*Inspired by Steph's post from today. Yeah, I'm kind of a copycat. Sue me.

I think the worst week of my childhood was the week I spent at 4-H camp. It was the summer before 7th grade. I was 11, shy, shrimpy and very unpopular. I'm not sure whose idea it was for me to go to this camp. Probably not mine. Maybe my mother's, or maybe my mother was conspiring with some other kids' mothers to pack us off for a week. In any case, I went once and once only (unlike church camp, where I went 2 or 3 summers in a row, but that's a whole different story.)

Oh, 4-H camp, how did thee suck? Let us count the ways:

1) The nightly dances. These were held in a large picnic shelter, and was one of the few chances boys and girls had to mingle. Shudder. They were also mandatory because there weren't enough adult supervisors/counselors, so we all had to be in one place in the evenings. So much for sulking in your cabin or playing cards in the dining hall. Of course, dances have a way of bringing out the worst social awkwardness facing those in junior high. Every night I stood off to the side, simultaneously glad and sad that none of the boys noticed me. Most of them were gross, and I wouldn't have known what to do with the attention anyway. I remember one night a fellow wallflower and I, desperate to keep ourselves occupied with anything other than our own unpopularity, tracked the progress of a small toad trying to hop across the dance floor. We were really rooting for him, but I'm afraid he didn't make it; he got squashed by someone doing a line dance.

2) The activities. The only thing I was remotely excited about was the canoe class. Guess what? It rained the whole week and we never made it out into the water.

3) More activities. Since it was my first (and only) year as a 4-H camper, I was lowest on the priority list for class sign-ups. Somehow I got into the canoe class, even though we never went canoeing, but after that the only thing left was archery. Guess how much I suck at archery? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

4) The food. I don't really remember what there was, but I remember it was pretty awful.

5) The rules. We were not allowed to go anywhere without a counselor. Even the bathroom. Even the bathroom!! If you got caught too many times trying to go to the bathroom without a counselor with you, hoo-boy, you might get sent home. (Come to think of it, this might have been a good strategy, had I been thinking clearly.) What made it worse, there was a dire shortage of counselors for the girls, so we had precious few opportunities to, you know, go. One poor girl got so constipated that she was doubled over in pain and crying for an entire day.

6) The weather. Don't go to summer camp in Kentucky in July. You could die of heatstroke or get struck by lightning. Either way, you don't get to go canoeing.

7) The bugs. There were the usual: chiggers, mosquitoes, bees...but the worst was a raging case of headlice that I brought home and couldn't get rid of for weeks.

The one saving grace about 4-H camp was that my friend Ann was there with me. In fact, Ann and I shared those awful junior high years in each other's company, and I'm pretty sure she's the reason I didn't come out of 6th grade (and post-6th grade camp) with permanent social scars.


Mrs. Allroro said…
Aww, how sweet. (the last paragraph, anyway.) Funny thing is, I don't remember any of those things. Why do I have postivie memories of 4-H camp? Once again, it pays to be dingy. I still think I probably gave you the headlice.
Animal said…
Suze, I think BOTH you and Steph need to read the new book "Camp Camp." Check it out on Amazon...or, y'know, wherever.

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