Why.

I have indifferent memories of summer camp. The experiences were so strange to me, because it never seemed like I could hear or understand what anyone was saying. It was never an event I looked forward to; it just kind of happened to me and I had to survive so I could get home. I’d have a bag in my lap, my mom would tell me to get on a bus and that would be that.

Somehow I managed to get through a weekend without ever checking in, anywhere. Counselors showed us to our little cabins, where we made Indian hats. I remember everyone’s eyes on mine, as they copied the designs I was coloring on it. Then…I don’t know what happened, but I never had an activity sheet. Rather than admit I was kind of lost, I just started walking around.

I walked in on whatever activity group I came upon, whether it was basket weaving or a bunch of silly songs, and sat down. One group walked out to a shooting range and I got to fire a gun at balloons (bet I hadn’t been signed up for THAT one). Another ensemble ended up in a field where we paired off and took turns creeping up on each other, yards away, by removing our shoes and walking toe-heel, which I found interesting. The entire time, I marveled at how easy it was to stroll right by the people in charge if you didn’t act lost. When a certain siren rang, I went and got a lunch tray… I went swimming a lot (I bet, more than was allowed), and went back to the cabin when it got dark out.

One of the only times I ever talked to anyone was because I was trying to fall asleep. Having gotten the top bunk, my group left the door open all night (I think all of the kids were visiting each other’s cabins) and a million mosquitoes had collected on the ceiling, just above my head. I asked the girl staying with us if she would help me kill some of them, and I remember her looking very upset… I still went to sleep staring at mosquitoes, and got bit an awful lot.

For the last day, the counselors were supposed to award each camper with a unique certificate that specified some kind of strength or characteristic. My name was called and I accepted a paper that said “Most Paranoid”. It hurt my feelings to be made fun of, and I folded it into quarters and threw it away before my mom could see it.

Another camp was 4-H related, on the campus of Michigan State University. I followed numbers on my wrist and appropriate signs to where I was supposed to be, that time. I think I toured a news station and took some kind of music class. As it got dark, a lot of the people seemed to get together and go somewhere outside, but I didn’t know anyone. Instead, I would be exhausted and elated to have managed the day, and found my way back to the room where I climbed up onto the ledge and looked down on all the people and lights. My clearest memory is being in the dark, against the window.

One more weird set of memories must be from a day camp. Long walks in the woods to bring back water for the fire, and strange nature lessons in a pavilion. We set up a tent… we put stones around a fire pit. Went home at the end of the day, so I could get up early and do it all over again.

I was always half at attention, and half in a daydream. Lost in the woods, lost in my mind, I guess.

Okay. “Indifferent” was a poor word.

I fucking hated every day of that shit.

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17 responses to “Why.

  1. thats too bad. i actually had fun. it was always over the forth of july and we would have bottle rocket and roman candle fights. in the woods after dark sneaking up for an attack… it was pretty cool… reminds me of the scene in Apocolypse Now where Martin Sheen was on the front lines… oh well. that made it worth it.

    • Cool.

      The lake had a big thing you could climb up and jump from… I got up there okay, but freaked out at the top. It took me a long time to run off it. :)

      And another night, they shot fireworks off it. That was awesome.

  2. My mom usta send me to those things.. I didnt ask for it, I didnt want it. but she wasted no time in helping me pack… at the time I thought it was pretty crule. But I guess they wanted a vacation.. wether I wanted it or not hehe.

  3. That’s the same way i signed up for classes the last couple of years I was in college. I’d show up for the first day of the class and talk to the professor at the end of it to get added to the roll. Church camp was better for me though, because other than the church part, it was a lot of fun.

  4. I identified with what you wrote about looking out at the other campers gathered at night. I always felt, at camp, like I was only taking part in the ‘surface’ of camp, and missing out on the real camp experience. Like I missed all the sex, drugs, gossip, drama, humiliation, all the guts of camp. And high school too; same thign. Those moments of aware exclusion were my strongest memories too. Now, I dont know how to feel about them. Because it’s past, yet unresolved; and unABLE to be resolved…

    I think you gave me your mood…
    that’s some successful writing, damn you.

    • Heh.

      I felt so much younger than everyone else. I usually was. And I have memories of listening in on people talking and I’d think, “god, that girl is stupid and annoying.”

  5. Honestly; do you write these posts mostly to practice your writing, technically? Or does it feel good to share a personal story and get feedback? Because the writing is good, but I like the human behind it better. :|

  6. I know it’s a kids’ book, but have you ever read “I Want To Go Home!” by Gordon Korman? It’s about a kid whose school guidance department sends him to summer camp, and since he’d rather be anywhere but there, he makes life a living hell for everyone. I think you’d find it quite enjoyable. It is rather funny. :)

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