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Summer camp memories are timeless – and priceless

July 8, 2018

"Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining..."

Who can forget Allan Sherman's "Camp Grenada" lyrics? Parents have been frantically searching for summer camps to send their loved ones away for that nature experience. You know, where the kids sleep in tents, backpack and learn survival skills. OK, basically it's to get them out of their parents' hair for the summer. But kids are wise to this scam, and they will send letters back home that will make that hair turn purple. The idea of not communicating with their parents is so appealing; many kids feel it is the sole reason for getting on the bus, period.

Children know their parents will spend sleepless nights pacing the floor, envisioning their little ones being eaten by wild animals or wandering around lost in the woods. These kids also knows that parents will be so desperate and guilty about sending them away, they can ask for a car and their parents will purchase it as soon as they arrive home, even if they're only 6 years old.

As the song continues:

"Now I don't want this
should scare ya
But my bunkmate has Malaria
You remember Jeffrey Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party."

So forget about making potholders, macramé key rings and plastic bobble heads – the real joy for kids is enjoying the guilt the parents feel for trying to expand their children's experience away from all technology for more than five minutes.

Now, guys do better at camp than most girls. This is not a judgment or a criticism; it's just an observation of knowing how much boys love tents and camping out. It's such a welcome relief from the everyday routine of rolling boulders over the side of a hill or pushing stuff like refrigerators down a small mountain.

For one thing it's the opportunity to sit around and tell jokes involving flatulence that your mother would never allow to be heard in the house. So hysterical are these jokes that guys will remember them years later, especially if they are at a funeral, wedding or inside a place of quiet reflection, like a church.

Seriously, though, you can practice a lot of outdoor skills at these camps too. I can remember my brother and cousin came home from summer camp with all kinds of abilities to do new stuff like tie knots, wear the same underwear for a week and it goes without saying, could hold their own in any burping contest.

We cannot leave out girls from this experience, but the accommodations are a little bit nicer, with cabins and real bathrooms, something guys are happy to go without.

Girls write their parents with lovely scripts about birds and plants. If a relative sends candy or magazines, a girl will write a thank you note with her personal initials and a drawing of a horse on it.

Of course this is great preparation for planning her future, which is most likely her wedding, where she will rely on this experience to make up lists for a gift registry and floral arrangements for the tables.

"I went hiking with Joe Spivy
He developed poison ivy,
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner."

Still, summer camp is a positive experience for most kids. And their parents have found a new way to get rid of the old guilt; it's called spending time at Camp Grandparents.

Just when you thought you had the furniture in your living room just right, the carpet crisp and the guest soaps with the little butterflies indented in them, wrapped in little see-through bowls, think again.

Backpacks will now be the dominant decor. Wet socks and towels on the floor will enhance the fruit-stained window treatments and the cable man will visit your house at least once a day to restore some semblance of a television.

But it is not all bad. Underneath, you know these kids are great, and together you get to not call their parents. Yes, it's all in fun, but payback sure is sweet.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.