Girls Camp: Simply Entertaining or Horrifically Tragic?
The first year, while packing my duffle with camping clothes, hiking shoes, secret sister gifts, candy and face cards my dad told me how he and other members of the priesthood in surrounding Stakes would go up Fairview Canyon on weekends to build Camp Shalom. Of course, this was before I was born, or maybe when I was just a little baby, but the idea of my dad building something, something like a cabin, or cabins, that I had never seen and would now be staying in for an entire week seemed so cool to me, special.
The first night of camp we always have homemade tinfoil dinners. Every year, with out fail, mine took over an hour to cook. While everyone else was finishing with their camp fire banana split smores dessert (take a banana, cut it down the middle stuff the middle with chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrap the banana in tinfoil and throw it into the fire for five minutes) I was just pulling my dinner out of the fire. I would complain to my dad every year before camp, “Mine takes too long daaaad.” I think he would make changes to how he created the tinfoil dinner, but I still was the last to eat. My third year my little sister started coming to camp as well. This was nice if for no other reason then to have someone to eat late night dinner with.
Evenings at camp were by far my favorite. I loved to huddle around the camp fire telling stories and singing songs. I have a horrible voice, but in the mountains around a camp fire nobody sounds bad, everyone sounds beautiful, even me, especially with a guitar. The stars at Camp Shalom are the brightest stars I have ever seen. When I was little my brother had this paper, glow in the dark, half circle thing I could turn out the lights and stick my head into and all of the stars would light up, mapped out, right in front of my face. The night sky at Camp Shalom always reminded me of Matthew’s star dome. If I looked up I felt the stars right on top of me, in a dome shape, brighter then I had ever seen them before and perfectly mapped out.
Camp wasn’t always perfect, or rather I wasn’t always perfect at camp. I managed to get myself in trouble even when I was trying to be on my best behavior. It was no surprise to me when my very first year, one of the very first days, I made Shauna cry because she decided I had called her fat - which I didn’t do at all, I just told her that I didn’t need to borrow her jeans because not only did I have my own jeans, but I didn’t think hers would fit me, she is tall and I am short. She became very upset with me, started crying and then told her older sister Pam that I had called her fat, really REALLY fat. In the end I wish I had just called the little “beg for attention, cry baby” fat, really REALLY fat because at least then all of the drama it created might have been worth it. Shauna spent the rest of camp picking at her food and complaining about her weight (she was rail thin).
That same year when I returned from our first year hike I found all of my panties strung through the trees. I new this was revenge for not borrowing Shauna’s pants, but I didn’t care. After all, we are all girls, what is so embarrassing about wearing panties? Or having them hang from trees? At least I wasn’t fat… I mean tall. I left my panties hanging from the trees until instructed to remove them.
The following year I told Shauna that Camp Shalom had installed electricity. Then took a face plate to an electrical socket and screwed it into one of the walls of our cabin. Her older sister wasn’t there and she had nobody to cry to, but she did cry and cry and cry and cry. The prank didn’t provide me with as much pleasure as I had hoped. I felt guilty about it all week. Fortunately a lot of other people found humor in it and fortunately one of them was our camp director so I didn’t get into trouble, she just shook her head at me and tried not to laugh. But I felt horrible and as a result never pranked again and I didn’t allow anyone else to prank either.
To be fair, I wasn’t always a pain. I wasn’t always the girl that made my Simply Entertaining camping experience Horrifically Tragic for others. In many ways I was the model camper. I loved girl’s camp so much that I would do everything in my power to make sure everyone else was having as a great a time as I was (as long as you were not Shauna). I participated happily in every activity, finished every single certification, helped the younger girls with their certifications and braided head after head of hair into corn rows. I was more then willing to play the fool in skits… one year I even agreed to dress as Joan of Arc and go to cabin after cabin in the pouring rain telling my inspiring story of female power and faith.
In the end the best part of girl’s camp was the comradely. One week with girls from my neighborhood, sharing a small cabin, staying up all night huddled together in our sleeping bags to keep warm, telling our secrets and sharing our candy… this was why I went to camp.
And for those of you that went to camp and didn’t experience the comradely? I find THAT Horrifically Tragic.