i can't remember if i ever wrote about summer camp before. if i have, just look away...
growing up, i was into girl scouts in a big way. the years when i was 12 and 13 and i sold girl scout cookies there were incentives such as being able to attend girl scout camp in the summer for a discounted rate or for free or something. you had to sell like 10 million cookies and me and a few of my friends did sell a million gajillion boxes and we got to head to camp near wilderness for a week two years in a row. it didn't matter that the first year we all cried and said we'd never go back. apparently, we had selective amnesia when cookie time hit again because there we were hawking thin mints and do-si-dos outside P&C so we could go to summer camp again.
make no mistake, camp near wildnerness was IN the wilderness. we slept in lean-tos (for those not in the know, a lean-to is a wooden pallet over which is draped a canvas tent), we used pit latrines, we slept with mosquito netting over our cots. we were forced to take polar bear swims at 6am in a lake in upstate new york which meant it probably stayed an icy 59 degrees in summer. we were only allowed to take a shower once that week, most likely the day before we went home. the horse flies were aptly named - they were as big as horses and left welts all over our arms. the first year i had forgotten to pack a hat and i felt like a swarm followed me wherever i went.
we thought our camp counselors were so old and so cool. they were probably all of 17 or 18. the second year i had a counselor from england and she taught us songs like "god save the queen" and the australian "kookaburra" song which i can still sing to this day. once this girl in my group was talking out of turn and she had to sing "god save the queen" all by herself. it was a rousing rendition.
i'd like to think that now at camp near wilderness that they have real working toilets but i also secretly enjoy the thought of privilaged white city girls having to use a latrine. dig a hole, set a small wooden shed over the hole, slap a toilet seat in there and call it a terlet. they were the most disgusting things ever. the group of three outhouses was set away from the tents because the stench was so bad. curiousity always got the better of you and you ended up shining your flashlight down the hatch and you spent the rest of the week wishing you hadn't. the first year someone lost their flashlight down the latrine and until the batteries ran out, everytime you used that particular toilet after dusk your ass would be lit up like rockefeller center at christmas time. one night, one of my tent-mates had to use the bathroom at like 3 am and no one from our four person tent would go with her because a) it's scary in the woods at night and b) it stunk so badly near the toilets that it wasn't worth the extra trip even for moral support, so she peed between the opening of the wooden pallet our lean-to was on. the second year i was at camp someone got the bright idea of bringing some of those stick 'em air fresheners and stuck one on each of the doors to the outhouses. the key was to take a huge whiff of the deoderizer and then hold your breath while using the can. it was a much more pleasent experience.
finally, a week would be up and we'd be sooo happy to be getting the hell back to civlization. we'd pack up all our arts and crafts and all the letters we got from our families. we were made to sew any holes in our mosquito netting which is exactly the effort in futility that it sounds. we hugged good-bye to our new friends, most of whom we'd never see again and when we gathered around the flag pole and spotted our parents' cars we ran like we'd never ran before to greet them and not a sticky s'more or all the air fresheners in the world would lure us back for a third year.