11 Jul

10963I never went to sleep-away camp. This is why I was a late bloomer. Or it least I tell myself that my slow foray into being felt-up had nothing to do with my chub, braces, or forehead acne and everything to do with the fact that I had no wooden bunks to make out behind.

I spent my summers reading advanced YA fiction – mostly the ones with hot summer affairs (in retrospect, the sizzlemeter was probably defined by number of moonlit glances per chapter). I went to a few day camps – one for theater, one for horseback riding and one put on by my school district to get the poor kids out of the house for a few hours each day. I did a lot with lanyard.

As an only child to a single mom, I was a total homebody. Every June I’d help my pals write their names in the labels of their t-shirts, pick up a packet of stationary and stickers from the card store, exchange friendship bracelets, and promise to write. All of the organized activity and time spent in wet bathing suits never appealed to me about sleep-away camp. I was content to water color my walls and take extended trips to the nearby duck pond.

I’d receive letters every week from my BFF’s signed KITKAT (that’s “Kall Any Time, Keep In Touch,” Kardashian-style) and even some notes from my bored acquaintances who couldn’t bother with real narration – just the lazy form-letters alerting me that “Camp is…!” “The food is….yummy!” “The boys are…pre-pubescent!” I seldom wrote back to those, or if I did, I certainly didn’t include my best oily stickers.

I loved receiving notice of my inner-gaggle’s transient crushes.The letters read better than any chick-lit. Like the Austen-ian Summer of ’97 when both Rebecca and Rachel had been canoodling with Matt Schwartz at theater camp. Neither knew of the other’s dalliances but as the omnipotent reader, I got to watch both plot-lines unfold. Rebecca was tired of Rachel being such a flirt. Rachel was annoyed that Rebecca got all the boys. Matt was basking in being the lone “straight” guy at queer camp. He’d come out the following summer after starting a romance with a boy who played “Brother” to his “Joseph.” Rachel and Rebecca claimed they knew it all along but I have it in writing that their hormones got the better of them.

While my comrades got their first kisses, I started a book club with my fellow underdeveloped friend. We were the only two members. Our interests included A Wrinkle in Time because of the boy-girl story, going to water parks and playing Mall Madness.

I didn’t need camp to feel like an autonomous adult. My mother let me go to the aquarium whenever I pleased.  And once college came around, I got the full taste of what it would have been like, but with less damp towels. And as for the boys, I’m glad I didn’t live out my  tweens sharing awkward moments on bunk beds. There’d be plenty of time for that later.


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