Is there an official start date for one’s second childhood? I don’t mean the one that accompanies the onset of dotage, but a time of life when you no longer feel silly about releasing your inner pre-adolescent? I urgently need to know, because it’s already June and I’m thinking about enrolling in summer camp.
I never went to summer camp, and I’m tired of being left out! “Left out of what?” you might ask. Left out of all the screeching and squealing that occurs when we are out to dinner with friends, and three out of four (that’s me who’s excluded) discover that they all went to Camp Gitche Gumee or Maka Laka or some other fictitious Native American tribe.
Then they start reminiscing about the lake, and the counselors, and visiting day, and the food, and how they learned to water ski. All that nostalgia about Color War and gathering around the camp fire. If I’m really lucky, I’m treated to a chorus of the good old camp song.
And I’m left sitting there, wondering if anyone wants to hear about how I spent my childhood summers under the sprinkler at my inner city neighborhood playground. Probably not.
Not going to camp is one of my biggest childhood regrets. Bigger than not going to Woodstock and getting all muddy and high. Bigger than not buying last year’s Prada handbag at half-off half-off from Neiman Marcus’ Last Call outlet store.
I almost went to camp one summer. I think it was Girl Scout camp, in fact.
Yes, I was a Girl Scout. I learned how to tie knots and properly fold napkins for a dinner party. (Who gave dinner parties when you were ten years old? Who gave dinner parties in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, at any age?)
I forget why I ultimately decided not to go. But had I known then that my decision at that tender age would condemn me to outlier status as an adult, I definitely would have packed my trunk.
But alas, I am no longer a girl, and I can’t go back. I’m resigned to the fact that Color War was just not in my deck of cards.
But that doesn’t stop me from contemplating what a camp experience might be like at this point in time.
First of all, I would definitely need a lower bunk. The reasons for this should be obvious to anyone old enough to have second thoughts about changing a light bulb in an overhead fixture. And who sleeps through the night anymore?
Speaking of bladders, I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but there would have to be cabins where the toilets are en suite. The thought of trudging to an outhouse at 2:00 AM is about as appealing as a luke-warm cup of instant coffee.
Then there’s all that sharing. Sharing sleeping space, sharing a bathroom, sharing a shower. The potential of seven other females seeing you naked.
I hope it won’t turn out to be one of the camps where they drop you in the woods with two rocks and a toothpick and you have to make your own way back. I think the most rigorous survival experience I could handle at this point would be having to leave half of my skin care products at home.
Seriously, who among us could possibly endure eight weeks without face creams, body lotions, hair dryers, gels, mousses? To say nothing of missing our appointment at the beauty salon for a trim, blow dry, and at least one process?
I think I would be game for all the activities. Activities are fine. In moderation. With frequent rest periods. Followed by a relaxing massage. And regarding those early morning swims, I would ask to forego the dip in the heart-stopping frigid lake in favor of a pool heated to just below body temperature.
Tell me honestly, you verterans, what’s camp food really like? Will they have half-and-half for my mid-morning iced beverage? And will they provide Splenda or do I have to bring my own?
Funny, this entire concept is starting to sound less and less compelling. Reconsidering my current requirements, I have confirmed how foolish it is to contemplate a later-in-life camp experience.
But while one door closes, another door opens. The Golden Door that is. Clearly my time would be much better spent at a spa!
Trust me Susan, you have missed nothing by not attending summer camp. I went and i know from whence I speak. If you are 11, 12 or 13 when attending, you mostly experience deep insecurity about your physical development (comparing yourself to other, better endowed girls). You secretly develop a crush on the bad-boy of the camp who is drop-deal gorgeous and totally anti-social, leaving you feeling rejected and unworthy. You also spend a lot of your time hoping that and being thankful you are not the object of the tough, bullying girl in your bunk that everyone is afraid of. I could go on, but I’m sure by now you are less regretful that you have developed into a terrific adult, in spite of having missed the “summer camp” experience.
Thanks for the info. Watch for the next blog. It will be a retraction!
Not going to camp is something like never staying at the Grand Hotel Kampinski when you are in Europe. You know the hotel is really going to be fun, but you will never get to spend a night there. However, when I married your good friend 51 years ago, I took her on a camping trip across the country. She always told me she really enjoyed camping, but that was early in the marriage. Later we bought a trailer and pulled across the county for 20 years or so. That was camping in luxury and I know she really liked it because she always looked forward to the end of June and to get back on the road.
As far as never going to camp, blame your parents for that. You would have really enjoyed it. Now people will tell you its too late—–its not! Living in a house in the Berkshires is kind of like camping.