Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I heard the camp episode of This American Life when it first aired in 1998. Because of job search things (and personal issues with the so-called "leadership") I hadn't camp counselored the previous summer.

If you are a "camp person" you don't even need to listen. You already know everything they say (but you'll probably enjoy listening!) If you aren't a camp person, you'll probably be bored and say.

Direct links aren't possible, but if you go to the TAL website and do a search for "camp" it will come up. (Alternately, you could just look for Episode 109 in the 1998 archives).

I'm not Ira Glass - but I am a camp-person in need of a camp fix.
And so, I humbly present thoughts/memories in my own blog-version of "Notes on Camp"

Note 1: Homesickness
Yes, I admit it - as a camper, I was a homesick-o
Worse than that, I was the type who didn't talk about it
and wallowed in silent misery.

Once I got over the homesickness thing (not until High School) and became a counselor (durring college) camp became great fun! (Forget all that sap about being "all for the kids" in my mind, I agree with the person who said Camp is for Counselors!!)

Note 2: Songs
I love the part in the show where a girl says, "This is a very sing-y camp."
I'm a crummy singer.(My theory teacher use to joke that I had a range of a dimished minor second!)
But at camp I sang with reckless abandon.
It's easy to sing (even solo) at camp.

The great thing about camp songs is how tightly we cling to our version. There is no grace in camp songs and I've seen (participated) in lyric arguments which rival the intensity of serious academic/political debates.

(And for the record, The Princess Pat did not "live in a tree." The correct words are "light infantry." Also, it is "three chartreuse buzzards," not "three sharp toothed buzzards").

Note 3: Menstruation
Apologies to the guys who are already squirming, but one cannot truly reflect on camp without mentioning the poor girls who get their first period at camp. Most of the time health class (and moms) do their job, and the kid has enough information to understand what's happening. However, there's always one poor girl who somehow missed out on all that. And while you feel sorry for the poor kid (and which ever counselor is stuck explaining things) it makes for some really funny stories afterwards.

Note 4: Little Stories and Inside Jokes:
Yeah, off the top of my head . . .
There's the Ja-ja Game?
(And the resulting Ja-ja-java beatnik night!)
And Gulliver's note to the camp nurse,
The damn ducks,
And Clay's "ugly" scream

Note 5: Camp Sense of Clean
There's something about camp that alters one's sense of cleanness. "Camp clean" is a little different from "normal-person clean." (One of the things I most miss about camp in my real life is being able to wear mis-matched, less-than-clean, clothes without anyone even noticing/caring).

The other thing about "camp clean" is how amazing good "real clean" feels when you do take a shower and put on a clean t-shirt. Being clean feels so much better when you've been dirty for a week.

Note 6: Scarey Stories
Can't comment
I don't do scary stories. Never-Ever.
Not even at camp.
(Ask a tent-mate, they'll tell you I've covered my ears to avoid their ghost stories)

Note 7: Night
Night at camp is the coolest thing in the world.
Fireflies in the forest are amazing
You can see shooting stars
There are nice little fires
And sunsets
And the swamp smells pretty
And the frogs are singing
Camp is cool!