Monday, July 28, 2008

Send This Girl To Camp

In the coming months, I will station several empty mayonnaise jars beside the cash registers at area convenience stores. The jars will have a picture of me, circa fourth grade, Scotch-taped to the outside and a thin slot carved into the metal lids. This is where you can donate your spare change to send me to camp next summer. Because, people, I'm going back.

Still basking in the glow of a weekend of Mom & Me fun in the sun, I am already looking forward to next summer, when I will neither cook nor clean for an entire weekend and relive the youth that -- oh, wait, I never went to camp as a kid.

Not attending camp as a kid is going to be one of those things that eventually lands me in therapy.
"Why do you think you became a sniper?"
"Because my parents didn't send me to camp."
"Why didn't they send you to camp?"
"Because they were too busy sending my SISTER to camp."
"I see."
"Oh, do you now? Do you see that I would have been, like, the No. 1 camper EVER and would have made lifelong friends who would ask me to be their kids' godmother? That we would spend girls' weekends together, reliving our camp days, staying up all night and laughing until we wet ourselves?"

I feel so DEPRIVED that I am having to recapture my youth in the annual Mother-Daughter format. But ladies, in all honesty, I have to tell you, it ain't so bad. In fact, it ranked at the top of my list of Fun Things I've Done This Summer.

Some highlights:

* Just how white ARE these women? Less than 10 minutes into the Dance Party Saturday afternoon, I found out. We tried to be all ghetto and yo-yo-yo with our Soulja Boy moves, but when it all shook out, we were pretty much a bunch of white Baptists.

* I think I'll take the bunk closest to the bathroom. This strategy will save me countless steps, I thought, as I tend to frequent the toilet at least twice during the night. But when it came time to claim a bunk, it didn't occur to me that the seven other women sleeping in my quadrant of the cabin also suffer this same malady and that the 200-watt bulbs illuminating the community bathroom would burn my retinas, as the bathroom door swung open every 20 minutes, leaving me to stare straight into a solar eclipse.

*Wonder what she's taking? Sharing living quarters with other women always reveals interesting tidbits that you might not learn otherwise. At night and in the morning, as moms and daughters were unrolling or rolling sleeping bags, applying deodorant or administering some form of self-care, any number of women were throwing their heads back and chasing pills with water from Styrofoam cups. Pain relievers are universally accepted as preventatives at mother-daughter camp, but I also learned quickly that "I left my hormone pills back in the cabin" was code for "somebody had better jolly well walk with me to the cabin and find those pills, or I'm going to fall out. Or kill somebody."

* There she is ... There's always one of these at this sort of thing. The mom who sets herself apart from everybody else with her stylish clothes and flawless makeup. And, oh, THE HAIR. Her hair alone was something we could never achieve, even in a climate-controlled studio. No baseball cap, no clip, no shame. Just healthy, perfectly coifed hair that was undeniably Mom-style, yet still a source of great envy in a camp setting.

And there she was, every time the dining hall door opened. We were confronted with a mom who was so attractive, so together, so CLEAN, that we feared she was about to break out the tap shoes or fire baton, as she was shiny and glossy and was totally prepared for the talent portion of the Miss America pageant. She was not a part of our group. Frankly, I don't think she would have us. Most members of our group looked like someone had thrown our clothes at us and stolen our hairbrushes.

* Speaking of humidity ... The Alabama humidity can do an ugly number on a woman, as evidenced by the odd measures we took to cool ourselves. One friend carried a damp paper towel with her throughout the campground, alternately wiping her face and arms of sweat. What she didn't understand, though, is that she was only spreading sweat from one body part to another and leaving a residual trail of sweaty paper towel lint on her chin and cheeks. I pointed this out to her midway through a group singing of "My Father's House." She glared at me and loud-whispered, "Why didn't you TELL me?"

I shrugged and said, "I just did."

Hers would have made a nice photo for the mayonnaise jar.