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There’s nothing in adulthood that feels quite like summer camp. No experience replicates the feeling of peace while sitting around a campfire singing songs about bugs. There is no other place where a group of kids from across the country can live together, sharing bunk beds and becoming fast friends. From the shared experiences to the long days spent outside—there’s so much about camp life we still long for!
The sun scorched and the mosquitos swarmed. Yet every afternoon’s jump in the lake, creek or pool felt like a new awakening. Never again in your life would you spend so much of your day outside—sweaty, dirty and carefree.
Ah, the “ice-breakers,” like passing a rubber band with straws held between campers’ teeth. Sustained eye contact? Faces drawing slowly together with the approaching possibility of poking your crush? Too much. What about having to walk as a group with legs attached to planks of wood? We’re not sure what real-life situation these activities were supposed to replicate, but it did teach us how to open up and laugh together.
Who would be your “date” to the last campfire? Would you hold hands or try to sneak off together just before lights-out? Camp love was as short-lived as a firefly’s glow, but it sparked like magic. But why couldn’t everyone end it as cleanly as Andy in the cult classic movie Wet Hot American Summer?
Sure, the burgers and hot dogs were sometimes dry. You still remember that one time the eggs were green. But oh, what you wouldn’t give for one more cup of that too-sweet “bug juice” fruit punch. And some more s’mores around the nightly campfire.
The glorious hour after lunch when you were forced to lay in your bunk and read, write a letter, or nap. Can we bring that back to workplaces across the world? Pretty please?
Everyone knew counselors were too old to be awesome, but Counselors In Training, or CITs were like the cool, older sisters or cute boyfriends we all wanted. They taught you how to French braid your hair or the right way to do a layup, and even though they were only five years older than you and also had lasagna stuck in their braces, you thought they were teenage royalty.
Making a “Dream-catcher” with sticks and yarn was your proudest achievement back then and it might still be and that’s okay. There was also that time your bunkmate gave you a friendship lanyard bracelet that matched hers and you knew you’d be besties for at least three more days. Craft hour was special, we only wish we had some more of it now.
Even if you had nothing in common outside of summer camp, you made lifelong friendships with new people. Tied to a specific place, memories of camp friends represent a remarkably fun part of your life. You might have forgotten to write, but you’ll never forget when you sang, canoed, laughed, swam, and cried together.
Whether camp was focused on sports, leadership, spirituality or health, everyone had to be there for a reason. And even if you couldn’t see it on the first day or the third, by the last day of camp you realized you’d all partaken in something meaningful.
Where did you go to camp? Was it sleepaway or day camp? And what do you miss most about camp life?