fiction

Camp Domestic

guitar fingersAs summer draws to a close, I hark (who uses that anymore?) back to fond and /or nightmarish memories of my first sleep-away camp experience. It was a two-week stay at some Boys Club facility that had a lake or a river (I really can’t recall which), a lot of trees, and a million mosquitos that wanted to get to know me better.

The first crisis to occur was not a bout of homesickness, but rather the startling revelation that I had no belt to hold up my shorts or pants. There is a great deal of disagreement about where my belt was packed (at the bottom of my duffel bag or my brother’s), but the result wasorganic labelthat I MacGyvered the rope closure of the duffel bag to serve as my ersatz belt for the remaining two weeks. A lot of thought has gone into trying to understand why I didn’t get to the bottom of the duffel bag sooner. I think it has to do with the fact that I never unpacked the entire duffel bag into the provided foot locker, and instead worked my way down through the contents as I required clean clothing.

In retrospect, what’s most memorable about sleep-away camp is how domesticated the experience was. They had us weaving potholders (how many bi-colored and tri-colored examples of that can you take home) and braiding gimp into whistle lanyards when none of us even owned whistles.Sure, we went out in canoes and had tug of war games, but mostly I remember being hunkered down like Asian sweat-shop workers, churning out ugly gimp products and way too many potholders for one household.I think we were supposed to treasure these handcrafts and be sure to distribute them to all our family members. No doubt, our mother most likely held on to these finely crafted artworks, periodically holding them up for visitors to see and appreciate.

organic labelIf I could time travel back to sleep-away camp, knowing what I know now, my first priority would have been to get a counselor to teach me how to make a belt out of gimp (or even potholders for that matter). The second priority on my list would be to have an ample supply of Deet insect repellent products. Lastly, I would have made sure I was wearing a belt before getting on the bus.

Alas, there are no do-overs for summer camp, much to the chagrin of former summer campers everywhere.  

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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