Friday, August 3, 2012

Not campy enough.

Hello, summer camp? This is Lori.
We need to talk.


I sent my seven-year-old to camp this week. He is having a blast, and that of course makes me very happy. But I gotta say, I am confused as to what the words “summer camp” mean in 2012, because it sure as hell means something different than it did back in 1970-something.

My son goes to camp for one week in a beautiful community center with a pool, pristine classrooms and it’s own café (!) from nine until noon with a break and a snack. This one week worth of camp cost me just under two-hundred-smackeroos.

Five days.
Nine until noon.

You call that camp?
I went to summer camp for the summer, like the whole summer.

My summer camp was held at Roosevelt Middle School in Ossining, New York and let me tell you, there was no fancy Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool or café available for me to take a dip or purchase a pre-camp scone and steamer. Oh no, no, no.

I think my butt got permanently flattened sitting on this playground, 1979.

My camp was held in the smelly cafeteria and extra-smelly gymnasium of the town middle school and it was AWESOME. I walked there from my house which was about a mile away, either with my friend Susie or by myself, no big whoop.

Here are things that we did at camp:

• Made elephant trunks out of paper towel tubes.

• Had parades where we traipsed through the town wearing our elephant trunks while making elephant noises.

• Made caterpillars out of egg boxes, paint, and pipe cleaners.

• Had movie nights where we watched rated-R scary movies at waaaay too young of an age.

• Made ashtrays for our parents out of clay.

• Dodgeball.

• Macaroni-art, macaroni-art, macaroni-art.

• Sang Bee Gee’s songs from Saturday Night Fever.

• Played on the giant, metal playground.

• Truth or Dare.

• Traded/flipped baseball cards.

• Snuck across the street and down the block to get a Slush Puppie at the deli.

• Threaded colored beads through our sneaker shoelaces to make a pretty pattern up by the toe.

• Used a microphone plugged into a shoebox-sized tape recorder to document what an awesome time we were having, giggling and falling over like a bunch of drunkards.

All of this was friggin’ awesome, a pre-teen girls dream!

Lunch was Goober Grape sandwiches, a room temperature carton of whole milk, and a popsicle that permanently stained your lip/chin area for the entire summer.

Seven cents off!
Sandwich in a jar!

It was delicious and again, awesome.

Basically we hung out at the school, with a few various planned activities thrown in, all with minimal adult supervision.

The summer ended with an overnight "lock in" where 100+ kids of ages ranging from around nine to thirteen had a big sleepover in the gym. Friends, movies, snacks, loud music, zero sleep...HEAVEN. I loked forward to/dreaded that night, knowing summer would soon be over.

Two words: LOCK IN.

Camp was a time to hang out with friends and just “be.” Even if that meant just sitting on your butt on the hard concrete playground, solving the worlds problems like, which Kissing Potion should I put on - watermelon or bubblegum? Or who was cuter, Scott Baio or Shaun Cassidy? (Scott Baio, duh.)

Last time I’ll say it – awesome.

I’m glad my son is having fun, and I know he will cherish his camp memories and tell his kids someday what summer camp was like way back in 2012, how different it was, and how much better it was back in his day.

But I kind of secretly wish that he was making crummy crafts, playing dodgeball, and eating Goober Grape in an old cafeteria.


  1. I love you for quoting the song from MEATBALLS, a movie that is in the AFI (Amanda Film Institute).

  2. Lol. I remember Goober grape jelly , dodge ball , watching Tommy (Queen) in the gym ....freaked me out at such a young age. Also do you remember " Mary sat on an egg"...haha?! Thanks for the memories. - Sue

    1. Sue, love it. Now that was camp - so fun and so simple. What was the queen thing in the gym? Do you remember watching a horror movie with a lady in a bathtub? Gods honor, I still think about that and get scared.