When did summer camp get so crazy?

Archery at Summer CampI still don’t know what I am going to be when I grow up but I CAN tell you were I will be Monday morning July 18th, 2016. Driving the camp carpool. How do I know that? By consulting my camp spreadsheet. That’s right. I have run four businesses (not particularly well mind you) with less forethought and documentation than I devote to camp planning.  I know how crazy this is. I don’t want to be part of this madness. Yet if Oliver wants to “Explore our Awesome Earth!!” at the Museum of Science and Nature (and he sure as shit does) then I have to warm up my clicking finger.

Ideally he would register himself, but school, so I am his proxy and we are both nervous about my dedication and ability. The registration for camp opens at 9:00 on Tuesday and closes when the slots are full. Which was 9:06 last year.  My friend texted to recommend that I set up a dry run with my membership number input into the website and have it cued up. But when do I click? Do I click at 8:58? What if that is too early and I have to input it all again. Then I might be too late.  Maybe I should have two tabs ready to go so if I blow it once I have a mulligan.

I am having WHDH flashbacks. I can see my 11 year old holding my breath as I waiting for whatever crappy giveaway was coming through the FM airwaves. Lets call it a Debbie Gibson tape (not to say I ever won a Debbie Gibson tape)  I have the stations’s phone number queued up on the “kids” (s not necessary but just tell that to the phone company) phone line, and have my fingers poised over the rotary dial of my mom’s phone.  The second I hear a gravel voice tempt me with the sweet sweet sounds of 80s pop music I would squeal and begin the relentless dialing. Sometimes I think I created my own busy signal. Which is a metaphor for much more of life than radio giveaways.

One of the few times in life that I didn’t get in my own way was summer. It was gritty and sticky and totally devoid of educational merit. Remember gimp? We had those at camp. We also had sticks that we picked up off the ground and wrapped with yarn. Things got really exciting when it was rainbow yarn. And BB guns. I shot BB guns at camp. Now the boys would be lucky to have a BBQ let alone have some BB time. We also had archery. I remember walking towards the white plastic targets stuffed with straw hoping that no one would shoot me.  Nothing about my camp sounded like it should go on my college application. Awesome earth was what I got inside my sneakers. Dinosaur exploring was reserved for seeing who could get to the dinosaur egg the fastest. Bug juice was as close as we came to insect study. Well that and seeing who could let the mosquito fill with maximum blood before smacking them into a big red splotch. I can tell you it wasn’t me.

A generation of kids who went to regular summer camp which was sort of fun but pretty much designed to keep our parents from going crazy have grown up to be the crazy ones ourselves. We spend scads of money and compare week long enriching experiences. Every camp has a specialty. Leo is probably going to stand up paddle boarding camp. Because I don’t have the energy to stand up to him. And because it fits well into the puzzle that is the summer.

I know you are already planning. What if we came together to stop the madness? What if we brought back gimp? And popsicle stick cabins? I know. Let’s meet at 9:00 Tuesday morning, or maybe 9:06.

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Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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