren't so sad to see us return, but really enjoyed their time. No camps this summer, unfortunately, because that camp isn't running and other commitments. Next year, most likely we'll send all three somewhere.
2017-07-15 11:20:20 PM  
I spent a week at Boy Scout camp every summer for six years.  It was always fun and there are so many stories.

One of my favorites was telling scary stories to the younger Scouts.  They had taken out all the pit toilets and replaced them with a sewer system and flush toilets.  So we came up with a story about the reason why.  Some years back, one of the best camp counselors - an Eagle Scout, no less - had gone insane over a summer and had killed a number of campers.

Late at night, he would hide in the pits under the toilets.  If a Scout went to the bathroom late at night by himself, a hand would come up out of the toilet and pull him in.  They would eventually find the body inside the latrine.

But the crazed Eagle Scout knew how to live in the wilderness and they were never able to catch him.  Some people think he's still out there.

Which is why all the pit toilets were replaced with flush toilets.  That way, the hand can no longer come up and grab you.

Some of the younger kids completely bought the story.  (For the record, this was in the 1980s, so stories could not be easily verified on the Internet.)  They were genuinely afraid and we did everything we could to encourage that.  If I saw one of the young Scouts headed to the bathroom at night. I'd say something like, 'do you want me to come along?  That guy is still out there.'  So I'd walk with them over to the bathroom and stand outside the door.

Very seriously I'd tell them, 'be sure to check for a hand in the toilet.  You never know.  Yell if you need me.'
2017-07-15 11:42:34 PM  
Ah camp...

Even though I went every year for 6-8 summers with the Boy Scouts I really have very few memories other than snippets here & there.

Up in the Sierras after a looong hot hike, jumping into a snow fed stream that drifted it's way over glacier scrubbed granite boulders.  There were lots of sun warmed pools in those boulders so that you could choose to freeze a bit in the main stream or sit in a natural 'hot' (slightly above warm in reality) tub.

Wilderness Survival merit badge class near the end of the week - being handed a live chicken early in the morning (1 per 2 people) & being told not to loose it as it was going to be dinner at the end of the day.... fun times chasing that damn bird all around the woods.  It was a pleasure to wring it's neck hours later.

In the later years going off to a special 2 week leadership camp where you were deliberately mixed in with 8-10 other 16 year olds from all over the state (nobody knew each other) & we had to suddenly learn not only how to get along but to lead/follow each other starting from day one (leadership roles in the patrol would switch every day - if you didn't do your part as a peon, you were screwed when it was your turn to take charge...).  Fantastic learning opportunity, it really helped out a lot when the Army years rolled along a few years later.

Snipe hunts, both being taken on them & then a few years later leading them....

Then years down the line being with my own boys at their camps & realizing (far too late) just how much time & effort got put into everything by the adults to make it seem like the boys were out having adventures all on their own.  I truly wish that I could go back in time to see/thank that small herd of fathers who hung out in the back of the school's cafeteria on Tuesday nights/played poker nonstop for the week at camp & seemingly did nothing else.  How wrong I was.  The best you can do though is pay it forward, hopefully my sons learned that lesson as well.
2017-07-16 12:42:50 AM  
I went to Catholic summer camp in North Carolina. We sang or prayed before meals in the refectory. Sometimes we sang Edelweiss. I have no idea why. There was a huge sign on the wall with the Edelweiss lyrics, and another with the Our Father.

We had horseback riding, a lake and canoes, a big swimming pool, a rifle range with .22s, arts and crafts, and various ball sports all of which I enjoyed.

Our Lady of the Hills, now they diocese sold it and it is some sort of hotel/retreat place.
2017-07-16 01:04:11 AM  
I went to this Christian camp right before 8th grade.

I don't remember much other than this guy beat the crap out of me because a girl he was "working on" turned her attention to me instead.

It wasn't my damn fault. I didn't pursue her. She came to me.
2017-07-16 01:07:49 AM  
I won a belly flop contest at scout camp once. My Dad didn't want me to do it because he thought kids would make fun of me. The exact opposite happened.

We had three tries. My first was more of a dive than a flop. Second was better, 3rd won me the contest. Id never intentially belly flopped before. It was off a 2 foot platform on a floating dock. My chest was red for hours. Totally worth it.
2017-07-16 01:24:49 AM  

TheBeastOfYuccaFlats: We played lots of D&D and it was the first time I saw a Penthouse magazine.


Similar experience.
Winter camp, whenever we weren't required to do stuff we were playing Rifts or Star Wars rpg. The Scout leaders one being my dad would just roll their eyes.
My star wars character had wolverine type lightsaber claws, but left the Jedi order and was a Han Solo type smuggler.
2017-07-16 02:56:34 AM  
My dad ran a Boy Scout Camp before I was born (he was the camp director while he was going to college) yet I never went to summer camp.

I'm not good at camping.  I've tried it a lot, but I love toilets, showers, and flat screen TV's.  To me roughing it is staying at a Motel 6.  My dad still loves me.  Well, he says he does.  Good enough.
2017-07-16 05:57:13 AM  
We sent our oldest son to farm camp in Ohio's Amish country when he was 11 or so.  Daily chores, no TV, sleeping porch, Amish hat as part of the uniform, etc. (but some really cool agricultural and natural activities too).  So, my dad rides down with me to pick the kid up after a week and I warn him that little Mr. Technology and Creature Comfort is going to be really pissed at me for shipping him off to such a wretched place.  Instead, when we pulled in he walked up to the car smiling and advised us that he could give us a tour of the farm after he finished his chores, including the calf he had seen being born earlier in the week.  It was that exact moment when our relationship transitioned out of the Daddy Caregiver stage and into a more adult level of communication and it never went back.
2017-07-16 07:02:37 AM  
Boy Scouts. Camp Bailey in NC, for several summers.  Woods skills, hiking, shooting, etc. including courses for various merit badges. I wanted to complete the required steps for the Morris Code merit badge, which was offered. The instructor was great, I was catching on and at 13, I was confident that I'd pass. However the bastard gave the final exam message in French.

/barely passed, got the badge
// learned to always expect the unexpected
2017-07-16 08:24:14 AM  
Church summer camp.  We had one in Florida where I grew up.  I really liked it.  They bunked you with a friend if you requested. Lots of activities: pool, volleyball, crafts.  Every evening after dinner there was a worship service.  I remember the setting more than the services.  Beautiful chapel with large windows overlooking a sunset lake and lit oak trees.  The services I remember ramped up, so the last night of the camp, there was a big inspiring push with music and preaching, and lots of kids came to the rail and knelt and became "born again."

But one of the other things about church summer camp was the camp counselors, preaching Jesus and the need to become to "accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior."  I just wanted to go to the pool!  And even as a junior high schooler, even though my parents were practicing Christians, I didn't buy the whole thing.  And I was bugged all week long about accepting Jesus.

So the next year I was to go, I had a plan, which I executed.  The very first night I was there, after the evening service, we were in our cabin with the counselor, having a "rap session" (this was the 1970s).   I told him, and the group, "I accepted Jesus tonight."  My brilliant plan was to get it out of the way, so they'd stop bugging me and move onto another kid.  Enjoy the week without annoyance.

"This is amazing!  Praise Jesus! Let's all hold hands and pray and rejoice for David's rebirth!"  ...And the rest of the week I was pestered constantly by counselors wanting to talk about what it means to be a Christian. I just want to make a mosaic out of tiny tiles!  JESUS, LEAVE ME ALONE!

It didn't go as planned.
2017-07-16 08:36:41 AM  
Went to boy scout camp around age 8.  I was miserable the entire time.  Ended up getting very sick the last 2 of 5 days and they denied me from calling home.  To be fair, I think everyone else had a pretty good time.
2017-07-16 08:59:02 AM  
Boy scout camp.
Kids drowned.
Got hit by lightening.
Broke bones.
 Venomous bites.
Good times.
2017-07-16 09:16:15 AM  
Kids who went to summer camp probably had ponies.

Also, oblig:
Allan Sherman - Hello Muddah Hello Faddah (1963)
Youtube 9jjiWS__Mp0
2017-07-16 09:17:23 AM  

vudukungfu: Boy scout camp.
Kids drowned.
Got hit by lightening.
Broke bones.
 Venomous bites.
Good times.

Jeez, sounds almost exactly like my boy scout camp, except the lightening part and it was only a partial drowning.
2017-07-16 09:23:09 AM  
When I was a kid, I was told I'd be going to Snow Camp.  And my friend who'd been hit by a car and kinda disappeared for months would be going, too.  Awesome!!!  So I'm packing and mom gives me a bible to take.  Why would I take a bible?  "Just in case."  I get there and, "Welcome to bible camp!"  Uh...ok.  Hey, there's Dave!  But Dave's totally different now.  Apparently there was some brain damageamageamage from the accident and now he's got a different personality.  Kind of a jerk, actually.  Of course, nobody warned me about that.  Or the bible thing.  It was as weird week.  Not a terrible week.  Just weird.  And Dave pretty much came back to normal over the next few years.
2017-07-16 09:26:25 AM  

jtown: When I was a kid, I was told I'd be going to Snow Camp.  And my friend who'd been hit by a car and kinda disappeared for months would be going, too.  Awesome!!!  So I'm packing and mom gives me a bible to take.  Why would I take a bible?  "Just in case."  I get there and, "Welcome to bible camp!"  Uh...ok.  Hey, there's Dave!  But Dave's totally different now.  Apparently there was some brain damageamageamage from the accident and now he's got a different personality.  Kind of a jerk, actually.  Of course, nobody warned me about that.  Or the bible thing.  It was as weird week.  Not a terrible week.  Just weird.  And Dave pretty much came back to normal over the next few years.

Forgot to mention that the weird thing about being sent to bible camp is my family wasn't very religious.  My grandma went to mass every Sunday but she was the only one.  I'd go with her once in a while but not because I was forced.  It was just something to do on the occasional Sunday when I got up and dressed early enough.  They could have said, "You're going to bible camp and there will be snow" and it wouldn't have been weird.
2017-07-16 09:26:41 AM  
I was pissed because it wasn't at all like Meatballs.
2017-07-16 09:36:18 AM  
I was a counselor at a church camp in my teens. Got my first beej behind the cafeteria building from one of the female counselors. Preachers' kids are always the wildest ones.
2017-07-16 09:37:12 AM  
I went to a summer camp in Estes Park, Colorado for 6 or 7 summers and during the first two summers of college worked as a counselor at another camp in North Carolina.

I met the girl I would lose my virginity to when I was a camper and I met the woman who would become my wife (19 years next week) when I was a counselor and right now our children are at the same camp in NC.

Summer camp was amazing.
2017-07-16 09:48:20 AM  
I was a camp counselor in Northern Minnesota for several years in the 90s.  Just out of high school.  It was big fun and a lot of work, but had some of my fondest memories and met some of my dearest lifelong friends.  I only wish I'd had a chance to be a camper.

As staff, we worked hard to bring that magic to the campers.  Making it fun was essential.

Younger campers tend to be more susceptible to homesickness, but they are also more likely to really be into the whole camp experience.  They're usually into the singing, up for any games, and all about having fun.  Once kids start hitting those teen years, it gets more difficult to pull them into activities.  Some will still love it, others are too cool for this or that.

Advice for new camp parents: Send packages, but not candy.  Cookies work.  When you send letters, try to focus more on how much fun the kid must be having at camp rather than how much you and the pets miss them.  Battling homesickness is about keeping them busy with the things at camp, and not thinking about all the stuff they are missing back home.
2017-07-16 09:50:30 AM  
When I was around 10 I spent 2 weeks at a summer camp at West Point.

Later I was interviewed by the FBI to see if I had been sexually molested there by a councilor.
2017-07-16 09:52:35 AM  
I spent 4 years working at a camp year round, and when summer camp came around I actually had very little to do with it, as my position was based around the school programs we ran.

However, when those female college counselors came back and felt obligated to run around in bikinis all day everyday, it was pretty awesome.

/except when they were in the climbing harnesses
//seriously, put some clothes on then
2017-07-16 09:54:34 AM  
A local over night camp is owned by the school board - and named Camp Crystal Lake.  And I went there when those movies were out in the 80s.  My oldest daughter attended - a friend who I had been to camp with was the director.  Kinda cool.

I've done 120 mile loops of the Appalachian Trail as part of summer camp - twice.  Probably my best camp and camping experiences right there.

Only camp that sucked for me was my mom made me go go Camp Hess Kramer for a whole month.  Malibu California, a camp for Jewish kids.  Being the non-Californian there, it really sucked for me, mostly due to the other campers.  Oh well.  They found out that southern redneck jews know how to fight, fight dirty,and win.  They also discovered that we have no fear, and will cheerfully go catch the rattlesnake that got into the girls shower block, or that small one crossing the trail up ahead, and then for extra points kill it, skin it, and ask about using the camp kitchen to cook it.
2017-07-16 09:56:06 AM  
I went to diabetic camp, which was a lot like any other camp except that they would give us small snacks before activities and the nurse's office was a lot busier and very well stocked with both insulin and sugar. The main thing I liked about camp was that we could have Diet Coke, which (along with all other caffeinated drinks) was absolutely forbidden to me at home. So I would look forward to going to this camp every year just so I could get that Diet Coke.
2017-07-16 09:56:26 AM
2017-07-16 09:57:48 AM  
Never went to any "summer camp". My family would take long cross-country trips every year. We'd spend the month after school let out planning our trips, selling Kool-Aid, worms, cherries, mowing lawns, delivering papers, recycling aluminum cans, etc., for spending money on those trips.

And we went on fantastic excursions...Mt. Rushmore, SD; St. Louis, MO; Wall, SD; The Badlands (both North and South Dakota); Louisville, KY (my mom's from that area...she was born and grew up in Jeffersonville, IN); Grand Canyon, AZ (we hit Zion and Bryce that year, as a triple whammy ;) My two youngest brothers caught mono from a drinking fountain, so they spent the majority of the trip in misery), Las Vegas, NV; Seattle, WA; Yellowstone National Park, WY (we came in from West Yellowstone, MT, after visiting Quake *that* was a trip), Virginia City, NV, etc.

We usually planned to hit all the major attractions in one fell swoop during our trips...we'd write to the various chambers of commerce, and ask for brochures of any major attractions along the way, and what sorts of souvenirs we could purchase.

And, we didn't travel in any car sedan, or station wagon...Dad would put our Open Road camper in the back of his pickup, tie that farker town tight, load up the fridge and coolers full of soft drinks, beer (for the adults), snacks, food, ice (to keep everything cold), our toys, books, and bedding (sleeping bags and pillows), connect the intercom between the cab and camper (so we could tell he and Mom to stop at the next rest area, so we could use the facilities), and off down the road we'd go.

We made long-lasting memories, and lots of friends at the various KOAs and private campgrounds we'd stop at for the night.

I'd love to go on at least one more long road trip, if only for the nostalgia *wistful sigh*
2017-07-16 10:01:05 AM  
/the camper on the pickup was *our* version of a motorhome ;)
2017-07-16 10:07:23 AM  
I went to several Scout camps during my tenure in the late 70s to mid 80s.  All years were tons of fun, but if one thing was common to all the camps, it was that the kids would be down at the waterfront all day long if they could.  As soon as we were dismissed from dinner for example, half the Scouts would haul ass down to the waterfront like the camp was burning down, just so they could get dibs on a sunfish.  All the sunfish taken?  Fine, I'll take a canoe.  No more canoes?  *Sigh* rowboat.

One camp had an interesting idea that made a lot of sense.  When it was time for the parents to collect their snowflakes, they'd park in the lot at the entrance, and walk in.  Along the way, all the items in the lost and found (90% clothing) would be laid out along the roadside.  If it looks familiar, now's the time to grab it.
2017-07-16 10:07:54 AM  
I had a good experience as a kid at camp except for swimming in the lake. It was dark and all manner of slimy shiat and creatures kept rubbing against me. I still hate going in lakes. Figures I ended up in Minnesota.
2017-07-16 10:09:36 AM  
Growing up in PEI, I always envied the other kids whose parents could afford to send them to "real" summer camp. I watched "Meatballs" over and over like it was a documentary.

Don't get me wrong... It's not that I didn't "camp". On the contrary, most of my teenaged summers were spent in tents in the woods. I was a cub scout, then a Boy Scout until I became (what I thought was) too cool for scouts at 14 or so and started camping on my own and with my best friend "Frenchy". But the Scouts taught me independence, and how to camp.

It was the 70's, things were different. Most summers, Frenchie and I spent hitchhiking, canoeing or hiking for a week or more at a time, through the woods of maritime Canada. We took three days to hitchhike the 5-hour drive to my family homestead in Nova Scotia, having all manner of amazing 14-year-old adventures along the way.

At 14 & 15 years old, I've canoed down rivers where we didn't see evidence of another human for 3 days. We were naturally respectful of other people's property - We broke into an old cabin we found deep in the woods once because I'd lost our only lighter overboard. We spend most of our time ensuring everything we touched was put back exactly where it belonged, and left the owners a note with our contact info. It was the 70's and things were different.

On more than one of these camping adventures, we were picked up (hitchhiking) by exceptionally friendly people - Often invited to their homes, introduced to their families, fed and put up for the night. Occasionally we'd hook a ride from a weirdo but always managed to "escape" before things got dangerous. It was the 70's and things were different.

Looking back, I still can't help but feel like I missed something, never having attended a "real" summer camp but I'm also fairly sure that most organized summer camps would have paled in comparison to the fun and adventures we had.

I found out last Tuesday via Facebook that my best buddy, the one I could always easily convince to do almost any stupid crazy-assed shiat... My best buddy Frenchy died last week at 54. We haven't seen each other in over 30 years, but I am still sadden at the realization that as much as we dreamed and discussed and planned to eventually do it, we'll never get go to a "real" summer camp together. Rest well Frenchy.
2017-07-16 10:12:39 AM  
Two times at Camp Chawanakee on Shaver Lake, once at Emerald Bay on Catalina and once on a week long 50 mile hike through the Los Padres National Forest.
Water skiing off Emerald Bay was good. I remember doing a mile swim on Shaver with my safety escort yelling at me the whole time to slow down even though I wasn't swimming very fast. He was an odd duck. Had to earn money to pay for it each year. The outrageous experience was a long weekend as a Church camp because that one was drugs, booze and mingling of the sexes ,though that took place in winter.
2017-07-16 10:17:46 AM  
Never went to summer camp, however I started skydiving at 33 and found out that dropzones are essentially adult summer camps....with "no rule's"
2017-07-16 10:18:07 AM  
First of all, dugitman, your son will love it. I was about the same age and introspection level when I got dumped into a summer camp. I went back for 9 years and was on staff for 3 after that. Electronics being banned are pretty normal, but ask about letters from home or small packages. If that's cool, you should pick up a couple of minor treats (that won't melt; AC at camp is non-existant outside of the nurse's office or the kitchen) and write him a letter from home. The camp I served was Sunday afternoon through Friday afternoon, and the younger ones got a little homesick around the Tuesday night/Wednesday morning point since that's the rough time that a kid realizes he's away (before that can be rationalized by "it's just like a weekend sleepover"). If you plan to send a letter, time it for that.

Now, my collection of CSBs.

1. In high school, they held a servant high camp. Kids going out into the community and working on service projects. For the staff, it was our Superbowl. Everything had to be perfect since the service projects got attention from local churches (It was a Lutheran camp) which inspired donations, and seniors in high school were our best recruiting tool for future staff. My senior year, we went out to help a little old lady clean out an old barn on her property. Her husband had died and she was selling the property, so she told us to take anything we wanted. My group leader found a box of 5 sided plastic roofcaps (like on a gazebo) and we turned them into hats for the team. After the project was over, we piled into his car and "got lost". He bought craft paint and stickers so we decorated those stupid things. Every other camper immediately wanted the same hat. Funny enough, I had the pleasure of working with a girl on staff who was also on my servant high team. We both still had our roofcap hats.

2. When I was on staff, I was a lifeguard. And during the little ones (1st-3rd grade), we had to be in a boat with them while boating. Kids that young suck at it, no exceptions. I had a group of 1st grade girls from a buddy cabin and the rule in my boat was everyone had to talk like pirates. We were THE loudest boat on the lake while their counselor was face-palming the whole time on the dock. One of those girls was on support staff under my sister (who is now a 2nd year director), and she (other girl) brought it up at a staff meeting.

3. My sister met her fiance at camp; he was one of my campers. I had my kids sign a poster every week and it became a cool bonding experience at the end of the week. We did our heaviest night devotions on Thursday, sharing stories until whenever. I still have the posters. His signature hasn't changed since middle school.

4. Kids are weird about showering. We had a group shower setup, but every individual shower had walls and a privacy curtain. Any kid who was squeamish got to shower last. Most got over it in a day or two. My rule as a counselor was you must shower on either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning (after our sleep out in the woods night, also the halfway point in the week) and you must shower either Thursday night or Friday morning. Any combination between those two days is fine for a minimum, and more is obviously encouraged. The reason? So I could look parents in the face at the end of the week.

"Did my son take a shower this week?"
"Yes ma'am. He took one last night"
2017-07-16 10:24:06 AM  
Grew up in the country with livestock and houses with dodgy plumbing and party line phones and no tv reception to speak of and red neck friends, neighbors, and relatives.   My whole life was camp.  I couldn't get away fast enough.

Went to an FFA leadership camp once.  It was ridiculous.  People get way too serious about things and there were a lot of really mean pranks played on people.  Not my idea of a good time.
2017-07-16 10:31:48 AM  
Other great summer camp experiences I had include Sea Base with the Boy Scouts twice - once with my troop for 2 weeks of sailing, and once un-affiliated for 2 weeks of SCUBA.

Did Junior Olympic Shooting camp as well, it is where I learned to really use iron sights as well as 3 and 4 position small bore rifle shooting.  And got introduced to skeet and trap.
2017-07-16 10:33:21 AM  
Many years ago, one of my (first) cousins was worried about her son's behavior. (He was about 6 years younger than I am and always in trouble for something).

So her and her husband sent him to Bible camp. Well, less than a week in they got a phone call that they were bringing him back. The camp did roll call, couldn't find him, panicked, sent out search parties, and found him a couple hours later skinny dipping with 4 girls from the next camp over. He was 12.
2017-07-16 10:50:12 AM  
I was a counselor at a boy scout camp in the 80s - lifeguard, taught canoeing, rowing, swimming, etc.  Lots of fun.

Anyway, at this camp they always had a bonfire on Friday nights.  the usual skits, dumb camp songs etc.  They had kind of a stage set up with "footlights" consisting of half buried #10 cans with rolls of toilet paper in an inch or so of kerosene.  And a huge stack of wood 7 or 8 feet high for the fire   Of course, never enough actual dry wood for a fire that size.  So you had to help it along by soaking the stack with kerosene or diesel.

Which brings us to our hero.   Don't remember his title - assistant camp director or something like that.  I don't really remember why everyone hated him, but we did.  He was some know-it-all that had probably finished his freshman year and was oh so grown up compared to all us kids :/

So, we're setting up for the bonfire Friday night and he decides to exercise his leadership by being the "adult" and getting the fuel for the fire from the big hand-crank tanks behind the groundskeeper's shed.

Except he used the wrong tank.

He came back with a 5 gallon can of gasoline and dumped it on the stack.  And, because this was going to be an awesome fire because he was in charge, he went back for another can.

The footlights are already lit by this point.  And as he's dumping the 2nd can on, the vapors crept along the ground the 20 or 30 feet to one of them.  And suddenly you saw this blue sheet if flame flash back across the while stage area, until it reached the stack .... which went up with a huge "whump".  one of the coolest things I've ever seen! Flames higher then the very large trees.  I was about 40' away and it felt like it sucked the air out if my lungs while nearly knocking me over.

And our hero was mid stream pouring the second can of gas on the stack when it went up.

So he's now standing there looking like the coyote after his latest ACME rocket powered roller skates scheme went south, when someone acreams that the gas can, which he was still holding, was on fire!  And it was!  So he promptly thows the whole can into the woods, still on fire!  We were all expecting it to explode like a Hollywood car wreck, but it didn't.  Just burned out of the nozzle for a long time.

Unbelievably, there were no serious injuries.  Our hero had first degree burns over his whole front like a pretty bad sunburn, and was missing his eyebrows and some hair.  The guys inside the stage had the hair singed off their legs.

And for all that drama, the bonfire didn't even stay lit!  But the whole area still reaked of gas, so we had the "bonfire" somewhere else that night.
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