Summer Camp – Whose Bright Idea Was That?

Devoted Spouse and I were taking another walk down memory lane and somehow we arrived at the subject of summer camp. He fondly remembers Boy Scout Camp. I, on the other hand, vividly remember one of the worst experiences of my young life — a week at the summer camp armpit of America; a place in rural Pennsylvania called Camp Nawakwa. It is forever seared in my memory.

I was a pre-teen at the time; a chubby, awkward, unattractive girl who really didn’t do well in social situations. I was tomboyish, spent most of my time reading, could ride a bike well, was a roller skating dynamo, but couldn’t swim. I imagine my father and stepmonster thought summer camp would be good for me — meet some other kids, learn how to macrame, perhaps find someone patient enough to supervise me flailing around in a pool, and just have a thoroughly wonderful experience.

It was unbearably hot. We were in a drought. There was no flipping water in the swimming pool. The food was horrid. I cried. I cried alot. There were 10 girls to a cabin with one counselor. Our counselor was about 16 or 17 years old and I recall she was very nice. But she was also “grown up” and we all were jealous. She wore a bra for goodness sake; something we all could only dream of at that point in our miserable pre-pubescent lives. My one good experience was, believe it or not, macrame. Apparently I had a knack for it. I made all types of useless macrame lanyards.

Well, I feel better now that I finally vented that repressed memory. I may never truly recover from the sense of being left there all alone. I really thought for the longest time that I had done something bad and was being punished.

And the camp? I Googled it and it still exists. It’s a Lutheran (well that explains alot) camp and it’s been in existence since the 1920’s. I can still smell those musty cabins…

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4 thoughts on “Summer Camp – Whose Bright Idea Was That?

  1. I certainly enjoyed your meminiscences concerning your summer camp experience, but at the same time recall a troubling time when it became my job to drive a daughter, about seventeen, to a camp where, much against her will, she would be in charge of a cabin full of girls just about your age. She did not want the job and I resented having to force her into accepting the position. If I had had my way, she would have spent the last summer of her “childhood” and before entering college on a scholarship doing what she loved best: reading. Seems the kids liked her because, she, too, was nice. I must question her about her memories of what she remembers about the girls.

  2. Reading your post brought back a few of my own repressed memories of church camp. We had caves at our camp. I hated them, but they were the only place that was not a 100 in the shade, but they were damp as well. It was so hot!!! I hated feeling so sticky and just when you were refreshed from a shower, an activity was planned that would make you sweat. There was no pool or water hole of any sort and we would have been banned from it anyway.( Very strict upbringing)
    I loved it and hated it…I loved seeing friends that I only saw at camp and I hated that everything smelled like it lived in must and mildew…
    Thanks for the smile that your walk down memory road produced in me…I hadn’t thought of camp for years…don’t know if I would sent my grandkids to one…things are a lot different now.

  3. Hi Mary – Looking back I feel sorry for the counselor – this probably wasn’t her first choice, either. As a “camper” once was enough for me! *grins* Linda

  4. Hi shadowlands – The cave sounds interesting; although I probably would have been lost and never found. I think the worst aspect of camp was being forced to go. The same held true of Vacation Bible School – oh, the horrors of being forced into what was more a pre-teen day care than anything else. Ick. Hated it. I would never have forced my kids to attend either summer alternative. Hugs, Linda

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