I Said A Boom Chicka Rocka Chicka Rocka Chicka Boom

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I am part of a cult.

I know it’s hard to believe. Me being so strong-willed and independent.

But they sucked me in at the impressionable age of 14 and I’ve been a part of it ever since.

Outsiders don’t get us. They scoff at the bond we have. Think it’s weird. But I don’t care. I am loyal forever to my cult.

My cult…also known as camp.

troop bev hills

At the age of 14, I was done being a camper and ready to jump to the other side, but there weren’t a lot of options in my area unless you were 15. So my mother, being my mother, started researching, and found a place a little bit north that fit the bill. I filled out a real application, had a real interview, and then landed my first real job.

I was probably 16 and a Junior Counselor at this point. This was in the morning before leaving my house.

I was probably 16 and a Junior Counselor at this point. This was in the morning before leaving my house.

My uniform consisted of a staff shirt that was colored-coded in a way that clearly pointed out the fact that I was among the newbies and I began to navigate my way through the inner workings of camp. In the blink of an eye, I went from 14 to 37, where I was sitting at a reunion of more than 150 of us this past weekend. It. Was. Awesome.

Except the bartender’s/waitresses’ “uniforms”. Those were not awesome. They made me physically uncomfortable and I was in constant fear that a floppity boob would make its way into my drink. And if I wanted that, I would have skipped the reunion and gone a few doors down to Pure Platinum where that kind of thing is normal.

We tried to stealthily take this pic to document the uniforms. It's blurry but that's probably a good thing - so you're welcome.

We tried to stealthily take this pic to document the uniforms. It’s blurry but that’s probably a good thing – so you’re welcome.

Every summer, I would dive head-first into camp friends and my “regular friends” would get so annoyed. “Ugh, Rachel, enough with the camp friends. We get it, they’re totally awesome.” But I couldn’t help it, I was hooked. And it wasn’t long before the lines started to get blurred and camp friends became regular friends. As a matter of fact, my best friend, my “person”, is a camp friend I met at 16. I wrote a blog post about her a while back actually.

This was the first time we won honor cabin. Trust me, it's a BDF.

This was the first time we won honor cabin. Trust me, it’s a BFD.

 

The two girls on my left are STILL in my life.

The two girls on my left are STILL in my life.

There's nowhere else on the planet that could get me to dress as a power ranger

There’s nowhere else on the planet that could get me to dress as a power ranger….sober

And if you’re a camp person, you’re a camp person. You just understand. It doesn’t even matter which camp. And if you’re not, you think we are all annoying. But you know what? Camp is awesome because it’s like an alternate universe, where you do things that are not really socially acceptable in other places and would NEVER happen in real life. Don’t believe me? Here’s a short list.

1) It’s totally acceptable as an adult to eat ice cream twice a day.

2) You don’t really wear makeup or do your hair.

3) Summer flings are the norm and there’s not the same weirdness that would happen if you dated or hooked up with someone in real life for 30 something days and then quit cold turkey when that time frame ended.

4) You eat kid food like mac and cheese and pizza at least twice a week for lunch.

5) You wear a one piece bathing suit.

6) You bond ridiculously quick with fellow staff.

6) It’s a cool thing to be in the camp assemblies/plays. They are highly coveted spots that people actually want.

7) You wear ridiculous things like bright yellow sneakers and tie-dye shorts.

8) There are lots of themed days where it’s actually encouraged to wear apparel like PJs.

9) Carrying a clip board is a sign of power.

10) There are days you are in full costume. Lots of them.

God there are so many more but I have to stop.

I spent well over a decade at the same camp as a counselor. It was my summer home and I even came back as an administrator for a couple of years before I took my current job. I got to watch my own child attend as a camper, which was mind-blowing. As a counselor, I used to walk into the cafeteria with my campers, take one look at the “administrator table” and wish I was sitting there. And when I finally was, it was a surreal feeling. I made it to the other side.

From counselors to admins

From counselors to admins

Went through all the rites of passage and now I was the one with a walkie-talkie, taking shopping trips to buy inner tubes, whipped cream and balloons for whatever shenanigan-packed assembly we had coming up. I was getting paid to do it. And instead of being on the stage, I was judging contests or behind it, with a cordless mike/headphones – another sign you had made it big.

"Celebrity Judges" for our version of The Voice. We did the chair spinny thing and everything.

“Celebrity Judges” for our version of The Voice. We did the chair spinny thing and everything.

Like a boss

Like a boss

Told ya there were costume days

Told ya there were costume days

Normal work attire

Normal work attire

Got my daughter in on the loud sneakers

Got my daughter in on the loud sneakers

When you bring up camp to my mom, she gets just as excited because she has fond memories of my fond memories. When I told her I saw James and Phil (below) at the reunion, she asked me if we talked about the time my hair got stuck (up to the root) in the tiny bus fan as I was taking attendance. She’s really good at remembering stuff I have blocked out. Coincidentally, Phil had no recollection of that, but had vivid memories of her…yelling my dog’s name in her thick Fran Drescher-esque drawl every morning as she ran out the door…”PRECIOUSSSSSSS!!!”(the same dog that ironically had the same name as our housekeeper from my previous post)

This is me with James Bus monitor) and Phil (bus driver) back in the day.

This is me with James (bus monitor) and Phil (bus driver) back in the day.

And at the reunion.

And at the reunion.

The funny thing is EVERYONE thinks THEY had the best group or camp era. (Sorry guys, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that the 90s killed it at my particular camp). We had fun in and out of camp.

You'd never miss an after camp event or the chance to show spirit.

You’d never miss an after camp event or the chance to show spirit.

Themed parties are not only for camp days

Themed parties are not only for camp days

 

And you don’t just develop bonds with fellow counselors. I had one with a little girl I fell in love with (and definitely showed favoritism to). And I still talk to her. It makes me nauseous that she’s old enough to vote, drink, and have a boyfriend, but I love her to death.

Favorite camper ever

Favorite camper ever when she was itty bitty

And all of a sudden she's all grown up

And all of a sudden she’s all grown up

And in sitting at the reunion this past weekend, you can tell everyone shares the same camaraderie regardless of when their time took place. It was interesting how the room organically separated according to camp eras. My group was toward the middle and flanked by folks older than us on one side and MUCH MUCH MUCH younger than us on the other. And at every edge there’s a little bit of crossover.

reunion 2

At the reunion

reunion1

At the reunion

reunion3

At the reunion

reunion4

At the reunion (RIP Baja in the Grove)

 

We shared stories, laughed, reminisced and picked up right where we left off. Of every job I have ever had in my life, nothing will ever beat this. Ever. You learn things you don’t even realize you are learning until later in life (not counting the hallway chants like, “I said a boom chickaboom” or “A little birdie in a tree”).

It’s just special, incomparable and incredibly cheesy. And these people will forever be my summer family, even if I no longer spend my summers there.

minions

 

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  • Billy

    /Has the feels.

    Also, ’01-’08. Top era. 😉

  • arlyne

    Pinecrest Camp ……..one of the most incredible spots in the Universe! Aside from all the fun I have to give major props to Karen and Kristen for teaching my daughter the best work ethics ever!!! One day Rachel was sick and so I called into the camp to say she would be absent! That did not fly. Karen wanted the kids to take responsibility for having a real job and take charge of their own responsibilities! Thank you Karen and Kristen! You did an awesome job!

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  • […] other former counselors’ dream job) of running a day camp. But not just any day camp…the best one there ever was. When her sister started using and selling the products, Lorin tried them, mostly because her family […]

  • […] I have not been shy about my love for all things camp. It’s in my blood and it was undoubtedly my years at Pine Crest Day Camp in Ft. Lauderdale (all 15+ of them) that taught me far more valuable lessons than I EVER learned at any job. It also cultivated my closest friendships that are still going strong today. […]

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