Girl's Camp: It's a Love Hate Thing
1988: Beehive 2nd year camper – Had to be at a camp with cabins; still in Missouri…it was weird. Our family was moving in a week, so I was a little preoccupied, and my best friend was acting weird (like she didn’t care that much that I was moving and she was using girls camp to find a new friend right before my eyes). Don’t remember much except for going swimming and seeing a leader get out of the pool right in front of me with “personal” hair down to her knees. I dry heaved involuntarily. I had no idea such things could be! Sorry that is a gross image, but it has stuck with me. Thank goodness for the invention of board shorts!
1989: Mia Maid 3rd year camper: New Jersey. New ward. New stake. Kind of a cool camp with quasi cabins. DID NOT WANT TO BE THERE. Wrote scathing letters home to Mom telling her how unfair it was to be here when younger sister was having a birthday and (idolized) older sister was leaving for college. Mom was there for part of the time which I loved. One younger sister there with me… was that the year she was my secret sister? If so, she painted a face on a piece of wood that touched my heart and I’ve kept all these years… Highlights: the white captains hat I wore the entire week…meeting some cool girls in the stake…cooking chocolate cake in dug-out oranges. Lowlights: condoms on the ground…this WAS New Jersey, after all.
1990: Mia Maid 4th year camper: Massachusetts. New ward. New stake. Got to go on the coolest overnight hike/camp trip eva! We went up to New Hampshire to this gorgeous lake and hiked out onto and island. Well, we took a boat to the island AFTER we hiked. Incredible. Highlights: Met some great girls. Jumped off a cliff into a FREEZING lake. Lowlights: Going number 2 outside in between two rocks. Camp itself was awesome. We had an amazing group of girls…no drama, no tears, lots of fun, lots of singing, great testimony meeting.
1991-1993: Junior counselor 2 years: Massachusetts. Highlights: getting to know girls in the stake and their younger sisters, being at camp with MY younger sisters and my mom, being thought of as inspirational, teaching lashing, again those yummy orange chocolate cupcake things… Lowlights: Hurricane Bob destroyed the camp ground one year, so they sent us to a RV Kampground that was next to a landfill. Big Stink and 1 million sea gulls…! Last year of girl’s camp I had to work.
Girl’s Camp (GC) is a great thing. I love camping in general. I loved that they attempt to teach outdoor skill to the pampered and spoiled. I loved playing with fire. I loved singing the songs in 9 part harmony, of course. I loved performing flashlight “water dances” from the dock. I loved skittery little first years. I loved that in my groups, we never had drama or popularity contests. I loved the adult leaders trying to be funny in skits.
But I disliked the anxiety I felt over going. I disliked worrying about forgetting something. I disliked the bathrooms and being constipated all week. I disliked crowds. I disliked the hikes for some reason, even though I like to hike. I can’t explain it, but they made me SO nervous! I think it is because I read a lot of Holocaust literature and they reminded me of forced death marches. Irrational, I know, because I like hiking in general. I disliked it when other groups didn’t get along. I disliked feeling hungry.
While being a young woman’s leader as an adult, I have avoided camp TWICE. That’s pretty rotten of me, I’ll agree, but I don’t know if I could handle the young female drama. I never experienced it myself at camp, I just know it exists and I have little patience for it. I also dislike sleeping really close to other people, breathing their air… Give me a tent… Although, I have always wanted to have cornrows… Writing this, and reading about this all week makes me want to go to girl’s camp, but each summer when the time rolls around…I’m nervous again.
I know that girl’s camp is a great opportunity for some girls to get out of their bad environments. It is honestly therapeutic for some people to be out in nature, and to be constantly reminded of things of a spiritual nature. Morning devotionals, testimony meetings, spiritual thoughts, singing in the trees, learning mad outdoor skills, etc… I think it makes an impact on some girls. I was so shocked to find out that Boy Scout camp was WAY different. Lots of urinating on people and things… But my “testimony” of camp has been renewed this week reading about everyone’s great experiences. That’s all I got…