A large part of your 20s is reminiscing about the younger years. I recently caught up with some camp friends, and if you’ve ever gone to sleepaway camp, you understand the importance of those formative summer months spent sleeping in shacks in the middle of the woods singing Alanis Morissette and eating white bread with sliced turkey.
That famous and erroneous quote holds that ‘everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten.’ Bullsh*t! My kindergarten taught me nothing compared to my years in upstate New York.
Here is the list of 13 goods I packed away at Sleepaway Summer Camp
that I carried with me into my 20s:
1. How to French Kiss — my counselor one summer decided us ladies were old and desperate enough to learn how to properly kiss a boy. We were 9. She told us that the trick is to spell your name out on that sucker’s tongue. That summer I spelled my name out every night, into my hand, arm, and pillow. Today, I’m told I’m a pretty damn fine kisser. Thanks Libby.
2. How to poop anywhere — I spent one summer sleeping in the middle of the woods, in “tents” that my fellow campmates made out of wood and tarp. When you need to go, and all you have is wide-open woods, toilet paper — or leaves, and desire, you make sh*t happens. Nowadays, I utilize my carefree bowel-movement skills when my friends and family have to “hold it until we get home.” Suckers.
3. How to pack — when you’re only allotted one large suitcase for an entire summer session, you learn to make lists, pack accordingly, and label everything so the younger kids don’t steal all your sh*t. Easily one of the best skills I have to date — I traveled all of Europe without having to check in a bag or pay extra luggage fees.
4. How to ditch swimming — because that hatred for putting on a suit, getting wet, having to shower, do your hair, expose your cellulite, and shave your legs never ceases. I’d rather chill out, ya know? I feel the same way come Spring and all its pool parties, and I conveniently leave my suit at home every single time.
5. How to steal dance moves from that older chick that knows how to grind — how? Step one, idle around the back and watch, watch real closely. Step two, find your best girlfriend and practice, whilst stealing glances at said “older chick with awesome moves.” After a few more summer sessions, you’ll be twerking like a pro. (And with the evolution of dance, so many new moves, and way sexier dancers, I am still the queen of the peep and steal. I recycle other ladies’ moves all the time, and switch them up as freely as I desire).
6. How to get out of doing bitch- work — my camp, just like any other, had various forms of cult-like culture. One was the morning cleaning duties, where every age group would take turns doing things like “cleaning the bathrooms” or “washing the floors of the mess hall” or “insert cleaning crew role here that my parents paid for me to go all the way to upstate New York to do.” I would suddenly have a “hangnail” or an “upset stomach” or an “allergy to birch pollen” or I’d just stand in the back and let the eager beavers get to the disgusting task first. Today, I do the very same thing, no matter what job I temporarily have — let the brown-nosers excel, and when all else fails, fake a major illness. (see blog for HOW TO CALL IN SICK)
7. How to know every Dave Matthews Band song and/or RENT lyric — I can hear the first three notes of over a hundred 90s songs and I’m thrown right back onto the green-ish yellow grass of Camp. I love utilizing that lyric-memory-recall today — makes me feel super cool when I know every TLC lyric, including the rap part.
8. How to wake up early — camp nights were long, and mornings early — when you’re bunking with 10 other girls, there’s bound to be chatting, gossiping, and late-night pranking. And then a strict morning wake-up call, because the head of the camp — aka a mature 19 year-old elected to run sh*t that summer — needs to keep things flowing according to task. The ability to drag myself out of bed no matter what it takes is very useful today — with late-night heavy boozing sessions, followed by early AM calls by the Man.
9. How to use very very little water — camp showers suck, they get super cold very fast, so learning to soap, shampoo, condition, rise and boogie is important. Thankfully my water bill is equally grateful today.
10. How to pretend to not be jealous when your best friends steals your crush — camp didn’t afford me just one best friend, I had handfuls. And so when each of them declared a crush, kissed him, dated him, and eventually married him….I learned to sit myself down, and create alternate realities in which I was a superstar and had all the other leftover men in the world bowing at my feet. Today, I know what to do to escape rejection, clearly.
11. How to have a long distance relationship– when you’re 10 and your best friend lives in a different state, you develop very good phone and letter writing skills since you hardly see each other but need to know everything in time for the next summer session. Today, my seriously solid texting and social media geotagging skills allow me to keep my family and friends (who are 3,000+ miles away) in the know about everything I eat, see, and wear.
12. How to separate friendship circles — Camp friends develop the greatest inside jokes! Ones that never quite translate to “home friends.” Because I lived a double life as a child, I am skilled at catering to each of my various friendship-groups today, so that each one believes I love them most.
13. How to build friendships and community — Camp taught me how to become a chameleon, to learn that other personalities and preferences exist outside my own, to admire the hot girls, and learn from the super nerds, to embrace my personal sense of style and wit, and to play games like “Capitalist pig” where we’d pass around a chocolate bar and everyone would take a bite, the last person to bite was the capitalist pig. I learned to be a team player, a community-minded leader, and allergic to chocolate.
What camp stories do YOU have? Please share below in the COMMENTS, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!