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Monday, January 17, 2005 

Girls Camp: Simply Entertaining or Horrifically Tragic?

I love being around people, always have… especially girl friends. I remember being shy when I was little, but my mom says that I remember wrong. I guess I have to believe her because she can produce a million stories to support her claim and I really can’t produce one to support mine. So being the social butterfly that I was, and always will be, a week away from mowing lawns, dishes and all other sorts of chores and in it’s place a week spent with my girlfriends up in the mountains “camping” in cabins was Simply Entertaining, this explains why I attended girls camp seven years while the average girl attends girls camp five (one year I even went twice).

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.

Rebecca, I wish I could have gone to girls camp with you. That would have been fun. I went for six years as well. I was pretty hardcore, and always managed to get into a little, I mean, enough, trouble. We hung bras on the flagpole for about three years until one of the men told us that it was extremely disrespectful. I was sad. 

Posted by Star

I did girls camp for seven years in a row as well... oh the stories I have! But that will have to wait till tomorrow.


Posted by Sarah Marinara

I'll never forget your Joan of Arc portrayal--inspiring. All of my best stories are from girls camp and they are all FABULOUS. Until, of course, I experienced camp from a leader's perspective and now it is nothing but one great big horrific tragedy.

Cameron's mom was a hoot at girl's camp, but his sis had a reputation for being a lake nazi. I'm just saying.(I know she's very nice in real life and was just enforcing the rules--crap. I should've posted anonymously.)

Becca, what stage of Mormonism do you think you'll be in this June? I have a calling for you--I need your experience and enthusiasm for girl's camp DESPERATELY!

PS Camp is over my birthday this year. 

Posted by Kacy

I loved girls' camp, too. Wish I could have szeen Jean D'Arc for myself! 

Posted by Kaycee

My dad and I went up to pick the girls up on year, and we go there early, and decided to go on a hike, (Camp Shalom is in a box canyon) and Mary Hall got all freaked out that we did not have a compass, she thought we might get lost in the box canyon. All I remember is how BAD all the girls smelt. I mean bad, not just oh, whats that smell, but Holy Shizzz that is the worst smell I have ever had enter my nose. Maybe my sister should have let the girls have a little more free ran of the lake. (Yes Kacy, I am aware of her dictatorship characteristics, you should have seen the pool she used to manage) And about my mom, she is always a hoot, and damn, she makes some great pork chops.

Becca I have some bad news for you regarding the tinfoil dinners, everyone elses parents pre-cooked the food, so all they were really doing was re-heating the food. I remember Matthew's always took forever. My hot dogs were done in a matter of minutes. 

Posted by Cameron

Kacy. I will never forget the porch you BUILT onto your wards cabin. I thought that was the coolest thing, so did Sue Ann… and how I laughed when you told her that you were a clogger and therefore the need of the porch… she believed every word you said.

As for the canoe Nazi… Shalann (Cameron how do you spell your sister’s name) was actually one of the best. One year I turned over a couple peoples canoes, including my own, in an effort to prove there were not leaches in the pond… I was restricted from all canoe activities for the rest of the week and it was not Shalann who restricted me!

Hmm… calling to be a girls camp advisor? And destroy my beautiful memories? No thank you. 

Posted by Rebecca

I will preface this by stating that I think that girls camp is important, and there's a lot to be learned. My sisters, JP and J, had great camp experiences. JP went for many years, and served in leadership positions. My sweet mom goes every year serving in the kitchen, and my daughter, Maddie, is looking forward to girls camp.

I HATED GIRLS CAMP! In the early years we didn't have flushing toilets or hot water. Inspite of that, most of my girlfriends had a blast. Over the course of the last 15-20 years, the stake has built it up into a wonderful camp complete with a lake.

I still have a bah-humbug attitude, unfortunately. No wonder I haven't been called to YW. I'll stick to primary.

So, the big question: will I go with Maddie on her 1st year? I doubt it. 

Posted by Jess

OK- what is the deal with girls camp and cornrows?
I have never seen so many white girls with cornrows. It was true with my friends in Cincinatti, true of my friends in Arkansas, true of my sister and her friends in Oklahoma. Is this as universal a thing as it seems to me? 

Posted by Mike

I love to hear good memories of camp! You would have been a blast as a cabin-mate. I love the idea of a traveling Joan of Arc!  

Posted by Carrie Ann

Mike... I think it is just a girl bonding thing. You sit and chat and gossip and giggle while your hair is getting braided.

Braiding each others hair is like a right of passage in a woman’s youth, so yes I believe it is universal.

Posted by Rebecca

So, this may be slightly off topic, but --

I think that many (most) of the young men always wondered about girls camp and pictured it as a sort of fantasy paradise. I certainly did. After all, all of those girls (most of whom I had crushes on -- come on, when you're sixteen, you have a simultaneous crush on pretty much every moderately attractive laurel in the stake) running around and braiding hair and letting their underwear hang on trees. It sounded sort of like the palace of women in Monty Python. And of course, unattainable.

I never made the mental connection between the forbidden paradise of girls camp and the general chaotic cameraderie of scout camp, though the two were probably very similar. My sixteen-year-old self didn't really want to make that mental connection, I think. 

Posted by Kaimi

Kaimi -

Your response is hilarious. It makes me think of Book Club. The last couple of guys I have dated have both asked me, “What DO you do at book club?” At first I thought this was an odd question, “Well, we discuss the book we read.” Until the subject was never dropped, “Do you really JUST discuss the book?” I finally realized that the boys have this fantasy idea of what book club is, like your concept of Girls Camp, so now I just answer, “All us ladies get together and make out!”… I mean it is what they want to hear anyway right?

Posted by Rebecca

I want to thank Cameron for finally revealing the secret of tinfoil dinners. I was always mystified by Rebecca and the other kids' complaints about how long their dinners took to cook.  

Posted by Jim F.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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