I wrote the following story about my first time going to sleepaway camp (an absolutely horrible experience) when I was 24. I actually wrote 10 full-length comedy essays like this one back then, each about a different hilariously crummy experience I’d had in my life. They were part of a collection I referred to as the “Kvetch” collection – but I never ended up doing anything with them.
So I’ve decided to try something new on here, now that I’ve got this shiny new blog to populate. I’m going to start a series with this post where I’ll release these “Kvetch” stories in installments (mad Dickension of me, I know). These tales won’t be COVID-19-related content, but they will be content about other miserable experiences from my life, so don’t worry – these stories are definitely still on-brand.
So, without further ado, I present to you: The Tale of Camp Muddy Stream, Installment 1.
(House lights dim.)
Two weeks after I graduated from 3rd grade, I found myself hurtling toward Maine on a coach bus, crying hysterically into my pillow and intensely regretting having pushed the whole ‘sleepaway camp’ thing so hard.
How could I not have pushed, though? The minute I realized that I was old enough to go away to a fun place outside of New York City where I could get a tan, walk around in my bare feet on wet grass in the morning, and meet new friends, I was sold on the idea. I HAD to go to sleepaway camp.
So we started sending away for catalogues and informational videotapes about different sleepaway camps on the East Coast. For most of 3rd grade, every single day when I came home from school, there would be a new camp videotape that had come in the mail for me to watch. I would sit in my parents’ bedroom, cross-legged on the floor at the foot of their bed, watching tape after tape in the dark by myself.
All of these camp videos showed interchangeable, skinny, shiny-haired white girls wearing Soffee shorts (rolled over at the waist, natch) and neon friendship bracelets, most of the time doing choreographed dances together and windsurfing. 80% of the videos also included a waterskiing montage set to the Dirty Dancing song, “Time of My Life,” which seemed dated and kind of depressing even in 1995. Still, it really did look like camp was THE place for me to be.
One of the tapes stuck out to me. It was for a camp we’ll call Muddy Stream. Muddy Stream was in Maine, an eight-hour drive away from home, and boy, did this place seem like heaven. The campers – all girls – slept in airy, white, canvas tents set on wooden platforms. During rest hour, they all lounged around on their beds, talking and laughing with each other. There was tennis, and canoeing, and arts & crafts. I could even act in a play on stage!
I loved the idea of going to Muddy Stream – and probably because I’m the oldest child, my parents agreed to not only let me attend Muddy Stream, but to go for 8 whole weeks, instead of what seemed to me like a measly 4. My best friend at the time, Sarah, came from the kind of WASP-y family that sends their children to boarding school when they turn 7, so it didn’t take much convincing for them to sign her up, too. Then, the deal was done. Sarah and I were going to Muddy Stream, and we were going to have the best summer of our FUCKING. LIVES!
That’s pretty much the only discussion I remember having with my parents about going to sleepaway camp at all until the night before I left, when all of a sudden it sank in that I was going away for 8 weeks the next day, and I decompensated.