Anyone who went to sleepaway camp knows that how you looked and what food you could get your hands on were two of the most important things that summer. This basically meant you looked like crap and ate crappy food, but how you went about it was the fun part. Camp was a place for firsts. You basically went to camp because you were surrounded by girls who came from all over that shared their personal tips (and pinkeye) to your budding beauty routine. Camp is where you learned to shave, pluck your eyebrows, bleach various parts of your body and use Noxzema.
Diet: We are not going to talk about the camp food, which is synonymous with terrible and doesn’t deserve any more attention for being gross. But no sweat – back at your bunk, you and your bunkmates had your stash. Cup o’ Noodle was like a Thanksgiving feast and super easy to make! Just run the bathroom tap for five minutes and you will be rewarded with a lukewarm cloudy florescent yellow water stew, slurp it down with a glass of room temperature powdered iced tea in the one plastic cup someone brought from home.
When craving something sweet, you can take the packets of hot cocoa from the cafeteria and add a drop of water to make ‘pudding’ or stick your finger in your tub of iced tea mix and lick. You were game for any adventure out of camp that promised a trip to McDonald’s or Subway, even if it meant joining the basketball team or winning the cleanest bunk award. Camp’s nighttime canteen offered various snacks like dry, paper-thin hamburgers and candy bars, which held you over for about an hour. If you were really lucky, you could manage to get your mom to mail you some candy, but you needed to be sure your mom was swift about this one. Once, my mom kinda discretely mailed some goodies to me in a Kleenex box and it ended up getting confiscated. I was so upset I cried, not only for the loss of the candy, but for the thought of my cute mom being bad for me.
Hygiene: Looking your best at sleepaway camp meant taking ice cold showers first thing in the morning, drying off with dirty bleach-stained towels, throwing your wet hair in a scrunchie and putting on the hugest sweatshirt possible. By afternoon, it was sunny; you let your murky, lake-water-infused hair out of its mildew-smelling scrunchie, the soles of your feet were black and your were arms full of friendship bracelets and beading. It was a real treat if someone in your bunk had a jar of Manic Panic. Then everyone had streaks the color of a bad bruise, which ultimately always turned green. Any and every nail polish color available was painted on any nail surface possible. Nighttime socials meant that the one tube of lipstick someone has gets smeared on everyone’s lips. You were too young to know that ‘raisin shimmer’ was definitely not your color. Your braces were your best accessory. You just wanted to have your first kiss and share clothes.
Camp ends with promises to write and be best friends forever, and you are sprung back into your normal routine. Your home friends say you look different. They wouldn’t understand. You think about your camp friends for weeks. You get your photos developed and are reminded of all that you learned that summer. Your mom drives you to the drugstore; you pick out a tube of raisin shimmer lipstick. Looking back at your photos of camp, you realize you may have looked less than glamorous, but you sure felt fabulous. Camp was the best!
Featured image by moi