Every summer, many of my Gen X cohorts and I were carted off in droves to sleepaway camps across the country. We packed our hard-sided trunks and headed off for two to eight weeks of rewording pop songs, crushing on counselors with accents, and dressing up as Bon Jovi and Madonna. This summer, in an unexpected twist of events, I'm going to back to camp, with my kids.
Let me restate that so that you can process it. My kids are going 1,300 miles away to Camp Lenox in Massachusetts, and I'm freakin' following them. Why? Because something is so very wrong with me... and so I can write a summer series as an overprotective mom who keeps her distance while trying to see if she has anything to be nervous about and if her kids, her marriage and her sanity can withstand a crazy summer.
Sooo, while thinking about how I'll survive camp the second time around (as an adult who likes morning lattes and pillow top beds with box springs... and roads), I started to reminisce about what it was like the first time around.
Here it is: Hey Gen Xer, you were probably a camper if...
1. Shaving your legs was a group activity. I'm talkin' on the steps or porch of your bunk with a bucket of cold water (it didn't stay hot long), a can of shaving cream and four or five other girls you shared said bucket with *gags* (maybe this is also true for women's prison -- haven't been there yet, so I can't say).
2. You can finish most of these songs: Oh I went to a donut shop to get... Everywhere we go-oh people wanna know-oh... John Jacob Jingle... Hello Muddah, hello...
3. You understand the utter and complete joy of receiving a care package. I mean, equal to winning the lottery kinda joy. And hoped-for booty like: Easy Cheese, Pop Rocks, Ring Pops, Dweebs (Nerds' cousins), Whistle Pops, Wax Bottles, Dots... and the mother lode -- dry packets of Kool-Aid, Jello or Fun Dip.
4. You went to bed freaked out by some guy named Cropsy or whoever haunted Cabin 13 or something that lives in the lake and steals little kids... which a grown-up told you about around a campfire (with the sole purpose of scaring the crap out of you).
5. Most of your summer jewelry was made of gimp or lanyard.
6. You truly comprehend that having Canteen Credit is the equivalent of having cigarettes in prison.
7. You know the other meaning of canteen, and you actually had one. Not some BPA-free suction release Camelback, I mean a hard rounded metal container with a cap and a strap.
8. You blew out fuses every Saturday night before socials drying your hair with your Conair Yellow Bird, or using your trusty diffuser for your perm or awesome Windmere crimping iron that only singed your hair a tiny bit, so it was worth it.
9. You can't recall the smell of the singed hair, but would recognize the aroma of your go-to hair spray (feather finisher, perm scruncher or bang freezer), i.e. Aussie Sprunch Spray, Paul Mitchell Freeze & Shine or Sebastian Shpritz Forte' or good ol' Aqua-Net.
10. Dizzy izzies, suck and blow, the Pepsi challenge, jacks tournaments, an obstacle course and rope burn were a given every summer.
11. You have a clear understanding of the four food groups: cereal, Popsicles, bug juice and s'mores.
12. You ever watched underwear run up a flagpole and prayed they weren't yours.
13. You know the tune and words to Reveille and Taps, yet you were never in the service.
14. To this day, the song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" makes you cry.
15. You were initiated into some cult-like group around a fire with chanting and maybe Indian terms or fake names... and you were not at Waco.
16. People asked what you wanted to be when you grew up and you didn't say president, you said "color war captain."
17. Your mom had tons of those tiny woven pot holders that were too small (and frankly too hole-y) to ever actually hold a pot.
18. You tried to never touch the bottom of the lake because you were pretty certain there were things down there that could eat you. The bonfire stories and your recent Jaws viewing did not help.
19. You traveled with a hard-sided trunk that could fit a body. And you knew this because you had to see if you could fit in it before you let your mom pack your stuff.
20. Said stuff you packed included: flip-up collar Izods/polo shirts, pleated shorts, striped rugbys, overalls, denim skirts/shorts that were acid washed, stone washed, or shredded and jeans that had to be pegged and tapered to sit atop your scrunchie EG socks and awesome velcro high tops.
21. Picking out stationery to take to camp was an actual event. I'm lookin' at you, Snoopy, Hello Kitty and Precious Moments...
22. All your letters on said awesome stationery ended with K.I.T. and they were S.W.A.K. and didn't involve a single lol, ttyl or lmao.
23. You mastered the two-minute cold shower with your Caboodles caddy in tow.
24. Your camp mixes trumped any "Best Of" album and they had at least one song from these artists: The Bangles, Depeche Mode, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Foreigner, James Taylor...
25. You felt your rendition of "Like a Virgin" and Madonna's were identical except for the lion. Also, your version went "Like a Bass Weejun, worn for the very first time," and you were flat-chested with braces. But they were close.
26. Finally... You cried for days upon re-entry to society as if you could not function without someone addressing you each morning at a flagpole.
How many of those made you nostalgic? What do you remember most? Please share with all your camp friends and read the note below!
I think I may have to back out of this summer gig. I jump when I see a spider... I'm screwed. However, you're not... you can follow #JennyFromTheBunk - I Followed My Kids To Camp, Now What? on FACEBOOK
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