Friday, August 17, 2012

The Camp Experience

This year I sent my teen to camp for the first time. Mom was fifty shades of neurotic, but my daughter survived and lived to tell about it. And she agreed to answer some questions about her camp adventure as did some of our teens spies and analysts. Here’s what they had to say about the camp experience…

What kind of camp(s) do you go to? How long was the camp? Day or overnight? How many years have you been going to camp? Did you enjoy it?

KENZ: I went to a YMCA camp. It was one week, overnight. This was my first time, and it was AWESOME

MADDIE: I went to a leadership camp the summer before eighth grade. It was an invitational only camp funded through my old charter school, and it lasted seven days and six nights. That was my only year that I've been to camp, and now I'm too old to attend as an actual camper. I could probably a counselor, since I turn 16 in the spring. I didn't enjoy it that much because all of the activities were forced upon us. Like, if we didn't like what we were doing that day, too bad because they were going to make you do it anyways. And the counselors were all kind of mean and didn't talk to us much.

LISSA: I used to go to day camps, but now I'm way too old for any camps in my area. Each session was about 2 weeks long - I used to go to an arts and crafts camp, a sports camp, and another year I went to a children's theater program which was a total blast. I went to camp for two or three consecutive years, but then I got too old to go to them.

LYNSAY: I went to Roanoke Christian Service Camp. Generally they were a week long, overnight. I went during the summer about four or five years. I enjoyed it very much.

What kinds of activities did you do? What was your favorite activity? Least favorite? Why?

KENZ: canoeing, archery, volleyball, riding, tennis, high ropes, fun and games (zip lining). My favorites were riding and canoeing. Riding was fun and I had the most awesome horse ever. Canoeing because we got to tip the canoe and swim in the lake. My least favorite was the high ropes. I hate heights.

MADDIE: We did weird sort of yoga things in the morning, which I filmed and made hilarious commentary about while my friends sat in the grass behind me and talked :D I think my favorite "activity" was when we snuck away during meals to go by tacos and spicey french fries for me (I was a vegetarian) at the little food shack that sat by the gold course.

Like I said before, the activities were forced upon us, and it seemed like they hadn't taken very much thought as to what a bunch of thirteen-year-olds wanted to do during summer break :/

LISSA: In sports camp, we'd do a lot of indoor and outdoor sports, but we'd also do a couple of arts and crafts activities that were fun. When I went to art camp, we went on field trips to different museums or city events, and went swimming when we weren't doing crafts at the community center. For the theater camp, we had to put on the whole show and make all the props and set up choreography and music numbers, so we were kept busy with all that, and otherwise went swimming for an hour or two. I remember that I used to love, in sports camp, when we played soccer, which is one of my favourite sports, but that I've always hated going swimming with my camp groups.

LYNSAY: We did Capture the Flag, Staff Hunt, Movie Night, Talent Shows, Skits, Vespers, Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball, Carpet Ball, Low Ropes, Slip and Slide, Swimming, and Archery. My favorite was probably Vespers and Staff Hunt. Vespers because I love to sing, and Staff Hunt because you get to go out in the dark and look for everyone. My least favorite I'm not sure about, maybe Volleyball since I'm no good at it.

Did you get hurt at all? Any embarrassing moments you care to share? ;)

KENZ: I didn’t really get hurt, but my friends and I slipped down a hill and got all muddy on the way to dinner. That was embarrassing.

MADDIE: Um...not that I can remember. I forgot my flips flops once when we were going to the pool, and a stranger had to give me a piggy back ride, if that counts.

LISSA: Did I ever get hurt? Well, emotionally, yeah. I used to think that I had some...mediocre...acting talent, way back when, so when I was cast as a FRYING PAN in the Beauty and the Beast production -- and this frying pan had, like, 2 lines -- I was pretty bummed out, yeah.

LYNSAY: I got bit by a spider once, and my best friend rolled my suitcase over my toe once, and if you know how much I pack, then you know that this is serious. Once my counselor caught me texting (cellphones were strictly against the rules) and she called me out in front of everyone; that was embarrassing.

If you stayed overnight, did you like your cabin mates?

KENZ: There are a few that got on my nerves, but pretty much they were awesome. My counselors were super nice because even though they were counselors, they kind of treated us like we were friends and were always there for us.

MADDIE: I LOVED my cabin mates! I met a bunch of really cool people though, and I'm still friends with them today, three years later, even though we haven't seen each other since then. Our "cabin" was split between a school from brownsville, and then the other half was us. All of them spoke English and Spanish, so they taught us all the bad words. I am ashamed to say we whispered them under our breath to the counselors, who only spoke broken English and a lot of Turkish. I feel bad about it now, but then it was kind of funny. *cue me looking around sheepishly*

LYNSAY: I usually didn't have a problem with my roommates unless they were loud and tried to stay up really really late. I was tired after all those long days. I needed sleep!

Any drama? Any romance?

KENZ: Not really any drama in our cabin. We were all friends.

MADDIE: Um, it was an all girls camp, and I don't exactly swing that way...I did have a boy call me while I was there and tell me he had a crush on me, but I don't think that really counts as anything 'romantic.'

As for drama- our lights out time was eleven, and after the counselors made their rounds to check and see if everyone was asleep, the other girls would all sneak into our room and we'd tell stories and eat the candy we'd smuggled in from the little food shack. Once, the counselor came back around to check again, and we all pretended to be asleep where we were when she opened the door. It was hilarious, and I completely ruined it by laughing out loud. She made them all leave, but they just came back again anyways. Wow, I'm just realizing how bad we sound. Oops :)

LISSA: Oh, always a little of both. I'm really shy around people I don't know, and even more so when I was younger, so I had like 2 friends who I only spoke with sometimes -- at all the camps -- and was alone for most of the camp experience. And then, of course, there was this really cute guy that was WAAAAY cute, but as it turns out, kind of a jerk, so that was that.

LYNSAY: Oh of course romance, and because of the romance, of course drama. There were always at least two boys and two girls every session that caught the opposite sex's attention, and if there's more than one girl after a boy or vice versa, there will be drama.

Any games at your camp? Talent shows? Skits?

KENZ: There were a lot of games. We played Spy Hunter and Counselor Hunt and Thrive, which is like Capture the Flag. No talent show, but every cabin performed skits and then the counselors and staff member performed some skits. They always made us laugh.

MADDIE: Nope, no games. We played some sports, and did other things like go to the pool and we had reading time (which I enjoyed!) I don't really remember if there was a talent show, but that was because we were frequently convincing the counselor to let us stay in the cabin.

Oh, wait. We played with jump rope and this obstacle course thing. But those aren't really games. All I know is that I got a pretty bad sunburn from it.

LISSA: Always a skit in theater camp! Also, at all other camps I went to, we would do the name games and the "getting to know each other" and icebreakers, which was kind of pointless when we were still doing them at the end of the two weeks.

LYNSAY: I mentioned a lot of stuff before, but yes, lots of camp wide games and things. Capture the Flag and Staff Hunt are big favorites and water Olympics in the pool. The skits were biblical because it was of course a church camp, and the talent shows were nice, lots of people sang and played instruments.

What was the best part about your camping experience? The worst?

KENZ: Best part was meeting friends and making new ones. I also really liked the food at camp. My favorite was the chicken pot pie. The worst part: all the rain. There wasn’t a day it didn’t rain so we didn’t get to do as much fun stuff and we didn’t get to have our sleep out night, which is where we take our sleeping bags outside and sleep under the stars. But, I’m glad I went, and next year more of my friends want to go too.

MADDIE: The best part was definitely the people I met. And the time we ordered pizza...that was some good pizza, even if it did take a while to get to us because we were in the middle of nowhere. The worst part was probably the people in charge. They just weren't very pleasant, and didn't seem like they knew how to deal with moody pre-teens. And I heard the boys camp across the woods was a lot of fun, so I was ticked off that just because we were girls we had to have freaking tea time while they were off climbing rock walls, canoeing, shooting each other with plastic arrows, and trekking through the woods. Maybe I'm just being bitter.

LISSA: The best was that I wasn't sitting at home on the computer doing nothing the whole summer, and that I have pretty fond memories of how big a blast I had playing sports with a great team and putting on a production that we made from our very own 10-year-old imagination. The worst memories would be of the times when I was alone at lunch time or during free time, but I guess I brought that on myself by not talking a lot! Also: the frying pan fiasco. Jeez, I was upset about that for days

LYNSAY: The best part was all the fun activities to keep everyone busy and meeting all the new people. The worst was probably being away from my own bathroom and bed.

Were you ever a camp counselor? What did that entail? Anything interesting you wish to share?

LYNSAY: Yes, I was a counselor. Basically you stay in a room with around ten campers. You make sure you spread out and sit with all the campers at meals, keep an eye on everyone, make sure everyone is being nice, playing safely, doing what they're supposed to, wearing shoes, etc. Since it was a church camp, you might also have to answer questions the campers might have about the bible or christianity or lead a group discussion about the lesson.


Anyone writing about summer camps? Here are some YA reads involving camps or camp counselors:

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (okay, this series starts out MG, but Percy is 16 by book five)

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita

Code Name Cassandra by Meg Cabot

Camp Killer (Sweet Valley High) by Francine Pascal

Any other reads I should add to my list? And how about YOU? Did you go to camp as a teen? Ever work as a counselor? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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