summer camp has come up a lot these past few weeks. jason, nate and i talked about it at the subterfuge writer's group (get it? we write under the guise of our puny day jobs.) summer camp has also been mentioned at my work since that's what you do with your kids in the summer - ship them off.
when i was 12 and 13, i went to girl scout camp two summers in a row for a week each time. the first time i went, me and my friends cried the entire week. naturally, we could not wait to sign up for the next summer! the camp was called "camp near wildnerness" and i'll let you in on a little secret - it wasn't exactly "near wilderness" so much as SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE WITH LEAN-TOS AND PIT LATRINES AND 17-YEAR OLD GIRLS IN CHARGE.
the word latrine still makes me shudder. those things were so nasty. one summer a girl dropped her flashlight down the pit illuminating YEARS of bathroom business. oy. luckily, that was also the summer that dawn's mom packed a "stick 'em" air freshner for us to put in the latrine. the idea was that you would open the door, put your nose as close as possible to the air freshener, take the biggest whiff of "sunshine freshness" that you could, and hold your breath while doing your bidness. it truly worked. if i was there now i would rig up some sort of device that would spray a continual mist of lysol on me. i don't even want to THINK about the germs.
we also had mosquito nets that we had to repair at the end of the week since we would inevitably poke bigger holes in them then were already there. our lean-to was a platform of wooden planks about three inches off the ground with canvas stretched over a skeletal frame. the ends could be tied open. one day i came back to the tent and found muddy animal paw tracks on my sleeping bag. one night dawn couldn't bear the walk to the latrine so she just peed between the slates. summer camp was all about survival.
the counselors would make us take polar bear swims at 6 am - this was upstate new york and the water was probably 50 degrees - at the time i thought it was sooooo cold. we'd also have to jump in at least once during the week with jeans and sweatshirts on to prove we could remove our clothes quickly and not drown.
we also could only shower once a week. we showered on the day before our parents came to pick us up. how convenient. meanwhile, we just spent the entire week tacky with sweat, bug spray, horse fly bites and lake water. baseball caps were requisite camp gear. the horse flies would just attack you if you weren't wearing a hat. it was disgusting. i have a fuzzy, old picture of me and my camp buddies and my friend dawn has this hat on that is a stuffed animal head of a beaver - it's so great. plus, i'm wearing shorts with knee socks - a classic look if ever there was one.
ahh - the days of summer. i wish someone was shipping me off to summer camp this year. hum.