You Know You’re a Camp Kid When…

Posted on August 15, 2012


kids at campI’m a camp kid. I went to sleepover camp from the age of 7 until I was 19 years old. My girls now attend the same sleepover camp that I did as a kid. Every time I go up to camp for Visiting Day, I have a hard time leaving. And it isn’t just to spend more time with my girls. What I really want to do is grab my Kodiak boots, a can of bug spray, sit at a bonfire, toast marshmallows and sing songs until curfew. Every time I hear Joe Jackson, Yaz, CSNY, Genesis, or Lola by the Kinks, I can smell that camp smell — the bunks, the grass, the baby oil and the beach.

Most parents say they send their kids to camp to build self-confidence in a safe environment, to learn social skills and to make new friends. This may be true. But for me, the important lessons included how to scrub toilets, shave my legs, sweep floors, stern a canoe, make a top bunk bed, not to fear spiders or garter snakes, problem solving and patience.

For many of us, once you go to camp, it gets under your skin. It seeps into your blood and it’s something that never goes away. It’s like a secret club. One camp kid can always recognize the mark of another camp kid. The signs are hard to miss. Just start chanting “We are O-B. N-O. X-I-O-U-S.” Those that join in are camp kids for life.

For everyone else, you know you’re a camp kid when…..

  • You run into the house to get shampoo when it rains so you can shower outside
  • The sound of gravel will forever evoke the memory of walking down the path
  • You can still vividly hear the slam of the hinged bathroom door
  • The name Anson Minor still sends shivers down your back
  • Every song on the radio has different camp words and you still remember all of them
  • You still covertly observe the dining table to see who’s starting stack
  • You know why it’s important to fear the green light
  • You know what gimp and boondoggle are
  • You can beat anyone at jacks or spit
  • You often sleep with rubber boots on to keep away the green slime
  • When the hand is up – you shut up
  • You see a fire and begin chanting “Burn, Rope, Burn”
  • You have a lumber jacket hidden in your closet
  • You know how to play Newcomb ball, gaga ball and tether ball
  • You’re still trying to figure out if you’re OD or on OD
  • You still label all of your clothes
  • You have silent meals just for fun
  • On a hot day at work, you expect someone to yell “All day General Swim.”
  • You love bug juice
  • You host a weekly sing-down
  • You’ve been to Kangaroo court once or twice
  • You wear flip-flops in the shower
  • You catch yourself singing “We are the White team, the mighty, mighty White team” as you walk down the street

Camp gave me roots. It grounded me with a sense of community, extended family and taught me how to live and get along with others. Camp gave me wings. The self-confidence I gained from living on my own provided me with the means to move forward into the real world. Summer camp is a great way for all kids to take the necessary steps toward independence. They go away without their parents, they make new friends, they live in a different environment and they grow healthy and strong and resilient. The memories of camp and the lessons I learned are still with me today and will likely be with me forever.

What’s your favorite camp memory?

Posted in: camp