It’s the first day of camp around these parts and there is zero nostalgia on my part. In fact, there is a little bit of mild trauma response when I scroll past Facebook photos of kids in wooden cabins or getting on the camp bus. I have to believe that these kids are happy; I mean, they look happy. There must be kids who enjoy gathering together on damp, dewy railroad ties set in a haphazard semi-circle and raising the flag and singing the camp song before setting out on what feels like 65 hours of forced kickball on a blazing, shadeless field. Kids like this, right? Some of them?


Far right, red swimsuit. 1984. If that’s not a face that says, “thanks, but no,” I’m not sure what is.

There are kids who enjoy mandatory morning swim lessons when the temperature hasn’t even kicked up past 70 yet and then changing out of wet swimsuits, locker-room style in a dusty, mosquito-ridden cabin. And there are kids who like peeling a wet ice pack off a flattened pbj at a picnic table while their still-damp feet dangle into piles of pine needles riddled with ants. Right?

If you know me at all, it will not surprise you to find out that camp is not my bag. It will not surprise you to find out that I regularly intentionally “missed” the camp bus and hoped that my mother would just let me stay home instead of throwing me in the car and chasing down the bus to meet it a few stops ahead. It will not surprise you to find out that I stubbornly flat-out refused to swim in the lake, get into a canoe, or pee in a hole in the ground. And even when we switched to a less “rustic” camp with a much better arts and crafts shack, I was not a fan.


Striped shirt, middle. Please don’t let the smile fool you.

It may surprise you, however, to find out that long after I was sprung from camp prison, long after I was an adult with free will, long after I swore that I’d never set foot in another camp, I chose to work at one. And not just one camp. Two. And not just one summer, but two summers. (And I might have chosen to do it longer if I wasn’t basically fired because, oh, hey, I suck at camp — remember?)

It’s possible that The Who would love camp. I say it’s possible because he has never actually gone to a “real” one — not like the ones I went to. He has gone to and continues to go to things called camp, but let’s be honest: playing basketball inside an air conditioned gym at the local high school and eating delivery pizza for lunch is not exactly camp. He will go to various iterations of this same type of camp during the rest of the weeks of the summer, but at no point will he attend a place that encourages making God’s Eyes or gimp keychains on a splintery picnic bench.

I just don’t think I could subject him to that.

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