The coolest thing by far about being a kid is summer vacation and the COOLEST thing about summer vacation is camp. I mean seriously, adults should get mandatory sleep away camp for at least a week every summer. How much could you benefit right now from a pottery class? A canoe race? A midnight crawl to the boys’ side of the lake?
I went to a fantastic camp from age 7 to age 13. Castilleja All Girls Summer Camp in Northern California. It was a sleep away camp the first year I was there, and I was the youngest kid by 4 years at sleep away… and totally oblivious to this. Camp was 4 weeks jam-packed with every activity a tween-aged girl could want to do. Horseback riding, synchronized swimming, tennis, paper mache projects, drama lessons. Eating tons of cafeteria food. Meeting my twin sister who I never even knew existed. That was a trip.
Despite the seemingly boundless freedom, the best part of camp was finding ways to sneak around the rules. We used to creep into the dance studio at night and play air guitar to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and yes, those moves would come in handy in later years. We’d cut classes and run about a mile to Edy’s Creamery and come back with pockets stuffed with candy. Can you imagine a pack of 11 year-olds kidnapping a 7-year old from camp and taking her to a candy store these days without social services being called?
Another fantastic thing about camp was being treated like we were high school “adults” instead of kids who were potty trained within the past decade. My art teacher took us on a field trip to the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University to sketch and then to a Gelato Shoppe for sweet treats on the way home. I felt so urbane. I was 8 years old, and I already knew I wanted to study abroad in Europe.
What would camp look like for me today?
Sunrise – Rock climb up a scary looking slab of earth. Being 10 years old in this fantasy, I am also fearless, and therefore completely undaunted by gravity.
10:00 am – Head to CAMP garden to pick some pesticide-free arugula and strawberries for today’s lunch. Bring overflowing basket of goodness to Mrs. Garrett, who doubles as CAMP headmistresses and chef. Accept warm homemade cornbread muffin as reward for my excellent green thumb.
11:00 – Dance class with dance instructor Miss Jackson. Finally nail synchronized Rhythm Nation moves. Earn black cap.
12:00 – Lunch – Organic, free-range Arugula, Strawberry and Gorgonzolla Salad and a massive plate of four-cheese macaroni. Finished off with a neon-blue otter pop.
1:30 – Free swim! Prune to the point where I could peel off finger tips like grape skins.
2:30 – Fashion design class. This week’s guest lecturer, Alexander McQueen, will be teaching us the Ins and Outs of Couture Atelier in five easy sessions. Make rockin’ dance costume for Parent’s Day performance of Rhianna’s “Disturbia.”
3:30 pm – Craft hour moderated by David LaChapelle – rotate among various craft stations – body paint applique, lanyard weaving, pot throwing, glass blowing, neon sign making, and digital imaging. Dream of growing up to be a gay man.
4:30 pm – Wine and gossip hour in CAMP vineyard.
7:30 pm – Still drinking wine and gossiping, noshing on breads, cheese and fruit. Regain energy just in time for Karaoke Competition and Movie Hour featuring “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”, “Parent Trap” (Haley Mills version, natch) and “Blair Witch Project.” Scare ourselves silly.
11:00 pm – Summon up any trace of courage to sneak over to the boys’ side of the lake. Get there, realize that boys have cooties and are not as exciting as we’d hoped. Decide that gallons of ice cream in the Cafeteria Kitchen would be much more entertaining.
Asleep under the stars…..