Packing my bags for summer camp.

You guys remember The Parent Trap? I watched The Parent Trap approximately nine billion times when I was a kid. Both the original one starring Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills and the reboot starring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan, as separated identical twins who meet at a summer camp and conspire to reunite their estranged parents. And while all of it stands the test of time, the first third of each film is the best part, because it takes place at the world’s coolest summer camp. I mean… summer camp! It looked so amazing! Weird traditions and bonfires and petty rivalries and cabins and bunkmates and sleeping bags and counselors. There are panty raids and capture the flag and inside jokes about dining hall food!

It always felt so exotic to me because I never did any of that stuff when I was young. Summers were for hanging out at the library and for fighting with your little brother over the best business model for the driveway lemonade stand. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I loved summers as a kid – but the truth is that you can’t do anything terribly exotic when you’re in a small town and anyplace you want to go, you need your mom to give you a lift.

But I would watch The Parent Trap and try to imagine myself in a summer camp alternate universe – a place where I would make lifelong friends and yell songs with made-up lyrics and where, in this fictional delusion, I would be vastly cooler than the dorkosaurus that I so clearly actually was.

What’s funny about remembering all of this now is that I am sure my mom asked if I wanted to go. I remember her putting that option on the table, asking if I had any interest whatsoever in going away for the summer. And I always said no. Truth be told, I think I was afraid. My ten-year-old brain had latched onto one of those unfortunate truths, and one that I’m still working on actively correcting: it feels way safer to exist in the fantasy version of the world than the real one.

It’s been like twenty years since anyone asked me if I wanted to go to summer camp, and frankly, I kind of figured that ship had sailed.

That is, until my friend Ben asked me if I wanted to go to camp with him.

bencamp

Here’s some stuff about Ben. He’s one of those dudes that I don’t know all that well, but he always manages to lift my spirits whenever I run into him. He can be deeply thoughtful and he can be stubbornly obstinate and he can be very funny, but in a really specific and weird sorta way that isn’t immediately clear at first. I find him really endearing. He gives really great hugs. He geeks out about movie trivia. He’s about to be a really great dad. He thinks before he speaks.

When Ben told me that he worked as a counselor at a summer camp for years, everything about him made way more sense to me.

And when Ben told me that he was opening a “summer camp for adults,” and that he wanted me to come so that I could write about it, I smiled the biggest doofiest grin of all time and accepted on the spot.

Moments later, a crushing wave of fourth-grade panic enveloped me. I clicked on their website and felt alternately exhilarated and nauseous.

“We’ve got a lake, fun-loving counselors, capture the flag, canoeing, sweet cabin living, archery, zip-line, and the camp magic that makes a long weekend feel like a lifetime.”

I am ashamed to admit that I read that sentence and felt pure terror. Like the kid trapped at the end of the diving board, afraid to just take the plunge. What if my bathing suit is dumb and I get a bad sunburn and I don’t have any friends? I will fall off the zipline and break a leg and I will shoot an arrow into my foot or even worse, someone else’s foot. And I will probably hate the food and I have to share a cabin with a complete stranger and I like you a lot, Ben, but I just don’t know I just don’t know I just don’t know.

And then I got over myself and realized that I had been handed a crazy and special opportunity. To get to go back and try again – to do all of the stuff that had scared me as a kid – that is an amazing gift.

And I said yes. And so I’ll be going. To a summer camp in the Poconos for a long weekend of yoga and hammocks and bonfires and sleeping bags. With strangers. It’s nothing I would normally ever do for myself. It’s out of my comfort zone. I’m basically still that kid who feels safer at home reading books about summer camp than actually going out and trying any of that stuff for myself.

And yet I’m going. Sleeping bag and all.

I’m gonna learn so many dumb songs by that campfire, you guys. 🙂

PS: If you want the details:

Camp Bonfire
http://www.campbonfire.com

If you want to go too, Ben just emailed to say that he can hook my readers up with a discount. $100 off the price.

It’s: imbeggingmymotherforsummercamp

(Wokka, wokka. I love this. One of you please come with me so that I can say that someone typed in that absurd code).

xoxxo

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19 thoughts on “Packing my bags for summer camp.

  1. I totally wish I could come, for me though it would mean: finding a sitter for the kids, finding $$ to fly down, cab fare, and much much more… 😦 maybe next year?

  2. Like you, I didn’t go to camp when I was younger. Knowing what I know now, it would probably have been a huge impetus for some major anxiety. I had a hard time going to friends’ houses for sleepovers. I think this camp sounds like the safest coolest fun place to be for that weekend…you are going to have a blast. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  3. I LOVED summer camp. Starting fires with pine needles and the magnifying glasses we bought at the camp store. Cuddling in sleeping bags out by the fire. (It was co-ed.) Sleeping out by the haunted house and scaring ourselves witless with ghost stories.

  4. It sounds like fun indeed! But … nope, too fat, too dorky, too not-good-with-people, too convinced the zip line would break, too too too.

    Maybe next year when I’m a different person. But I look forward to reading all about it!

  5. This sounds so cool. That ship has sailed for me though since I have a family. I am now looking for more of like a “Dirty Dancing” family camp situation. I really want my daughter to meet the 5 year old version of patrick swayze and fall madly deeply in love while I play card games and whatever else the parents do at family camps. Parent Trap is such a fine movie, both versions, and frankly it’s how I like to think of Lindsay Lohan….

  6. The Parent trap was hands down one of my favourite childhood films as well. I would transform my living room into an entire camping grounds with outdoor activities, cabins and a lake (the couch) and reenact prank scenes with my brother ^_^

    Hope you have an amazing time at Ben’s camp and I’m looking forward to reading more about it 🙂

  7. This is such a great biz. idea and sounds like a blast. Based on experience, if you DO get homesick, just go see the nurse. She’s really nice and will push you a little bit. By the end of the weekend, you’ll be making those memories that last a lifetime. I highly recommend Spin the Bottle. Have fun!

  8. Aaaaaand of course it’s the weekend that my friend is getting married. Would it be okay if I post about the summer camp on my own bloggedy blog though? It sounds suuuuuper cool and maybe if I rant about that enough it’ll kiiiinda be like I went. :p

  9. I’m going. My friend is going to be a counselor so I signed up. It will be a great weekend adventure. If you get a sunburn or shoot someone with an arrow – don’t worry, I’m a nurse practitioner 🙂

  10. I’ve always loved the idea of camping since I was little and as it happened to you, I was deeply, truly in love with that movie. The best part was the fact that I did look like Lindsay Lohan so I felt kind of enthusiastic about it ! Unfortunately I’m from Italy and we don’t have many places where to camp. My suggestion for you is to live those moments you’ll experience. I will do the same in september as I’m going to have a backpack journey to Santiago de Campostela in Spain . It’ll be a whole month walking from the Pirenees mountains ’till Santiago and though I know that it’ll be very hard, I can’t wait to do it !
    Have a great camping experience ! I wish you the best 😀

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